Thyme or Thymus Vulgaris is a common herb which is generally used as a condiment or a spice and alternative herbal and domestic medicines in most parts of the world. Hypocrites,who lived around 460 BC to 370 BC, today known as ‘ father of western medicine’ recommended thyme for respiratory diseases and conditions. In 1340’s, when ‘Black Death’ swept across Europe, posies of thyme were worn for protection. The flowers, leaves and oil of this herb have been used to treat bed wetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, sore throat, colic, cough including whooping cough, bronchitis, flatulence and diuretic to increase urination.
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The chemical constituents of thyme are p-cymene, γ- terpinene, thymol, geraniol, linalool, gamma-terpeniol, carvacrol, α- thujone, α-pinnene, β- pinnene, camphene, borneol,b-caryophyllene, vitamin B6, vitamin c, vitamin A , copper, manganese, potassium, iron, flavonoids (lutolin, apigenin, naringenin have antioxidant property), zeaxanthin and lutein (eliminate free radicals).
It is a very potent herb and contains lot of phyto-chemicals in high concentrations.So one should be careful and not use it during pregnancy or in case of any serious illness without taking any advice from your medical practitioner.
The name thyme is derived from the Greek word ‘Thymus’ that means ‘perfume’ and was used as an incense in Greek temples. It was also given to josting knights for courage during middle ages.
The therapeutic benefits of thyme can be attributed to its properties such as
- Anti-septic Properties (being used in listerine due to presence of thymol)
- Bactericidal Properties
- Bechic (relieves cough)
- Antiplasmodic Properties
- Antirheumatic Properties
- Carminative (relieves gas)
- Diuretic Properties
- Expectorant (promotes sputum seceration)
- Hypertensive Properties
- Vermifuge substance (expels intestinal parasites)
- Boosts Immunity (stimulates thymus gland) and vision
- Antifungal Properties
- Treats Respiratory Issues (bronchitis).
Thyme attains its antibacterial property due to the presence of camphene and caryophyllene along with a fewer other components so that it can inhibit bacterial growth within and outside of our body. It can kill bacteria as well as keep them away from the organs in our body. So it becomes particularly beneficial in curing bacterial infections like B-Colitis, renal colic, bacterial infections in the genitals and urethra, intestines and respiratory system along with external wounds. The essential oil of thyme is a good anti septic with rare benefits providing safeguard to wounds and sores against infections.
Thymus Vulgaris as an Antioxidant
Thyme has been praised for thousands of years as a health booster having one of the highest antioxidant concentrations among all herbs. The phenolic antioxidants found in thyme are lutein, zeaxanthin and thymonin. All of these play a vital role in neutralizing and eliminating free radicals (cause of cancer) throughout our body. The healthy cells start to undergo apoptosis or spontaneous mutation because of the free radicals which are dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism thereby causing major damage to healthy cells. The antioxidants present in this herb helps to prevent the oxidative stress in all the organ systems of human body as well as the neural pathway. The antioxidant present in this herb exist in two forms :
- Flavonoid : Spigenin, Naringenin and Leutiolin
- Carotinoid : Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Thyme and its essential oil are widely used as an antifungal agent because it significantly enhances the intra-cellular killing of Candida Albicans which cause Yeast Infections in our human body. The fungus Candida albicans is a common cause of mouth and vaginal yeast infections and this recurring condition is often referred to as ‘thrush’. In this infection a thick, white, adherent growth on mucous membrane of mouth and throat occurs, so mouthwashes containing thymol are prescribed as natural treatment. The organic compound of thyme (thymol) has wide range of effects on body including its ability to prevent fungal and viral infections.
Thymus Vulgaris as an Immune System Booster
The anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of thyme due to some volatile components such as camphene and alpha-pinene are able to strengthen the immune system. Thyme is a natural immune system booster due to presence of high levels of vitamin C which stimulates the production of white blood cells, and are thus the first line of defense in body’s immune system. Vitamin C also plays a crucial part in the production of collagen, which is essential for the creation and repair of cells, muscles, tissues and blood vessels. This makes them effective both inside and outside the body, protecting the mucus membrane, gut and respiratory system from potential infections thereby strengthening the immune system.
Improves Circulation and Heart Health
Thyme has a rich blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals along with potassium and manganese which has many small effects on our heart. Potassium is a vasodilator which relaxes blood vessels lowering blood pressure and automatically reducing stress on the cardiovascular system. It keeps the heart valves functioning properly along with relaxing the arteries and veins (antispasmodic) to reduce stress on the heart. It can also strengthen cardiac muscles, toning up the heart as it is good for every part of our heart.
Anti-Rheumatic Properties of Thymus Vulgaris
The two main reasons behind rheumatism are arthritis and gout, arthritis occurs due to improper and obstructed circulation and gout happens due to increasing concentration of toxins like uric acid into blood stream. Thyme also acts as a stimulant which activates circulation thereby sorting the problem of obstructed circulation and is a cure for arthritis. Thyme also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent due to the presence of thymol.This powerful compound can help ease your joint pain promoting better range of motion.
Treats Respiratory Infections
Thyme acts as an expectorant and an anti- inflammatory substance, eliminating phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tracts.It also helps in breathing by reduction of inflammation and prevention of microbial development that can lead to illness. So, if you are suffering from bronchitis, chronic asthma, congestion, cold and flu, blocked sinuses or seasonal allergies then brewing thyme leaves into a tea or decoction can be the best way to achieve relief from this sort of respiratory ailments.