Thymus vulgaris (organic)
Native to Spain and the Mediterranean region; now found throughout Asia Minor, Algeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Israel, the USA, Russia, China and central Europe. The oil is mainly produced in Spain but also in France, Israel, Greece, Morocco, Algeria, Germany and the USA.
One of the earliest medicinal plants employed throughout the Mediterranean region, well known to both Hippocrates and Dioscorides. It was used by the ancient Egyptians in the embalming process, and by the ancient Greeks to fumigate against infectious illness; the name derives from the Greek thymos meaning 'to perfume'. It is also a long-established culinary herb, especially used for the preservation of meat.
It has a wide range of uses, though in Wesrern herbal medicine its main areas of application are respiratory problems, digestive complaints and the prevention and treatment of infection. In the British Herbal Phamacopoeia it is indicated for dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, bronchitis, pertussis, asthma, children's diarrhoea, laryngitis, tonsillitis and enuresis in children.
Anthelmintic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiputrescent, antirheumatic, antiseptic (intestinal, pulmonary, genito-urinary), antispasmodic, antitussive, antitoxic, aperitif, astringent, aphrodisiac, bactericidal, balsamic, carminative, cicatrisant, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, fungicidal, hypertensive, nervine, revulsive, rubefacient, parasiticide, stimulant (immune system, circulation), sudorific, tonic, vermifuge.
Red thyme oil, serpolet (from wild thyme), 'thymol' and 'carvacrol' type oils all contain quite large amounts of toxic phenols (carvacrol and thymol). They can irritate mucous membranes, cause dermal irritation and may cause sensitization in some individuals. Use in moderation, in low dilution only. They are best avoided during pregnancy.
White thyme is not a 'complete' oil and is often adulterated. Lemon thyme and 'linalol' types are in general less toxic, non-irritant, with less possibility of sensitization - safe for use on the skin and with children..
Skin care: Abscess, acne, bruises, burns, cuts, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites, lice, gum infections, oily skin, scabies.
Circulation muscles and joints: Arthritis, cellulitis, gout, muscular aches and pains, obesity, oedema, poor circulation, rheumatism, sprains, sports injuries.
Respiratory system: Asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, laryngitis, sinusitis, sore throat, tonsillitis.
Digestive system: Diarrhoea, dyspepsia, flatulence.
Genito-urinary system: Cystitis, urethritis.
Immune system: Chills, colds, flu, infectious diseases.
Nervous system: Headaches, insomnia, nervous debility and stress-related complaints - 'helps to revive and strengthen both body and mind'.
Other uses The oil is used in mouthwashes, gargles, toothpastes and cough lozenges. 'Thymol' is isolated for pharmaceutical use in surgical dressings, disinfectants etc. Used as a fragrance component in soaps, toiletries, aftershaves, perfumes, colognes, etc. Extensively employed by the food and drink industry, especially in meat products.