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Thyme is a small, aromatic shrub that grows practically all over the world. In Italy it can be found everywhere, both cultivated and as a spontaneous plant. From the plain and up to altitudes of 800, 900 meters. It belongs to the Labiatae family and originates from the areas bordering the Mediterranean. It prefers warm climates and light and sandy soils. It can reach a height of about 40 centimeters. It is a perennial plant with slightly lanceolate gray-green leaves and flowers ranging from white to pink and lilac. Its full name is Thymus vulgaris L. also called Thyme Major. There is another variety, called Lemon Thyme, with lilac-colored flowers and a characteristic lemon scent. It is also called lemon thyme or citrus thyme. A variety highly prized for its medicinal properties is Wild Thyme. It is harvested between May and July, cutting the flowering stems up to about ten centimeters below the flowers and then left to dry in the shade. Thyme harvesting generally takes place in late summer. This plant is known for both its aromatic and medicinal properties. It was also appreciated by the ancient Egyptians, by the Romans. In the Middle Ages the ladies embroidered spikes of thyme on the uniforms of the knights as a sign of good luck. The parts of the plant used in herbal medicine are the flowers, the leaves and the ends of the stems.


Thyme is a strongly aromatic plant. In the kitchen it is used to flavor various dishes, such as rolls and roasts. But also to prepare aromatic liqueurs and wines. This plant is also known and appreciated for its medicinal properties, including antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Thyme contains active ingredients that also have fluidifying and anti-inflammatory properties and that make it useful in case of cough, sore throat and inflammation of the oral cavity. The active ingredients that allow to relieve common ailments such as colds and sore throats are the same ones that give the plant that extraordinary aromatic essence, very popular in our kitchens, namely essential oils, including thymol and carvacrol and tannins. Thymol and carvacrol are phenolic substances that give thyme its characteristic aromatic smell. Carvacrol is also present in rosemary. But it is the presence of thymol that allows the thymus to perform an important antiseptic function in the oral cavity, so much so that it is also used as a component of many toothpastes. The tannins present in the bark of many plants can have beneficial effects on digestion and gastrointestinal functions, relieving diarrhea, but they can also have antifungal and antibacterial properties, helping to fight infections. The thymus also has diuretic functions, it favors the regulation of the menstrual cycle and for this reason it is not recommended in pregnancy, as it can favor abortions and premature births. Thyme also has external effects to stretch the face and eliminate skin spots.

How to use

In the kitchen, to flavor foods and prepare tasty recipes, dried stems or twigs are used in ventilated and shady areas. After harvesting, the leaves are removed from the branches. As a medicinal remedy, thyme is used in the form of herbal tea and syrup, but also as a preparation to be inhaled. The thyme tea is useful in case of cough and bronchitis. To prepare it you need one or two grams of dried thyme and about 200 ml of water. After boiling, the dried herbs are left to infuse for ten minutes. The therapeutic dose is one cup of thyme several times a day. With the herbal tea you can also gargle for mouth inflammations, such as canker sores. Inhalation of thyme is obtained from the herbal tea of ​​dried thyme leaves. The herbal tea must be quite hot. To this you can add a little oil. The preparation is inserted into the upper part of an inhaler, such as the one used to make aerosol. Inhalation should last about 3 minutes and should be done in case of a cold or sinusitis. For a fat cough, thyme syrup is used. To prepare it, you need two bowls of dried thyme leaves, a liter of water, a kilo of sugar and a saucepan. The syrup is obtained from the infusion to which sugar is added. The mixture is simmered. Finally, the foam is removed, cooled and placed in a bottle. The recommended dosage is 20 ml of syrup three times a day, to be dissolved also in milk or water.

Thyme: Products

Thyme is easily found in pharmacies, herbalists, parapharmacies and e-commerce sites. It is also sold in bags of dried herbs in drugstores as a seasoning for foods. The pharmaceutical forms used in herbal medicine are syrup and tablets. Thyme syrup is sold in packs of 200 ml and costs around 14 euros. Dried thyme herbs for herbal tea, in packs of 50 grams, cost around 3.50 euros. Thyme is also sold in the form of chewable tablets mixed with other substances such as propolis, echinacea and vitamin C, to be used in case of sore throat or inflammation of the oral cavity. A pack of 60 tablets costs around 10 euros.

