Perennial herbs native from the north of Europe down into Africa and across to Asia.
The Thymus genus contains between 300 – 400 different species of low-growing and creeping aromatic herbs, many of which are to be found in cultivation.
Fold tradition from many sources indicates that various thymes were well known by the ancient world. remains of one species of thyme were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, though it is unknown to what extent it was used in ancient Egypt. Elsewhere in the Mediterranean world thymes were used for both therapeutic and culinary purposes.
This herb was listed in Apicius’ cookbook of the first century AD as a useful seasoning. Thyme honey taken from been which foraged on the wild thyme fields of Mount Hymettus near Anthens was a sought-after item of commerce in antiquity. As a medicinal herb there are several references to its use in the treatment of headaches, stomach complaints and as a fumigant.
In later centuries thyme was recommended in a number of European herbals as a nervine, an emmenagogue (regulate menstruation), vermifuge, analgesic and carminative (to relieve flatulence and colic). Culpepper called it a ‘strengthener of the lungs’ and also recommended its use to ensure safe and speedy childbirth.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, ‘thymol’ was isolated from the essential oil of thyme. this proved to be a powerful antiseptic (said to be ten times stronger than phenol) which was and still is to a limited extent used in conventional medicine. It also has anti-fungal applications. Thymol is obtained from other herbs as well as thyme but much of the thymol used today is produced synthetically.
Thyme is still valued by medical herbalists as an antiseptic, expectorant, anti-spasmodic and carminative agent.
In these modern times drinking thyme tea regularly will help to keep the viral, bacterial and fungal load down in your body.