Thyme, botanically known as Thymus vulgaris, is a perennial garden herb that has been employed since ancient times for medicinal and culinary uses. Thyme has traditionally been associated with courage, with medieval women giving sprigs of thyme to knights going into battle; it has also been used as an herbal remedy for a host of ailments. Thyme tea, rich in volatile oils, minerals, beneficial phenols and flavonoids, is a healthy beverage choice.
A cup of thyme tea has a lot more to offer than its pleasant taste; thymol, one of the volatile oils in thyme, is a potent antioxidant. According to The World's Healthiest Foods, thymol may help to increase omega-3 fatty acids, or healthy fats, in brain cells. In a clinical study conducted by K.A. Youdim and colleagues and published in the April 19, 1999 issue of "Biochemical and Biophysical Research," researchers found that thyme oil helped to protect against age-related changes in the brain cells of rats. Studies are ongoing to determine whether thyme can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. In addition to thymol, thyme tea contains the antioxidant flavonoids apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin.
The next time you have a cold or cough, try a cup of thyme tea. The University of Maryland Medical Center says it can help treat bronchitis and relieve coughs, and states that thyme has been approved for this use by the German Commission E, which evaluates safety and efficacy of herbal preparations in Germany. Drugs.com concurs, saying that extracts from thyme have shown relaxant and bronchodilatory effects.
Thyme tea is often recommended by herbal healers to promote good digestion and relieve gas and bloating. According to "Aromatherapy for Professionals," by herbalists Shirley and Len Price, the volatile oils in thyme give it carminative --or gas-reducing-- properties, while its phenols allow it to work as an antispasmodic, helping to relieve intestinal cramping.
Provides Essential Minerals
When you think of a food rich in iron, thyme is probably not the first thing to come to mind. But 2 tsp of dried thyme --about the amount used in a cup of thyme tea-- delivers 3.56 mg, or 19.8 percent of the recommended daily value of iron. Thyme tea is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vital to normal blood clotting, with 2 tsp supplying 48.01 mcg, or 60 percent of the DV. Thyme tea is also a very good source of manganese, supplying 12 percent of the DV, and calcium, providing 5.4 of the DV in 2 tsp.
- Georgetown University Medical Center: Urban Herbs: Thyme
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cough
- Drugs.com: Complete Thyme Information
- "Aromatherapy for Health Professionals"; Shirley Price and Len Price; 2007
- "Biochemical and Biophysical Research", Thyme Oil, K.A. Youdim, April 19, 1999