Health Benefits of Thyme and How Is It Used
Plants have played a vital role in the survival of the human race. They are useful right from the air we breathe to our clothing items and even medicine. About 320,000 species of plants exist, and they are the main component of numerous ecosystems. Due to the variety, there are many different things that plants do. One sure thing is that they are an essential part of life, and without them, survival will be difficult for other species. This article will dive into the health benefits of thyme and how it is used. It is one of the plants considered as herbs, which come with their own set of uses. This article will also examine the side effects, as well as other things to know about the plant.
History of Thyme
The existence and first uses of thyme have been dated back to ancient Egypt, where it was used in the embalmment process. In that time, thyme was used in preserving bodies in a way that slows down decomposition, especially for funeral ceremonies. There is also a record of the use of the plant by ancient Greeks. They burnt it in their temples as incense, believing that it would give them courage and made use of it in their bath as well. The Romans were thought to have spread the herb since they used it for purifying their spaces and giving their food an aromatic flavor. The Middle Ages of Europe saw herb as a way of enhancing sleep and preventing nightmares by placing it under their pillows when going to sleep. At the same time, the Europeans also believed that the plant brought courage and so the women gifted it to their knights and warriors. They also used it as incense due to its desirable scent and placed them on coffins to guarantee passage and transition into the next life. The plant has indeed come a long way since then, and more ways to use it have arisen.
Things to Know About Thyme
- It is a herb: The leafy green or flowering parts of plants are typically referred to as herbs. Herbs generally have savory and aromatic properties that make them desirable as a flavoring, garnish for food, medicine, and fragrance. There are different categories of herbs, including culinary herbs and medicinal herbs, and thyme has properties that make it fall into more than one category. Thyme belongs to the genus Thymus of the mint family Lamiaceae evergreen herbs. It is also related to the Oregano genus
- It is a perennial plant: Perennial crops do not need to be replanted and automatically grow back after harvesting. These kinds of crops come with some benefits such as erosion control because the plant remains in the same place for long. They also improve efficient water use because their roots travel deep into the soil and can hold moisture for a more extended period. The extensive root system also allows them to take up nutrients more efficiently, reducing the need for substitution, and lowering production cost. From this information, thyme, therefore, is not only useful when consumed but also when cultivated. A hot, sunny location with soil that is well-drained is the best place to grow the herb. It can grow up to 15 inches long and has a strong scent that attracts bees that help to pollinate the plant. The flowers range in color from lilac to purple to white. It is usually reproduced by cuttings, seeds and or by dividing sections of the root. It does well in drought as well as cold temperatures and can be found growing on mountain highlands. However, temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit will kill them.
- It has a fish named after it: The fish belonging to the genus Thymallus has the smell of thyme emanating from its flesh. It is for this reason that the genus name of the fish popularly known as the grayling came about.
What Are the Health Benefits of Thyme
Since ancient Egypt and Greek, thyme has been used in many ways to solve health problems. There are about 300 different types of Thymus, with Thymus vulgaris as the most popular. The plant is mostly processed into other forms like oils (known as thymol) before it is used. The internal and external health benefits of thyme include the following:
- Oral and Dental health: The antiseptic properties of thyme enable it to play a vital role in preventing bad breath and tooth decay. A drop of thyme oil in warm water makes a great mouth wash: swish it in your mouth and spit it out. The antibacterial properties will take care of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Other oral issues that thyme takes care of are gingivitis and plaque. Some studies serve as proof of these benefits as well as others to show how else thyme helps with oral health.
- Eye Health: Thyme contains Vitamin A, which is known to promote eyesight and vision. The herb helps with reversing the effects of a lack of the vitamin, night blindness. It also helps with other eye-related issues – macular degeneration is one example. Macular degeneration is when the macula of the eye is damaged, causing either vision loss or blurry vision. This usually occurs in the center of the visual field. It is usually age-related but is still can be made better with thyme.
- Respiratory Health: Thyme has been used traditionally in curing respiratory problems like bronchitis and cough. It is known to reduce the production of sputum, a mixture of mucus and saliva coughed up from the throat, usually due to an infection. Thyme, when combined with other herbs and taken orally, has been shown to improve respiratory health. You can consume thyme in tea form to get rid of your cough, and it will yield the same results.
- Heart Health: Thyme plays a vital role in improving heart function as well as lowering blood pressure. The extract from the herb showed evidence of a reduction in heart rate in rats with high blood pressure. These results could be generalized to the human race. Thyme is also known to further reduce cholesterol levels, and it is advised to replace salt in your diet with the herb.
