Thyme is an aromatic evergreen herb that is a staple spice in cuisines across the world owing to its strong flavour and distinct taste. This refreshing herb that goes with the botanical name Thymus Vulgaris belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. It is a well-known herb for its indispensable medicinal benefits, right from the leaves, flowers, and oil of thyme has been used for ages for treating several health maladies. There are more than 400 subspecies of thyme that are credited to have culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, however, Thymus vulgaris is the most cultivated herb for culinary purposes.
The name thyme is derived from the Latin word “thymus” which is the Greek word ‘thumu’ which means smoke owing to its stimulating fragrance. Famed as a natural healer, thyme oil was used since time immemorial for shielding a person from poisoning, promoting digestion and remedying common cold and cough. Thanks to its unique taste, though thyme has remained a culinary staple, it also boasts a wealth of beneficial medicinal and therapeutic qualities.
Thyme is an indigenous herb to the Mediterranean and Asian regions, and it is best grown in hot, sunny regions with well-drained soil. It tolerates drought climate and can be cultivated by seed, cuttings or dividing rooted sections of the plant and hybridize very easily. The stems are usually narrow and woody with paired leaves or flower clusters. The leaves are evergreen, arranged in opposite pairs, oval and small, 4-20 mm long, ranging from pale green shades to deep green and olive, as well as bronze or silver tinge. The flowers are arranged in dense terminal heads with an uneven calyx and white, lilac, purple or pink in colour. There are four varieties of thyme that exists - common thyme, red creeping thyme, caraway thyme and lemon thyme. The goodness of bioactive compounds, essential oils and medicinal properties in thyme has been highly valued in treating several health conditions.
Thyme is known by other common names such as Garden Thyme, French Thyme, Spanish Thyme, Tomillo, Van Ajwayan, Vanya Yavani. In India thyme is known by vernacular names such as Banajwain in Hindi, Marizha, Masho and Rangsbur in Punjabi and Hasha in Urdu.
Thyme is a key ingredient in French, Italian and Caribbean cuisines. It is largely used to enhance the zest and aroma of meats, gravies, soups and stews. Although it is highly flavourful, it does not overpower the taste when melded with other herbs and spices. It is available both fresh and dried. While summer-seasonal, fresh thyme is mostly available all-round the year that is sold in bunches of sprigs. Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than most other herbs. Dried, grounded thyme is required in less quantity when substituted for fresh ones in dishes. Also, when compared with bay leaf, thyme releases its flavours slowly, hence it is added early in the cooking process.
The essential oil of thyme comprises 20-55% thymol, which is credited to have antiseptic and antibiotic traits. It is used in mouthwashes, medicated bandages, and fungal creams. While a soothing tea made using the herb is beneficial in treating respiratory infections and combats cough and bronchitis. Further, Ayurveda, Siddha, and Chinese medicine greatly value this humble herb for its incredible potential in treating a range of respiratory disorders, gastritis, and skin woes to mention a few.
Nutritional Value of Thyme Spice
Bestowed with a treasure trove of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, thyme hold a key role in optimising the overall health and well-being of the body. Laden with thymol a potent essential oil in thyme, that possess antifungal and antiseptic traits. Aside from these, it is also an abundant source of phenolic antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, lutein, apigenin, naringenin, luteolin and thymonin that are valuable in triggering the immune system and keeping infections at bay. Thyme also supplies vast reserves of potassium, calcium iron, selenium, vitamin B complex, K, C and folic acid that are essential for the optimal functioning of the system.
Health Benefits Of Thyme
Being intrinsically rich in vitamin A, an antioxidant this aromatic herb improves eyesight and lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. It also contains a wealth of phenolic compounds, which protect mucus membranes and optic cells from oxidative damage. Consuming an infusion of thyme or using thyme oil eases dry eye problems.
Controls Blood Pressure
Thyme is loaded with potassium, a vital mineral, which is an essential component of cell and body fluids. It aids in regulating heart rate and maintaining blood pressure under normal levels. Sipping a refreshing cup of thyme tea reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients and improve blood circulation.
Cures Cold And Cough
Blessed with antiseptic and antibiotic traits, thyme tea is a sure shot remedy for common cold and cough. Further, the essential oil possesses strong antimicrobial properties which are used majorly for treating sore throats and bronchitis. The presence of carvacrol content in thyme oil helps in providing relief from sore throat.
