Thyme is an evergreen shrub that has been used in medicinal and culinary applications for thousands of years. Thyme is native to theregion and certain parts of Africa, and its use dates back to the Egyptian empire.
Thymol is the most active ingredient found in thyme. This organic compound has a wide range of effects on the body, including its ability to prevent fungal and viral infections and reducing strain on the immune system. This is according to a 2007 report published in the Journal of Food Safety.
One of the most well-known and long-standing uses of thyme in traditional medicine is as a respiratory agent. If you are suffering from bronchitis, chronic asthma, congestion, colds, flu, blocked sinuses or seasonal allergies, thyme acts as anand an anti- substance. It eliminates phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tracts, eases inflammation to help breath, and prevents microbial development that can lead to illness.
In fact, a study conducted in Spain showed that thyme extract oils have anti-inflammatory effects. That’s why brewing thyme into a powerful tea is one of the best ways to achieve relief from respiratory ailments.
With one of the highestin any herb, thyme has been used for thousands of years as an overall health booster. The antioxidants found in thyme, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and thymonin, contribute to neutralizing and eliminating free radicals throughout the body, according to a Korea Food Research Institute study. Free radicals are the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that can do major damage to your healthy cells by causing cell death or spontaneous mutation. These antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress present in your organs, as well as your neural pathways, heart, eyes, and skin.
The high concentration of iron and other essential minerals in thyme make it ideal for stimulating the production of red blood cells, thereby boosting bloodand oxygenation to the essential organ systems of the body. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 grams of fresh thyme contains 17.45 mg, almost 20% of the recommended daily value of iron.
The rich blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in thyme have many small effects on the heart, but potassium and manganese are particularly important. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce the stress on thesystem by relaxing blood vessels and lowering .
A study in the UK found that laboratory rats whose diets were supplemented with thyme oil showed a stronger activity level and higher antioxidant levels during their lifespan. This can extend your life by preventing plaque build up in your arteries and avoiding strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart diseases.
The concentration of carotenoids and vitamin A found in thyme make it an effective antioxidant agent for your vision health. Carotenoids can neutralize the free radicals in your ocular system and slow the onset of macular degeneration and prevent cataracts.
The high levels of vitamin C found in thyme makes it a natural immune system booster. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the first line of defense in the body’s immune system. Vitamin C also plays a crucial part in the production of collagen, which is essential for the creation and repair of cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.
One of the vitamins in thyme (B6) has a powerful effect on certainin the brain that are directly linked to stress hormones. Regular inclusion of thyme in your diet can help to boost your mood.
For those with a sensitive stomach, high intake of thyme can causedistress. Having said that, this herb is not known as an allergenic substance and can be consumed regularly in your diet.
How to Buy
Fresh, dried, and powdered thyme are readily available year-round in most markets. If you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own, keep in mind that thyme leaves are sweetest if picked just as the flowers appear.
How to Store
Store fresh thyme wrapped in a tea towel or a breathable bag. I like Ambrosia Flax-Linen bags. Keep thyme in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator or stand sprigs in a glass of water on the refrigerator shelf.
If you can grow thyme, when it is time to harvest, hang bundles of sprigs upside-down in a warm, dry, airy location for about ten days. Dried thyme can be stored in a cool, dark place, in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
How to Cook
The stems and the leaves of thyme can be used in various dishes, either in whole or dried form. It is usually added to soups and sauces and is used as a flavorful garnish. The leaves can be removed from the stems and ground into a fine spice, or the entire sprig can be added to flavor a larger dish or stew. They can also be brewed into a tea and a decoction can be made with carrier oils or creams to apply topically to the body
When cooking with thyme, be aware that one fresh sprig equals the flavoring power of one-half teaspoon of dried thyme.
To remove the leaves off the stem, place between the tines of a fork and pull the stem in the opposite direction of the leaf growth.
I also use a stem stripper from Chef’n for kale, chard, collard greens and herbs.