Thyme - Thymus vulgaris

Thyme belongs to the Lamiaceae family, like basil, mint or lavender. It is a perennial shrub that forms dense and compact bushes, and can reach 20-30 cm in height. The stems are thin, woody and fragile, and the persistent leaves are narrow, elongated and very fragrant, with a more or less intense green color and gray shades.

It blooms from May to July, depending on the species. The flowers are pinkish white, and very rich in nectar, therefore they are extremely sought after by bees. In fact, thyme is a melliferous plant, and thyme honey is very valuable.

How to plant creeping thyme

As already mentioned, the cultivation of creeping thyme is a simple process due to its compatibility in a variety of soils and light exposures. Although this plant cover prefers well-drained, light-textured soils, it will grow quite well in less than desirable environments and develop from sunny to slightly shady environments.

The soil must be kept moist, but not wet, as creeping thyme in full growth risks suffocating the roots and causing edema. The pH of the soil for growing creeping thyme plants should be neutral to slightly alkaline.

Creeping thyme ground cover can be propagated by cuttings or by stem division and can of course be purchased from the local nursery as a plantation or established seed. The cuttings of the creeping thyme plant should be taken in early summer. The seeds should start growing when the thyme caterpillar is inside or they can be sown in spring after the danger of frost has passed.

Plant the thyme by crawling 8-12cm apart to allow its habitat to spread.

Prune the creeping thyme in spring to maintain a compact appearance and again after the small white flowers have worn off if an extra shape is preferred.

100 grams of dried thyme they bring to our body about 276 kcal. It may seem like a lot but obviously this aromatic herb is usually consumed in small doses and therefore does not greatly affect the total calories of the dishes in which we use it.

From the point of view of natural health care, thyme is mainly used in the form of syrup and infusion, to be used in case of respiratory tract diseases, coughs and colds. Thyme essential oil can be used in case of stuffy nose to carry out fumigations with boiling water, in order to help decongest and free the respiratory tract.

L'infusion of thyme it is particularly suitable for solving problems of intestinal swelling and aerophagia due to poor digestion. The thyme infusion is also used in the preparation of a natural mouthwash suitable for rinsing and gargling, to be carried out in case of bad breath or sore throat. Thyme is a disinfectant and natural antibacterial which helps to fight the germs that can cause such ailments. Other uses of thyme infusion include its use in foot baths, in order to relieve the feeling of tiredness and fatigue that may occur at the end of the day in the lower limbs. Cold thyme infusion is also an excellent remedy to use as a last rinse in case of weak hair, to reinforce them.

The use of thyme in cooking, as a spice to be used for seasoning dishes and for the preparation of soups, allows you to protect your body in a natural way from colds typical of winter and can help stimulate the proper functioning of ours immune system. For the preparation of infusions or decoctions based on thyme they are usually used 5 grams of the same for every 100 grams of water.

In the kitchen, adding thyme during cooking or as a condiment for legumes can help facilitate digestion of the same and to allow that intestinal swelling problems do not appear. A thyme jar placed on the windowsill, on the balcony or in the kitchen allows you to naturally ward off insects.

In summary thyme in the form of syrup or infusion can be used for:

  • cough
  • cold
  • stuffy nose
  • intestinal swelling
  • mouthwash
  • tired feet
  • weak hair
  • stimulate the immune system

How to Grow Thyme

This article was co-written by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has worked with educational gardens and zero-mile school delivery programs since 2008. He is currently a Program Representative at Winrock International, where he works on the Community Based Food Systems Team.

There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Thyme is an ancient herb used in cooking and gardening. It produces aromatic, pleasing foliage and grows well in almost any climate. In cold areas it is a hardy evergreen, able to survive the winter and live for many years. In the hot ones, however, it is often cultivated as an annual plant, since it does not survive very hot summers. In addition to culinary purposes, many gardeners use this herb as a ground cover or as a plant to mark boundaries. It produces tiny flowers, usually white, pink or lavender, and their fragrance can attract bees to your garden. Thyme is easy to plant and grow and can be harvested all year round.


Now that we have seen how to grow thyme, let's see how it is harvested and how it must be stored. Thyme is an evergreen plant: the collection of leaves and twigs to be consumed fresh can be done at any time. It is good avoid removing more than 30% of twigs from each single plant for each crop. If, on the other hand, you want to preserve the leaves, it is advisable to collect them before flowering. They can be dried or frozen for a maximum period of 6 months.

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Video: A Guide to Thyme