Thyme is a common ingredient in many popular dishes, and chances are you have some fresh or powdered thyme in your kitchen right now. While it adds a delicious flavor to meats, vegetables, soups, and stews, it also provides a range of health benefits.
Thyme has been used for centuries for its healing properties. Today, thyme essential oil is used to boost immune system function, improve circulation, remove toxins from the body, and alleviate stress. Experience the rejuvenating properties of the personal portable diffuser Healthy MONQ.
The History of Thyme
The word “thyme” comes from the Greek word thumos (also spelled thymos). This doesn’t exactly have a direct translation. However, it is commonly associated with a desire to fight against the injustices of the world. Additionally, it is associated with courage and strength, and is generalized as being the “essence of being a man.” Even so, thumos is believed to be a part of everyone and is not restricted to a particular gender.1
In ancient times, thyme was believed to promote courage and strength. In England in the middle ages, women embroidered a sprig of thyme onto the scarves of their knights who were going off to battle. Roman soldiers would bathe in thyme before going to battle to increase courage and strength. Even Scottish highlanders would make a tea of wild thyme to drink before going off to battle.2
The Ancient Egyptians used thyme as an aid to mummification. The Greeks used it in religious cleansing ceremonies, and the Sumerians used it as an antiseptic. Pliny even recommended thyme as a treatment for epilepsy.
Medieval herbalists used thyme to heal respiratory infections and reduce the chances of infection in wounds. They would often place it under pillows to promote a good night’s sleep free of bad dreams. In the 12th century, a German herbalist named Hildegard of Bingen prescribed thyme to patients suffering from body lice, leprosy, and the plague.3
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Druids considered thyme to be a sacred herb and often used it to protect against negativity and sadness. During the 18th century, thyme was an ingredient in Le Baume Tranquille, an herbal preparation used to relieve stress and nervous disorders. During the Crimean War, thyme was used on soldier’s clothes to protect them from lice, yellow fever, and other ailments.
Thyme essential oil is derived from Thymus vulgaris, which is a member of the mint family. Thyme is native to Southern Europe and is a perennial plant that grows close to the ground. Although the plant is native to Southern Europe, it’s now cultivated around the world.
Thyme essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. The resulting oil is pale yellow to reddish-brown in color and has a fresh, sweet, herbaceous scent.
Two different thyme essential oils are derived from Thymus vulgaris. After the first distillation, the resulting oil is known as red thyme essential oil and is reddish-brown in color. When this oil is distilled a second time, it is known as white thyme essential oil, which is pale yellow in color. Both of these thyme essential oils boast the same health benefits, although red thyme essential oil is more concentrated. 3
Thyme has a range of healing properties, and the essential oil is known for being an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, stimulant, tonic, insecticide, expectorant and even more. Its chemical composition consists primarily of:
Common Uses for Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil can be used topically, aromatically, and even internally. Some of the key health benefits of thyme essential oil are highlighted below.
The stimulating properties of thyme essential oil help increase circulation throughout the body, which promotes healing. Increasing circulation can increase blood flow to areas of the body that require more oxygen, protects the heart, and reduces the risk of developing a blood clot.5
Reduces the Appearance of Scars
Thyme essential oil is a cicatrizant, which means it promotes healing. When used topically, it can reduce the visibility of scars, as well as acne and other sores.
To reduce the appearance of scars and other marks, mix a few drops of thyme essential oil with a carrier oil and massage onto the affected area daily.
Boosts Immune System Function
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of thyme essential oil help boost immune system function and fight harmful pathogens. The antioxidant properties of thyme essential oil help to fight free radicals and reduce the risk of disease.
To give the immune system a boost, diffuse thyme essential oil throughout the home. Alternatively, use the oil topically by mixing a few drops with a carrier oil and using it as a massage oil.
Treats Skin Conditions and Minor Wounds
Thyme essential oil is commonly used topically to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. We already know that it can help to reduce the appearance of scars. It can also be used to reduce the chances of infection and treat rashes.
The antiseptic properties of thyme essential oil help speed up the healing of minor cuts, scrapes, bites, and burns, and keeps wounds from becoming infected.
Since thyme essential oil also has potent antioxidant properties, it helps to fight free radicals and reduce signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.6
To treat minor skin conditions, mix a few drops of thyme essential oil with a carrier oil and apply directly to the affected areas. If you have a rash or other condition that covers a large area of your body, you can also add a few drops of thyme essential oil to a bath.
