This simple (but powerful) ‘kitchen remedy’ is a member of the Mint family, the Labiatae. It grows densely in good quality, sunny soil, although it can benefit from a good mulch at season’s close to overwinter well. Cut back the longer, straggly stems as well for better growth the next season. We harvest the leaves and stems before flowering, usually in June.
Elemental associations: Water
Phytochemistry: Volatile essential oil, flavonoids, triterpenes
Actions: Antiseptic, expectorant, carminative, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory
Specific systems: External use, respiratory
Thyme makes a great wound-wort, as the powdered leaves and stems are strongly antiseptic and also help reduce some of the pain and swelling associated with inflammation from wounds and contusions. It can be used directly, or the tincture is also quite effective for this purpose. Best is the essential oil, somewhat diluted of course (full-strength can be a bit irritating).
As a respiratory protectant and antiseptic, Thyme really shines. Use it in any cases of cough or lung congestion, especially if there is a history or threat of bronchial infection, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. It should be taken as a tea or tincture, and as an ‘herbal steam’ and compress in these cases. Remember – saturate the system! Thyme can really protect the lungs from a worsening or deepening of infection, relying both on its expectorating and anti-infective powers.
Finally, combine with Goldenseal or other bitter, yellow, antiseptic roots for cases of stomach flu or food poisoning (again, for its antiseptic action). Indications: Lower respiratory infection, stomach infection
Contraindications: High doses contraindicated during pregnancy
Preparation/Dosage: Tea of the dry tops, 2 TBS per quart of water, infused for 30 minutes. This can be drunk, or used for a compress to apply on the chest. Use the essential oil for steams, about 10-15 drops in a quart of hot water; the hot tea can also be used, but is not as effective. An excellent tincture is made from the fresh leaves and stems, 70% alcohol, 1:4 to 1:10. Take ¼ teaspoon 4-5 or more times daily.