Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a versatile herb native to drier and rockier climates. This delicious herb is not only a kitchen staple, but it also has a secret: it's packed with health benefits.
In traditional Chinese medicine, thyme, or Bai Li Xiang, covers the stomach, lung, and spleen meridians. It is used to tonify Qi, tonify and warm the lungs, release energy to the exterior, and tonify the spleen. Thyme tea and thyme extract are popularly consumed in tea.
Thyme can be used fresh, dried, or in essential oil form for topical treatment. As a common kitchen essential, the plethora of potential health benefits of thyme is surprising.
The Health Benefits of Thyme
One of the main medicinal uses of thyme in traditional Chinese medicine is to treat colds, coughs, and flu by drinking thyme extract or thyme tea. In 2018, a study was done that determined that a combination of thyme and primula extract reduced inflammation and mucus in the airways of animal test subjects.
Furthermore, thyme oil is considered to have antispasmodic properties, due to its thymol content. The combination of primrose essential oil, and thyme essential oil has been shown to be effective at reducing coughs as well as reducing the duration of respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, when used together.
Thyme is also packed with important nutrients and minerals, such as vitamins A and C, as well as iron, fiber, and copper. These nutrients are important for immunity as well as having antioxidant properties which assist in eliminating free radicals in the body.
Additionally, thyme essential oils contain carvacrol. This is the active ingredient in thyme and is a phenolic monoterpenoid that is known to stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are both neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. Using thyme essential oils as aromatherapy or even incorporating fresh thyme into your diet may lessen symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Thyme also has powerful antibacterial properties and can be used to protect food against some bacteria, which may make it a viable prevention tactic against certain types of food poisoning. The antibacterial powers of thyme may also be effective in treating yeast infections; a study in 2021 found that thyme essential oil may be fungicidal even against fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans.
Two studies, one in 2018 and another in 2021 found a remarkably interesting discovery: both thyme and clove essential oils may have the ability to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cell lines. Terpenoids, a phytochemical group found in thyme, act as antioxidants and might protect cells from cancer. More studies are needed before finding any conducive results, but the ones that have been done look very promising.
Furthermore, thyme extract has been shown to be a potential treatment for both high cholesterol and high blood pressure. According to a 2014 study, an extract of Thymus linearis Benth, a species of thyme found in Pakistan and Afghanistan, significantly reduced heart rate and cholesterol in rats with high blood pressure.
The Benefits of Thyme Tea
Thyme tea is a popular way to consume thyme extract, and with it comes its own health benefits. It has been suggested that thyme tea may even benefit patients suffering from inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Additionally, thyme tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce joint pain and stiffness caused by these conditions. Natural compounds in thyme, thymol, and carvacrol are known to fight inflammation caused by elevated levels of the COX-2 enzyme.
Furthermore, drinking thyme tea may aid in weight loss. As a result of its polyphenol content, thyme is believed to interact with hormones that regulate metabolism and promote fat loss. Additionally, catechins present in thyme tea may inhibit digestive enzymes that break carbohydrates into sugar. Because of this, less sugar will be absorbed by the body, which may aid weight loss efforts.
The Recipe for Thyme Tea Is as Follows:
For one cup of tea, bring 250 ml of water to the boil.
Add 8-10 fresh sprigs of thyme or two teaspoons of dried thyme to a mug.
Add the hot water to the mug, and allow it to steep for around 5 minutes, covering the mug to prevent the aromatic oils from evaporating.
For a taste (and for extra health benefits), you can add fresh lemon, ginger, honey, or even
coriander and fennel seeds for Martha Stewart’s recipe.
Thyme is an extremely versatile herb, both in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Studies being conducted on thyme as an herbal medicine are showing some promising results for various illnesses and ailments, and we can expect to see more research being done in the coming years.
Book a 30-minute traditional Chinese medicine consultation with Yair Danon, our natural health specialist, for tips on how to use thyme as a health and wellness remedy as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
This blog is intended to provide general information regarding health and related topics. The information and other materials offered in this blog, website, or any other linked materials are not meant to be used in place of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be regarded as such. Please consult with a medical doctor or natural health specialist before starting a new medication, treatment, or natural supplement.