Thyme - Beneficial Herb for Digestion


Thymus vulgaris Lamiaceae

A low-lying, perennial shrub, common thyme grows wild on arid hillsides across the Mediterranean. This rugged plant was a symbol of courage to the ancient Greeks and in medieval Europe. Tiny, grayish green leaves, their edges curling inwards, coat the numerous wiry branches if the erect, woody stems. From May until August, spikes if small, white or pink flowers appear. The warm pungent taste and rich aroma if the leaves, make them a popular flavouring in a wide range if dishes and cuisines.


  • To date, common thyme has shown no adverse side effects, but excessive use is not advisable.
  • Use the plant spraringly when pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The essential oil should be used only under a doctor's supervision.

Parts used

  • Leaves and flower stalks
  • The leaves and flowers stalks are gathered at the beginning of the flowering season and dried carefully away from sunlight.
  • The dried thyme is used to prepare infusions, powders for capsules and in pharmaceutical products, such as soothing cough syrups.
  • An essential oil is also extracted from the dried leaves and flower stalks. This is used in antiseptic creams and ointments. A related plant, Spanish thyme (Thymus zygis), is also used for the antiseptic power of its essential oil.


The dried leaves and flower stalks of common thyme contain flavonoids and 0.5 to 2 per cent essential oil. The composition of the essential oil varies; thymol, methylchavicol, cineole and borneol are all present.


For internal use

TO TREAT sluggish digestion, bloating, belching, flatulence, inadequate bile flow, coughs INFUSION Put 2g of dried plant into a cup of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse for

5 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day. CAPSULES (325mg) Take 3 a day, with a large glass of water.

For external use

TO TREAT wounds, aching muscles
INFUSION (see above) Use to wash affected areas, several times a day.
OINTMENT Apply to affected areas, several times a day.


Medicinal uses

Research has shown that the flavonoids in thyme - methylchavicol and thymol - have a muscle relaxing effect. As a result the plant is widely used as an antispasmodic to treat digestive problems, such as bloating, belching, flatulence, sluggish digestion and poor bile flow. Thyme is also effective for soothing coughs and can help to relieve nasal congestion due to colds, hayfever and asthma.

Studies have demonstrated that thyme's essential oil is antiseptic, and it is often recommended for minor cuts and wounds, as well as for insect bites and stings. The plant is also sometimes prescribed to treat gum disease and tonsillitis.


Grow from seed, sown in early April, or summer cuttings. A warm, sunny plot with rich, dry, light soil is ideal.


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