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The aromatic leaves and soft purple flowers of the common Thyme plant offer us nourishing health benefits as we use them to flavor soups, stews, salads, chicken, lasagna, roasted vegetables, and whatever we add them to.

Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) both make excellent garden herbs, patio garden plantings, and a fragrant ground cover. The spicy floral scent in the summer months encourages deep breathing and a relaxed mind. I once had a friend who split a potted thyme plant into three parts, placing them in three regions of her lawn. Eleven years later, her 3/4 acre backyard was nearly covered with a carpet of strongly scented, pale lilac blooms that the whole neighborhood enjoyed.

Aromatic plants like the numerous varieties of Thyme are rich in volatile oils. As they are breathed in, these powerful volatile oils begin to clear the sinuses and open the lungs, as they move directly to the limbic brain, offering us a feeling of inner peace.

For hundreds of years, Thyme was used predominantly for calming anxiousness, agitation, irritability and a ’scattered mind’. It has been used for the relief of tension headaches, rashes and irritating skin conditions, women’s reproductive disorders, and prevention of wound infections.

In the past twenty or thirty years, Thyme has become an increasingly popular remedy for respiratory issues, especially sinus problems. Thyme, in the form of tea, tincture, capsules or as a culinary ingredient, can significantly support the lungs, throat and sinuses, while alkalizing those regions, making it harder for infections to get a foothold.

Nearly a decade ago, Irene and her four year son Julian, visited me for a Wellness Consultation. Julian had been a colicky baby and developed numerous sinus allergies, and had just been diagnosed with asthma. His pediatrician wanted to prescribe medication and a steroid inhaler. Irene was told that it may only be for a few years, or he may actually need to take these medications all his life. When she objected, the doctor told her enough horror stories to frighten her into taking the prescription over to the pharmacy to be filled.

The pharmacist attached the warning label, as they do, to the bag. Irene began to read it before stepping over to the cashier. Her eyes welled up. She felt faint, and her legs wobbled. “Oh my word!” she exclaimed aloud as she crumpled into the nearest chair. Julian hugged his Mom with a worried look in his eyes. She looked into those big, dark eyes and, surprising herself, smiled.

Taking a deep breath and regaining her composure, Irene stepped back up to the counter. “I’m sorry, but I am not going to be able to give this to my son.” She set the bag down, lifted Julian close to her chest, and walked out the door.

Sitting in my office, Irene listened to all that I suggested, and thought about how much Julian loved the aromas when she prepared homemade tomato sauce or lasagna. She began to use Thyme daily, a small pinch into morning oatmeal, a hint on his turkey or egg salad sandwich for lunch, and a few shakes into whatever was served for dinner. She also got an aromatherapy diffuser and used Thyme essential oil during the night, the time when Julian had experienced a lot of discomfort. Irene also made a few other small changes in diet and lifestyle, and it was only weeks later that Julian’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health. That spring, Julian joined the local soccer team. According to his Mother, he never experienced allergy or asthma problems again!

I, too, love to use Thyme essential oil during the winter months when the furnace is running and the air becomes stale. I like to place a few drops into a diffuser morning and night, or right onto my scarf to help my immune defenses as I work with folks who are often feeling under the weather when they come to see me. For people with pet, dust or mold allergies, Thyme oil can offer a respite from the numerous discomforts associated with these allergies.

Using a very small amount (1/8 to 1/4 tsp) of raw Thyme honey each day during allergy season is another beneficial strategy for the relief of airborne allergy issues. When raw Thyme honey is unavailable, drinking Thyme tea with a small amount of the most local raw honey available is of great benefit, too. Please remember, when you want to receive the nourishing health benefits from your herbal tea, you must cover your mug or tea pot while it steeps!

Many herbalists today think of Thyme for a spasmodic or persistent cough, irritated lungs and raw throat issues and for help for a colicky baby (usually given to the nursing Mom in tea form). For childhood digestive complaints, thyme tea or syrup can sooth an upset tummy.

Thyme can be used for chronic digestive problems in grownups, as well, chosen for its antimicrobial, carminative and anthelmintic properties. This means that it can help strengthen digestion from problems of infection, gas and parasites.

When choosing a Thyme or other herbal product, remember that a product’s quality is linked to how well it may support your wellness needs. Be sure it is organic, preferably locally grown and aromatic. Tired old herbs that have been on the shelf for years will provide few benefits.

You will find a few excellent Thyme products in your local co-op or health food store. In the Natural Living section, please look for Herb Pharm’s Thyme tincture. Herb Pharm also uses Thyme in their “Calm Breath”, “Children’s Winter Health Compound” and “Oral Health” formulas. The grocery department carries Thyme in the herb and spice section, and you’ll find a delicious Yogi tea called Breathe Deep in the tea section.

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One Response to “It’s Thyme for Your Good Health”

  1. on 10 Mar 2011 at 4:02 pm Sandy Reece

    I just loved your article, my son suffers from Acid reflux and Bile reflux has lots of sinus problems. I will talk with him about what I have just been reading. Thank you

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