Thyme is an impressive source of vitamin K, calcium, manganese and iron, all these nutrients play a vital role in strengthening bone and promoting bone development. Thus, adding thyme to the diet aids in maintaining stronger bones and averts the risk of bone fractures in elderly people.
Augments Heart Health
Strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of thyme helps in reducing inflammation, which is the main cause of heart ailments. Thyme oil packed with phytonutrients promote cardiac health by improving the functioning of the cardiac valves, relaxing the veins, and arteries and strengthening heart muscles.
Meeting the demands of essential vitamins that the body needs can be a tough task. Add this aromatic herb brimmed with vitamin A, C, and B complex, and minerals iron, selenium, and manganese to boost your immune system. Consuming thyme tea on a regular basis helps to strengthen defence mechanisms and optimises overall health.
Also Read: 6 Must-To -Add Herbs To Boost Your Overall Health This Winter
Thyme essential oil is used largely for aromatic and therapeutic purposes owing to the abundance of active substance, carvacrol. Several studies have shown that carvacrol increases concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, two major hormones that control mood and have a positive impact on your mental and physical well-being.
Thyme Uses For Hair And Skin
A good supply of nutrients to the hair follicles assures a stronger and voluminous mane. Thyme essential oil packed with hair-friendly nutrients improves the blood circulation to the scalp and promotes hair growth and averts thinning of hair. Moreover, strong antibacterial properties help in eliminating dandruff and reduce itchiness, and incessant hair loss, thereby guaranteeing the regeneration of healthy hair.
Acne is a common problem affecting people of all age groups and if you’re tired of trying various remedies for acne with no better results, then here is a natural healer - thyme. This healing herb laden with strong antibacterial traits is effective in combatting acne breakouts. It also supports in sustaining skin health by fending off all bacteria and pathogens causing several skin conditions. Thyme essential oil is diluted with water and used as a toner to tighten skin and make it look youthful.
Lemon Thyme Rasam
1 cup tamarind water
2 tsp rasam powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup chopped, tomato
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
Salt to taste
Water as needed
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 sprig curry leaves
Soak tamarind in a cup of water for 20 minutes and then filter the water.
In a deep bottom, vessel add tamarind water, tomatoes, rasam powder, cumin, pepper powder, hing and salt, add chopped thyme leaves and stir well.
Allow the mixture to boil on medium flame, till the tomatoes are cooked.
Let the rasam simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, so that the raw taste of the spice powder incorporates well into the rasam.
Adjust salt and cook for 3 more minutes and turn off the heat.
In a pan add a teaspoon of ghee, and season with mustard and jeera seeds. Add curry leaves, and red chilli, let it crackle and switch off the flame.
Pour tadka into the rasam. Finally, squeeze the lemon juice into thyme rasam just before serving.
Enjoy this comfort food along with hot rice and papad.
Thyme is renowned for its impressive phytonutrients which are attributed to have gut promoting and decongestant actions. Thus, it is a sure shot natural remedy for curing common, cold, bronchitis, cough, sore throat and treating digestive woes. Lemon juice is laden with vitamin C for boosting defence mechanisms and safeguarding the body from disease. Furthermore, tamarind is a good source of calcium and magnesium that fortifies bones and prevents osteoporosis and bone fractures.
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups water
Honey to taste
In a pan add water and boil well.
Remove pan from the stove and add herbs, cover with a lid and steep for 15 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup and serve hot sweetened with little honey or any sweetener of choice.
Thyme is a treasure trove of nutrients such as selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and vitamins K, C and folic acid that support eliminating free radicals, boosting skin and hair health and strengthening immunity. Cinnamon, bestowed with potent antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial traits supports gut health and treats common cold, cough and sore throat.
Thyme herb is mainly used for culinary purposes and is considered safe when used in moderate amounts. However, excess consumption of this aromatic herb may cause irritation of the mucous membranes, abdominal cramps, headaches, and dizziness. Also, unlike most essential oils, thyme oil can be taken orally, although in limited quantities. Overconsumption of thyme oil may lead to an abnormal drop in blood pressure.
Thyme oil and supplements should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can increase the risk of miscarriage. But the use of thyme in cooking does not pose any risk. Thyme oil or supplement should not be given to children.