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Thyme - A Popular Traditional Herb

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Read the article to know the benefits, culinary use, and contraindications of the globally popular traditional herb -Thyme.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vidyullatha. H. N

Published At December 30, 2022
Reviewed AtDecember 30, 2022

Thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris, is a popular flavored herb. It can be used commonly in flavoring different vegetable delicacies, meat, and sea foods. Thyme is a member of the mint or the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family. The history of thyme usage globally dates back centuries. It was first introduced into the culinary and medical world by the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians. Many people use this herb as a common home remedy in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Halitosis or bad breath.

  • Sore throat and throat infections.

  • To treat colic pain in infants.

  • Autoimmune arthritis (a type of joint inflammation).

  • Relieving indigestion and diarrhea.

  • Treating atopic dermatitis (itchy, dry, and inflamed skin) and other skin-related diseases.

  • Parasitic infections.

  • Laryngitis and Tonsillitis (inflammation of the larynx and tonsils)

What Are the Nutrition Contents of Thyme?

It would be surprising to know that thyme does not contain any calories; a single serving of thyme (approximately two tablespoons of the fresh herb or around one teaspoon of the dried herb) would be less than a calorie. The reason is that thyme is primarily composed of fiber. Thyme consumption would yield small amounts of vitamins A, C, magnesium, and potassium, which is negligible.

What Are the Varieties of Thyme?

Some of the varieties of thyme include; lemon thyme, narrow-leaf French thyme, and broad-leaf English thyme. The variety usually seen in the market is the greenish and leafy variety; it is called Thymus vulgaris or common thyme. The cultivation of the thyme is generally during the spring season in the drained soil. The advantage of growing thyme globally is that cultivation is possible even during drought.

How Can Thyme Be Stored?

The produce section of the market is where we can find fresh thyme; it is seen as woody and tall stalks with green or greyish-hued leaves. Thyme with a green or grey vibrancy must be selected, not wilted ones. Edible thyme is the one that contains visible flowers. Thyme can be wrapped in a paper towel, or the thyme bundles can be placed in plastic bags for refrigeration, which may help it to stay fresh for up to a week or more. Before using thyme in cooking, the leaves must be washed thoroughly.

What Are the Benefits of Thyme?

  • The use of thyme and several other herbs is evident in ancient or traditional medicine. It is believed to prevent or treat upper respiratory tract infections, common cold, cough, and relieve bronchitis symptoms.

  • Several clinical studies have shown that the topical application of hair oils in which thyme is an essential ingredient has resulted in better hair growth. For example, lavender oil, which is topically applied with essential oils from thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood, is a great therapy for hair growth.

  • Thyme is an essential part of aromatherapy because of its ability to induce anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing effects. According to the 2014 Journal of Acute Disease, studies focus on the anti-anxiety or stress-relieving effects of thyme on general health.

  • Thymol, an essential component of thyme, is known to prevent potent bacterial and fungal infections in humans. Research has demonstrated the use of thyme against secondary bacterial infections like Staphylococcus aureus.

  • Thyme is also used in managing chronic atopic dermatitis because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.

What Are Some Culinary Uses of Thyme?

  • It is always important to separate the thyme leaves from the stems by running the fingers down the stem to use it for cooking.

  • Thyme has a typical pine flavor, a popular part of several seasoning blends or flavoring agents.

  • Thyme is associated with several flavors based on its availability in several countries, such as bitter, floral, and herbaceous flavors.

  • Thyme can be used for flavoring over both vegan and non-vegan dishes because of its earthy herbal flavors. It is used in sauces and dressings for pizzas, soups, and garnish over roasted vegetables.

  • It is commonly used to give a herbal twist to pasta or Italian dishes and in flavoring fish and poultry dishes.

  • Thyme teas are also quite popularized recently because of the fragrant herbal flavors that help relax the mind.

  • Thyme can also be used over bread, potatoes, and rice and as a flavoring agent for vegetables.

Who Should Refrain From Consuming Thyme?

  • People taking certain medications like acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors and anticholinergic drugs and those on regular anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, or estrogen therapy must consult their healthcare providers before incorporating thyme into their diets. The reason is that thyme may interfere with certain medications and cause excessive bleeding or bruising when used in high amounts, especially by people with bleeding disorders.

  • Thyme oil or supplements must be avoided during pregnancy because of the similar effects of thymol compared to estrogen. Thymol can influence menstruation and may cause miscarriage, so it should be avoided. However, nutritionists do not consider any risk of using thyme in cooking, even during pregnancy, but ideally, thyme-based oils can be avoided.

  • People suffering from endocrinal or hormone disorders also should not consume thyme or consult their nutritionist or healthcare provider before including it in the diet.

  • Individuals prone to or suffering from cancers like breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer or women with endometriosis or uterine fibroids should be cautious and refrain from using thyme.

  • According to physicians and surgeons, thyme consumption must be avoided at least one to two weeks before major surgeries.

  • Individuals with allergies to oregano or Lamiaceae family herbs can also potentially suffer from thyme allergy, hence must consider avoiding it.


Thyme is a popular herb used in treating respiratory tract infections, and as it is very flavourful, it can be used in cooking as a seasoning agent. Thyme oil is also an essential oil used in aromatherapy and hair therapy. However, pregnant females and individuals with herb allergies can avoid using Thyme. Individuals with no history of underlying systemic diseases or not on systemic medications can safely use thyme in their diet because of its health benefits.

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Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop



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