- Inflammation: Thyme is known to contain Carvacrol, a chemical with the ability to suppress inflammation. The compound is found in the oil and helps with relieving pain from ailments like gout and arthritis.
- Neurological Disorders: Thyme is known to help with Developmental Coordination Director (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia, which affects movement. Studies show that the herb improves the symptoms in children. However, more research needs to be conducted to establish a firm ground about the results.
- Digestive Health: Thyme helps with digestive health by reducing harmful gases that may be produced in the stomach. This is due to the carminative properties present in the volatile oils in thyme. Thyme also has antispasmodic properties, which is the reduction of involuntary spasm in muscle to relieve intestinal cramps.
- Skin Health: The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties of thyme contribute to thyme benefits for the skin. You can use thyme oil as a home remedy to protect your skin from infections and other related issues. It relieves burns and heals wounds, cuts, sores, and scars. It also acts as a natural rash remedy. Eczema is another skin problem that thyme helps to treat. The skin condition, characterized by dry, scaly skin and blisters is usually caused by poor digestion and stress. As mentioned earlier, thyme helps tremendously with digestion, and so it is like killing two birds with one stone. For the treatment of acne, you can use thyme with witch hazel. Mix the two is warm water and leave for 20 minutes and then apply to the affected area using cotton balls. After another 20 minutes, wash your face with warm water and voila!
- Boosts the Immune system: All the earlier mentioned properties and other nutrients present in thyme work together to improve health in the body. It is loaded with Vitamin C, which does a lot when it comes to the immune system. Vitamin C protects the immune system by helping the cells to fight against incoming diseases. Together with Vitamin A, which is also present in thyme, it provides a shield against any harmful organisms.
- Cancer: Thyme is known to fight cancer, especially that which attacks the colon. This is not surprising as it has already been established that thyme plays a vital role in the improvement of the digestive system. The components present in thyme that help with this include ursolic acid, beta-sitosterol, oleanolic acid, and lutein. Thyme has also shown to be useful in treating breast cancer by increasing the death of the cancer cells.
Aside from these thyme benefits, sometimes it might not be too good for your health, mainly if not used the right way or in excess. Some people are sensitive to the herb, and if you are one of them, you should avoid it at all costs. Always patch test it before using it for a large area of your body. Also, thymol, in its pure form, can have adverse effects and so be careful with how much you use. Consult a professional before going on thyme medication, and make sure you take them exactly how it is prescribed. When taking it as tea, only drink it once or twice a day. Consuming thyme oil can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, and headaches and it can also be irritating to the skin.
What Is Thyme Used For?
Thyme is generally used for medicinal and culinary purposes. Some thyme medicinal uses are mentioned in the benefits above. There are different thyme uses, and some of them are not well known. One area that thyme is mostly used in is the field of Therapy. In ancient times the herb was burned for courage and was used in baths to improve the mood. This practice is called aromatherapy and mainly involves using the smell of the herb for the prevention of illness and diseases through inhalation. The herb is also used as a preservative for corpses during funeral ceremonies. Thyme leaves are used by some as insecticides to repel different kinds of insects. Even though there is insufficient evidence for this, thyme has been associated with the improvement of hair growth when used for seven months with other essential oils. In the culinary arena, thyme is used in stabilizing cooking oils, for example, sunflower oil. The destabilization is as a result of lipid oxidation that occurs during food processing and storage. It can cause the food to lose safety, quality, and nutritional value. Also, thyme is usually used in savory dishes such as roasted or braised meat, fish, or vegetables. It is also used in baking and for adding flavor to soups, marinade, teas and cocktail elements.
Tips on How to Use Thyme
- It is safe to add thyme to food but discontinue use if you notice any digestive issues as a result of ingestion
- It is safe to apply thyme oil on the skin but avoid use if it causes irritation
- It is okay to take thyme medication but for short periods
- You can use thyme to season your meals
- Do not take thyme is larger doses than what was prescribed by your healthcare provider
- Do not use thyme two weeks before surgery
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can consume thyme in average amounts but under the supervision of a healthcare professional
- If you are allergic to Oregano you can also be allergic to thyme
From all the information given in this article it is clear that thyme is an indispensable plant that we need to protect. There’s still work to do regarding evidence of a lot of the thyme herb benefits, but currently, there isn’t any record of severe side effects. Nevertheless, pay close attention to what you’re ingesting and putting on your skin to make sure you can tell whether or not thyme’s for you.