Not only is thyme a fragrant and versatile herb for cooking, it has a wide range of therapeutic uses thanks to the potent antiseptic compound, thymol, found in the plant’s leaves. Thyme is an effective and well-known remedy for coughs and sore throats, but more and more research is piling up about thyme’s anti-microbial, anti-cancer and other health benefits. Here are some of my favorite uses for thyme:
Eliminating Coughs, Respiratory Infections, Bronchitis and Whooping Cough: Thyme is officially recognized in Germany as a treatment for coughs, respiratory infections, bronchitis and whooping cough.Thyme contains flavonoids that relax muscles in the trachea linked to coughing and inflammation. To make a cough-eliminating tea: Add 2 teaspoons of crushed, fresh or dried thyme leaves to 1 cup of boiled water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink.
Beating Fungal Diseases: As an increasing number of fungal conditions have become drug resistant research about thyme’s anti-fungal activity couldn’t have come at a better time. Thyme has been found to be effective against Aspergillus spores—a common type of mold that can cause the lung condition Aspergillosis in susceptible individuals. In one study researchers found that not only was thyme effective at inhibiting growth of fungi, it also increased the potency of the drug fluconazole to kill the disease-causing fungi. Another study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that thyme is effective against drug-resistant strains of Candida fungi—the culprit behind yeast infections.
Soothing Back Spasms: According to world-renowned botanist James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, thyme’s natural essential oils effectively reduced his back spasms.
Beating Headaches: Medical anthropologist John Heinerman, PhD, author of Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, recommends drinking thyme tea to treat headaches. He uses one teaspoon of dried thyme per cup of hot water. He also recommends soaking cloths in thyme tea to make a compress to ease aching muscles of the neck, back and shoulders to combat tension headaches.
Helping to Prevent or Treat Cancer: Research in the journal BMC Research Notes found that thyme in combination with Middle Eastern oregano was effective at inhibiting human leukemia cells, suggesting that the herb may hold potential in the natural treatment of cancer.
10 Ways to Use Thyme
Because thyme is so versatile, it can be used in most savory dishes. Use fresh sprigs or dried leaves of thyme in/with:
Bean dishes (Cassoulets)
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty Cooking