Thyme

Thyme

ThymeThyme is known for being a fragrant herb. It is mostly added to meats, soups and sautéed vegetables to add some extra flavor. The herb is not only easy to grow, but also adds extra fragrance to some of the easiest dishes. This article will address the history of the herb, as well as outline some of the health benefits it provides. Also, the article will describe how you can grow thyme at home.

Description

The herb thyme belongs to the mint family of plants. The herb is a small herb which consists of small pink, white or lilac flowers. Currently, there are over 350 different species of thyme in the world. This is due to the fact that the plant hybridizes easily. The herb comes in different sizes and colors. For example, the plant can be either low-growing or it can be very bushy. The color of the herb can also vary, namely from pale green shades to deep green colors. There are also multiple thyme species which have a silver or more of a bronze shade to them. While most people refer to the herb as thyme, various species of thyme have different names. Some of the species are called Rainbow Falls or Archer’s Gold. The scent of the herb can be described to be a combination of lemon, camphor, pine and eucalyptus. The most common types of thyme are thyme vulgaris and thyme citriodurus. These types are most commonly used for cooking. When used for cooking, most people use fresh or dried thyme. The leaves and flowers of the herb add a unique essence to stews, soups and casseroles. The herb is most commonly used in the French kitchen. It is often combined with bay leaves and parsley to season stocks and stews. Thyme zygis and thyme serpyllum are often used for medicinal purposes. Some of the health benefits which thyme provides will be addressed later on in this article. The herb is native to southern Europe and western Asia. However, nowadays the herb is cultivated commercially in many parts of the world.

History

Thyme has been used for many years. The herb has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times. During the time of ancient Egypt, the herb was used by Egyptians as an embalming agents. It was used as a means of preserving the deceased pharaohs. In Greece, the herb was used for another purpose, namely for its aromatic properties. Due to the unique scent of the herb, ancient Greeks burned thyme as incense in sacred temples. During this period of time thyme was also used as a symbol of admiration and courage. The phrase “the smell of thyme” would be used to describe someone who reflected praise. The association of the herb with bravery continued for many centuries. For example, during the medieval times, women would give knights a scarf over which a sprig of thyme was placed. The 16th century was the first time thyme oil was used for various purposes. Due to the antiseptic properties of the herb, the herb was commonly used as mouthwash. The use of thyme oil will be explored later on in this article.

Health benefits

Thyme has various health benefits. Some of the most common uses of thyme for its medical properties are the use of the herb as an ointment to fight infections in cuts, as mouthwash against throat infections or sachets that can repel moths. The herb has been proven to be particularly helpful in fighting upper respiratory tract problems, such as bronchitis. In her book A Modern Herbal, Maud Grieve explains how you can make your own medicine against coughs. The states that you should mix pestle, mortar, thyme and honey to make your home-made remedy against coughs. Thyme is also a great source of vitamins and minerals. It is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, riboflavin, manganese, iron and zinc. Thyme also contains certain volatile oils which play an important role in our bodies. For example, volatile oils such as geraniol, borneol and carvacolo provide antibacterial properties which help the body to fight against different fungi and bacteria in the body. Thyme also contains thymol. Various studies have examined the effect of thymol on the body. It has been proven that thymol has the ability to increase healthy fats throughout cells in the body. Moreover, thymol also contributes to increasing omega-3 fatty acids in cell membranes of the brain, heart and kidney. The combination of thymol, vitamins and minerals is also said to play a role in the prevention of cancer. However, in order for this to be confirmed further research needs to be conducted.


Thyme oil

Thyme oil has been used for many years, and for different purposes. It has been said to contribute to the healing process of wounds. Nowadays, thyme oil is often used for massages or the product is added to cosmetic products. A study conducted by scientist from the University of Brighton examined the role of thyme oil and its ability to kill MRSA. Scientists concluded that thyme oil has the ability to destroy MRSA within a period of two hours, without causing any harm to the skin. MRSA is often carried in the nostrils or on the skin of healthy people. However, when an individual carrier enters a hospital for a procedure which involves puncturing the skin, the bacteria could enter the body. Once the bacteria enters the body it can cause serious medical problems. MRSA kills up to 5,000 people each year. The complete results of this study can be found in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics. Moreover, researchers from the Leeds Metropolitan University have recommended using thyme oil against acne. They stated that thyme oil is more effective compared to creams which are prescribed by health practitioners. While prescription creams are also effective in treating acne, many creams are not based on natural products which could cause irritation of the skin.

How to grow thyme

It is incredibly easy to grow thyme in your own garden. It is an easy process, since thyme does not only need little watering but it can also be grown in inside in a container as well as outside in the garden. Moreover, thyme thrives in hot conditions and loves to be in the full sun. However, similar to mint, it can be a bit difficult to grow thyme from seed. Most people who grow thyme at home start from either propagating from cuttings or by layering. There are various propagation methods one can pick from. When starting to grow thyme, make sure you start around spring since that it the best time for the herb to grow. Ideally, you should start when temperatures have reached over 20 degreed. When planting thyme, make sure you plant it in well-drained soil. The optimal pH level would be between 6.0 and 8.0. If you decide to plant thyme during early spring, it is possible to fertilize with organic matter. However, in order for thyme to grow, not much soil is necessary. When growing thyme inside, make sure you place the container close to a window so the herb can receive full sun. Moreover, most thyme species are resistant against drought. Thus, it is not necessary to give it a lot of water. A bit of water is enough when the soil is completely dry. Also, make sure that when you space thyme in your garden to space it accordingly. It is recommended to plant the herb around 30 centimeters apart from each other. Furthermore, when planting thyme it is easy to grow it together with other plants which have similar watering needs. For example, plants such as mint and rosemary also need little watering. When planting thyme in your garden, plant it together with broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries and Brussels sprouts.

How to select and store

Most supermarkets sell thyme. The herb can be purchased dried  as well as fresh. However, fresh thyme is not as common as dried thyme since the fresh herb is not grown in each country. Whenever it is sold in the supermarket, it is recommended to use fresh thyme instead of the dried form. This is due to the fact that fresh thyme is superior in flavor. When buying fresh thyme, pay attention to the fact that the leaves of the herb look fresh and have a vibrant green-gray color. Also, the herb should also be free from any dark spots and should not start yellowing. If the supermarket does not sell fresh thyme, it is also worth paying a visit to the local spice store. These stores usually have a more expansive collection of fresh herbs and they are usually more fresh compared to the herbs offered in supermarkets. When possible, it is also recommended to buy fresh thyme which is locally grown and organic. This will also give you more assurance that the herb has not been irradiated or has been exposed to pesticides. When storing thyme, it is recommended to keep it in the refrigerator. Wrap it in a paper towel which is slightly damp. Dried thyme can be stored in a glass container. It is important that the glass container is tightly sealed. Also, make sure that the container is stored in a cool and dry place. When stored properly, it can be stored up to six months.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1961x
Added: 20-12-2016 22:17
Last modified: 04-01-2017 13:14

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