Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daily Herb-o-Scope - It's Time for Thyme

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is another great culinary star in the realm of medicinal herbs. Derived from the Greek word "thumus" meaning "courage," its flavor is pungent and mildly bitter and it is warm and dry. Like some of the other herbs I have discussed this week,  thyme helps to warm and dry issues of the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems; however, unlike other common garden herbs, thyme also has a restorative quality to it that helps to tonify qi and relieve fatigue. But lets first talk about its warming and drying effect.

Thyme is very effective when dealing with issues of the respiratory system. It can resolve lung phlegm cold which consists of a full productive cough with thin white sputum . Many of thyme's constituents help with issues of respiration including being a bronchodilator, an antitussive, an expectorant and an anti-infective. These actions make thyme particularly helpful with treating conditions of whooping cough, asthma and sinus issues. It is also great at relieving wind cold aka colds and flus causing sore muscles and aches, sneezing, fatigue, chills and a sore throat. For these respiratory issues, thyme makes a great and tasty addition to any cough syrup.

In regards to the digestive system, thyme helps to warm conditions of Spleen damp-cold and its bitter quality helps to decongest the liver, releasing bile and breaking down fatty foods. This symptology includes indigestion, nausea, gas, stomach pain, a loss of appetite and diarrhea. The oils from thyme are also wonderful at killing off stomach bugs, including food borne pathogens, intestinal parasites and helping with intestinal dysbiosis.

Cold in the reproductive system can cause delayed, slow or stopped periods with cramps, sexual disinterest and impotence. Thyme helps to stimulate this area and help move things along. It also helps to dry damp in this are that might present as white vaginal discharge and scanty periods.

But perhaps the most valuable quality that thyme has to offer is its ability to build energy and Qi, relieving fatigue. It also helps to build immunity. Holmes describes thyme's ability to alleviate fatigue especially valuable when there is an underlying issue of nervous weakness and long standing infection.

Thyme makes a very tasty mouth gargle for a sore throat, tooth decay, tonsillitis and mouth sores and thyme infused baths are very helpful in cases of arthritis and sore muscles especially when the aches and pains are the result of colds and flus.

Because it is a uterine stimulant, avoid therapeutic doses during pregnancy. For an infusion, soak 1 tablespoon of fresh herb or 1 teaspoon of dried herb in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Enjoy one cup of tea, three times a day. Holmes suggests a tincture of 2-4ml (1:3 in 50% alcohol).

Overall, thyme is another wonderful garden herb, helping to warm cold issues and dry damp. But it is perhaps one of the most under appreciated Qi tonics. So readily available in gardens, supermarkets and pantries everywhere, don't waste your time by not taking advantage of thyme.

Duke, J. A. (2000). The green pharmacy herbal handbook: your comprehensive reference to the best herbs for healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Reach.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Holmes, P. (2007) The energetics of western herbs: a materia medica integrating Western and Chinese herbal therapeutics (Rev. & enl. 4th ed.). Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press.

Levy, J. d. ( 1997). Common herbs for natural health (Rev, expanded ed.) Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Pub.

Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide for natural medicine. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications.

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