Herb of the Month: Thyme
More than just a flavour for your pasta sauce, thyme is a robust herb available almost year around, offering many healing properties. Be sure to continue to add thyme to your soups, stews and sauces, as food is medicine! Thyme has wonderful properties to keep our bodies healthy during the cold, cough and flu season.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, flourishes in the garden and is also found in many wild places in Ireland. It is believed that the medicine we need is literally outside our back door and thyme is no exception. Once you start noticing, you will see it all around you, beckoning to be harvested and used. Please do!
This unassuming herb offers a powerhouse of antiviral, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Many herbs have antibacterial constituents although thyme is singular in its high antiviral content. This makes it good for coughs and colds that are virus-based, including strep throat. It soothes dry, unproductive coughs and gently activates the immune response. Thyme eases nausea and digestive upset and is useful in helping to eliminate the virus which may be causing acute vomiting or diarrhea.
A few ways to work with thyme:
- Make a cup of thyme tea... delicious! Add honey to ease an irritating cough. Add whiskey or lemon for cold or flu.
- Steam, by adding one to two tablespoons of thyme to a pot of water off the boil, place a towel over your head over the pot and breathe in the thyme steam. This is great to ease congestion and to get the benefits of the thyme deeper into the body.
- Thyme-infused honey. Spread over your toast or eat a spoonful. Food is medicine (recipe below)!
Thyme is one of the fairies' favourite herbs and you often see thyme covering fairy mounds and around ancient sacred sites. Plant thyme in your garden to bring in a bit of fairy light and healing.
Wild marjoram, a hedgerow and meadow herb with light purple to dark burgundy flowers, is blooming right now and has many similar properties as thyme so use this as a wildly available substitute. As with thyme, the leaves and flowers are the healthful parts.
- Use 1 part dried thyme to 2 parts honey (local, raw is best as it has healing properties of its own).
- Heat gently in a double boiler (or create your own by bringing a pot of water to the boil, turning off the heat and placing a smaller pan with the honey and thyme in the hot water bath).
- Repeat this process a few times, stirring often. Ensure no water gets splashed into the honey. It is important not to place honey on direct heat as the extreme heat will affect the healing properties of both the honey and the thyme.
- Collect some re-used honey or jam jars. Strain the thyme out of the honey and bottle. Ensure the honey is completely cooled before lidding.
Thyme-infused honey makes a delicious medicine (eat it by the spoonful or add to hot water). It is also wonderful over goat’s cheese, as a bruschetta topping with butter or cream cheese or as a marinade over chicken.
The holidays are quickly approaching and infused honeys make a luscious gift.
Article kindly written by Herbalist (BS, MBA) Tonja Reichley whose website can be found at www.dancingwiththewild.com