Improves Respiratory Function
The expectorant and antispasmodic properties of thyme essential oil make it especially effective in treating respiratory conditions. If you are suffering from a cold, cough, flu, bronchitis, or other respiratory condition, breathing thyme essential oil can help reduce phlegm in the lungs, fight the bacteria and viruses causing the symptoms, and reduce spasms that lead to coughing.
To reduce the symptoms of these conditions, diffuse a few drops of thyme essential oil throughout the home. You can also add a few drops of thyme essential oil to a bowl of steaming water and inhale the vapors. To do so, cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for five minutes.
Alleviates Stress and Anxiety
Thyme essential oil helps relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, relaxing the mind and promoting feelings of tranquility. Additionally, it is a mental stimulant, which can help improve focus and fight fatigue.
To ease the mind and promote a sense of calm, diffuse thyme essential oil throughout the home. For a quick remedy for stress, use thyme essential oil in a personal essential oil diffuser like Happy or Mountain MONQ. Alternatively, mix with a carrier oil and use as a relaxing massage oil, or add a few drops to a warm bath.
The carminative properties of thyme essential oil help reduce the build-up of gas in the stomach and intestines. Excess gas can lead to stomach pain, cramps, and headaches.
To benefit from these carminative properties and reduce discomfort, add a few drops of thyme essential oil to a carrier oil and massage onto the lower abdomen.
As a diuretic, thyme essential oil helps stimulate urination. This helps reduce excess water weight, as well as aids in the removal of toxins from the body.
To experience these effects, diffuse thyme essential oil throughout the home or mix with a carrier oil and use topically as a massage oil.
Thyme essential oil helps to balance the hormone progesterone. Low progesterone levels are linked to infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Research published in 1998 in the journal Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine found that thyme oil is one of the top six oils with the highest progesterone-binding abilities.
Reduces Muscle Cramps
The antispasmodic properties of thyme essential oil help to reduce the pain associated with spasms that cause muscle cramps. It is also especially effective at reducing pain associated with menstrual cramps.
To relieve these symptoms, mix a couple of drops of thyme essential oil to a carrier oil and massage onto the affected area. For menstrual cramps, heating the massage oil before using can provide extra relief.
Alternative Uses for Thyme Essential Oil
Acts as a Natural Insecticide
Thyme essential oil is an ideal natural insecticide. It can be used to repel fleas, lice, bed bugs, beetles, and moths.
To use as an insecticide, add 10–12 drops of thyme essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well, and spray onto affected areas such as bed linens, wool, and kitchen surfaces. As a natural treatment for head lice, comb thyme essential oil through the hair with a fine-toothed comb daily until all the lice have been removed.
Promotes Oral Health
Thyme essential oil can be added to homemade mouthwashes and toothpaste as a natural way to reduce tooth decay, bad breath, or gingivitis. The antibacterial properties of thyme essential oil help kill the bacteria that cause these issues.
For a quick and easy way to keep your mouth clean and healthy, add a drop or two of thyme essential oil to a glass of warm water and swish around your mouth, then spit out. Repeat this routine daily after brushing.
Keeps Hair Healthy
Thyme essential oil helps keep hair healthy by stimulating hair growth and remedying dandruff. Thyme improves blood circulation to the scalp, which helps promote hair growth and reduce the appearance of thinning hair. The antibacterial properties help clean the scalp and reduce the bacteria that causes dandruff.7
To keep hair healthy, add a few drops of thyme essential oil to your shampoo. Alternatively, add a few drops of this essential oil to a cup of warm water and pour over your hair after washing for a cleansing rinse.
Safety and Precautions
Thyme essential oil is safe for topical, aromatic, and internal use when used with caution.
Before consuming any essential oils internally, you should always consult a doctor before use. Essential oils are very concentrated, so start with one drop at a time. Consuming thyme essential oil may cause a digestive upset; if you experience this when using it, stop internal use immediately.
If you have a bleeding disorder, you should avoid the use of thyme essential oil. Thyme oil can slow blood clotting and increase bleeding. Because of this, you should discontinue use of this oil at least two weeks before surgery.
Thyme essential oil may cause skin irritation in those with sensitive skin. Therefore, it is recommended to dilute with a carrier oil before topical use. Before applying to larger areas of skin, always conduct a patch skin test.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with a doctor before using any essential oils. Do not attempt to use this essential oil in place of a prescription medication or to treat a chronic condition before first consulting a medical professional.
Whether you’re new to essential oils or have been using them for years, thyme essential oil is a potent, versatile oil that should be a part of anyone’s collection.