The herb known as thyme is native to Asia, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. In addition to these traditional growing places, thyme is also widely cultivated throughout North America.
Thyme has been valued for thousands of years for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal uses. Thyme was even used by those in ancient Egypt as an embalming agent for deceased pharaohs.
The ancient Greeks valued thyme mainly for its aromatic properties, and thyme was frequently burned as incense in the temples of Greece. In addition, thyme was seen by the Greeks as a symbol of admiration and courage. This association of thyme with courage continued throughout the Middle Ages, and it was traditional for women to present their knights with a spring of thyme. Since at least the 16th century, thyme oil has been used as an antiseptic, both as a mouthwash and as a topical preparation.
Major benefits of thyme
Thyme has long been used in traditional medicine to treat chest problems and respiratory issues, including coughing, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Recent research into these traditional uses of thyme has pinpointed the compounds that are responsible for these effects. In particular, the volatile oil of thyme is known to include such healing compounds as borneol, carvacolo, geraniol and thymol.
Thymol is thought to be the most important and most medicinally valuable of the elements in thyme. The healthy effects of thymol have been well documented, and thymol has been shown to provide protection on a cellular level. In particular, DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid was increased as a result of supplementation with thyme in a recent study, and it is thought that this increased production of DHA is largely responsible for the cell protecting effects of this herb.
It is thought that the cell protecting benefits of thyme may be able to mitigate the effects of aging, and in addition thyme is known to be a food that is rich in antioxidants, and in the important mineral known as manganese.
In addition, thyme has been shown to have strong antimicrobial benefits, and the volatile oil components of thyme have been shown to be effective against a variety of harmful bacterial and fungal infections. Some of the microbes that these essential oils have been shown to fight include Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei.
For many thousands of years, spices, herbs and other foodstuffs have been used to preserve foods, to provide much needed nutrients and to prevent contamination by harmful microbes.
Thyme has been shown to be one of the most nutrient dense of all spices, and it sports a truly impressive array of minerals, vitamins and other important nutrients. In addition, thyme provides a great flavor and is highly useful in a seemingly endless variety of recipes.
Whenever and wherever possible, it is best to choose fresh thyme over the dried herb. Fresh thyme will have a superior flavor, and it may have a superior nutrient content as well. The leaves of fresh thyme should appear fresh, and the leaves should be of a vibrant green-gray color. Thyme leaves should contain no yellowing or dark spots.
Fresh thyme can be stored refrigerated, either in a dampened paper towel or in its original packaging. When using dried thyme it is important to store it in a dark, dry and cool location, and the dried herb will keep in this way for up to six months.
Originally posted 2019-10-12 12:06:53.