Herb of the Week ~ Thyme

Thyme is a perennial herb that is basically a small, many-branched, aromatic shrub (6-12 inches in height).  It has small lilac to pink flowers in June and July.  It is native to the western Mediterranean region but is cultivated widely.  It has a green taste with something of a clove aftertaste.  It blends well with lemon, garlic, and basil, and is used as a garnish in salads and chowders.  It can be used with just about any meat, casserole, stew, soup, or vegetable dish.

Thyme is an easy plant to grow, and will do well in sun or partial shade. Make sure the site is well-drained, as Thyme does not like wet feet.  Bees are attracted to the flowers, and as such, Thyme  is a good addition to a Habitat type of gardening scheme.   The smaller varieties can be grown between brick pavers on pathways so the delicious scent can be smelled while walking over them.  Thyme is a wonderful container plant, cascading beautifully over the sides of its container, and it is also an excellent rock garden addition due to its cascading habit. 

The origin of the name “Thyme” has been traced to two possible sources.  Thymus is a Greek name for “courage,” but to the Greeks it also meant “to fumigate.”  It has been used through the centuries as a remedy for many ailments, from epilepsy to melancholy.  Nowadays, it is prescribed by herbalists for intestinal worms, gastrointestinal ailments, bronchial problems, laryngitis, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.  It has antiseptic properties, and can be used as a mouthwash, skin cleanser, anti-fungal agent for athlete’s foot and as an anti-parasitic for lice, scabies, and crabs.  For skin inflammations and sores, make a poultice by mashing the leaves into a paste.

To use Thyme as an anti-fungal agent or as a parasitic, mix four ounces of Thyme to a pint of alcohol, or buy the essential oil and use sparingly on the affected area.  For bronchitis and gastric problems, make a tea to be used once per day.  Add honey as a sweetener, if desired.

The essential oil of Thyme (Thymol) can cause adverse reactions if taken in it’s pure form, so use Thyme-based medications sparingly.  If taken in a tea, drink only once or twice per day, and if used on the skin, be aware that it may cause irritation.

Thyme is bound to Venus and Air.  As with many herbs, it can be burned as a purifier, and inhaling the burning scent is thought to enhance psychic powers and renew energy.  Burn it in the home to banish evil and to purify the home or a specific room. 

When carried on the person, Thyme is thought to inspire courage, attract good health, and protect from negativity, such as at funerals or other sad or unpleasant occasions. Carry a sprig in your pocket or make a sachet.

Thyme can also be added to the bath for purifying and mental clarity.  Put a handful in cheesecloth and hang it from the faucet while the bath water is running. Fresh sprigs can be placed in a pillow to promote sleep and prevent nightmares.



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