Welcome to Kirsten's Herbal Garden...THYME

Common Thyme, or French Narrowleaf Thyme: University of WA Medicinal Herb Garden, July 2008 (Photo: K. Anderberg)

Thyme grows as little sticks with small waxy, tough, almond-shaped leaves. The leaves are pungent when rubbed between fingers. Its flowers are white and pink. Thyme is used medicinally, cosmetically and also in foods and drinks. It is a common garden herb.

In Germany, Thyme is a common cure for the cold and sore throats. Back in the late 1970's, when I worked at Naturally Venice health food store, in Venice, CA, I worked with a German woman with a thick accent. When I got sick one winter, she told me to make a strong thyme tea and to drink it to clear the mucous out of me. I had never heard of this before, so I made a tea from thyme and mints, and I was shocked at how well it worked. I was better again in no time. I have raised my son on thyme tea whenever he gets sick. And I also have made cough syrups from strong thyme tea and honey boiled down to a syrup. Thyme is great for stopping coughs.

<Cold and Flu Tea
Bastyr Naturopathic College offers recipes to help build up your immune system on their website ( http://www.bastyr.edu/news/recipes/default.asp) including recipes "Cold and Flu Tea." Bastyr's "Cold and Flu Tea" is a mixture of elderberry flowers, mint, yarrow flowers, linden leaves or yerba sante, thyme leaves, lemon grass, and ginger root. When I worked at a health food store in Venice, Ca., I worked with a German woman who said whenever anyone gets a flu or cold in the back hills of Germany where she is from, they begin to drink thyme tea immediately. I was stunned at how effective thyme tea was at helping reduce mucous, stop coughs, and at quickening healing time. I never heard anyone say thyme tea was good for you when you are sick as I grew up. I heard instead that chicken soup and 7-Up, of all things, was good for you when sick. To make thyme tea, just use thyme the way you would any tea. Steep it in hot water, strain, then drink. You can add a little mint with the thyme for flavor, and you can use honey to sweeten it, but you can almost feel the antiseptic power coming out of thyme tea as you drink it. Make it as strong as you can handle it. Even just breathing in the vapors from this tea is helpful.

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Thyme Gargle for Sore Throats
There are other easy herbal remedies for flu season as well. Make a thyme gargle, by making a strong tea out of thyme, sweeten it with a little honey, let cool, strain, then gargle with it often when you have a sore throat. You can also add sage and peppermint. (Do not use honey syrup for babies under one year old).

Common Thyme, or French Narrowleaf Thyme: University of WA Medicinal Herb Garden, July 2008 (Photo: K. Anderberg)

Thyme looks a lot like pennyroyal except pennyroyal has little balls on the sticks, rather than spiney leaves up and down them.

Thyme and Cheese Openface Sandwich
A sprig of fresh thyme on a piece of bread with cheese over it, then melted in the oven, tastes great. You can add other fresh herbs such as basil, sage, etc. as well.

Thyme Mouthwash
To make mouthwash for sore gums or toothache: boil water, then remove from heat and add any of the following herbs: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Calendula. Strain.

Thyme Cough Syrup
To make cough syrup, make a tea with 1 pint water, and 4 ounces dried thyme and 1 ounce dried mint. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a pan, then add a cup of honey or sugar to the tea water. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly until syrup thickens. Cool. Pour into glass bottles with corks, as other tops can explode if syrup ferments. You can store this syrup in the refrigerator to extend life. Use a spoonful to help stop coughing when needed.

Homemade Vapo-Rub
You can also make a homemade Vapo-Rub, out of essential oils, beeswax, and oils. Just heat up base oil in a double boiler, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Add herbs, such as thyme, mint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and any essential oils you may want to use as well. Let the herbs and essential oils heat into the base oil for a while. Strain the herbs out of the oil, and pour 3 fluid ounces of the herb-infused oil into a double boiler, and then add a small chunk of bees wax, about the size of a square Kraft's candy caramel, to the oil, and let melt into oil. Stir until it is all melted together and pour into glass jars to store. You can also make an ointment for a raw nose the same way as the Vapo-rub imitation, but just use soothing skin herbs, such as comfrey and calendula, instead of stronger herbs like eucalyptus and thyme.

Thyme for Athlete's Foot
Bathe feet frequently in thyme and marigold tea

Abbreviations: (t. = teaspoon, T. = Tablespoon, c. = cup)

DISCLAIMER: Do not eat or drink tea from any plant you have not fully studied and identified properly. Please consult with your local alternative herbal care specialist before using herbs you are not familiar with.


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