Autumn is now here and along with the changing leaves come the colder temperatures and the first chills of the year. If this change of season has given you a tickle in the throat, then thyme is the herb for you. While many people associate the flavour of thyme with pizzas or roast chicken, thyme deserves a place in both the kitchen and the medicine cupboard.
While there are many wonderful varieties of thyme to plant in your garden, the thyme we use medicinally is Thymus vulgaris. It may not be the flashiest plant to look at with its tiny grey-green leaves, but it is choc full of potent active ingredients that have numerous therapeutic effects in our bodies.
The amazing fragrance that is released when you rub thyme leaves between your fingers shows the presence of essential oils in the plant, and these are just some of the components that make thyme such an effective medicine.
For centuries thyme has been used for all manner of coughs, colds and sore throats. It was often prescribed as a syrup and was used for whooping cough, bronchitis, sore throats and tonsillitis. As with so many of our medicinal herbs, modern scientific testing and clinical trials validate these traditional uses.
There are many ways in which thyme works on the throat and lungs:
• By reducing the spasm (relaxing the throat, calming the cough)
• By killing the bugs (thyme demonstrates significant antibacterial and antifungal activity)
• By soothing the inflammation of the tissues (thyme is an anti-inflammatory)
• By reducing mucous and phlegm
In addition to the extract of thyme, the properties of honey made from the flowers of wild thyme here in New Zealand show powerful medicinal actions. Wild thyme grows abundantly in Central Otago, originally brought to the area by gold miners in the 1800’s. Who knew that nature’s medicine could taste so good?