Scientifically checked

Thyme

By Alyssa Morlacci
Updated on 14. Sep. 2020

If you use thyme as a seasoning, the aromatic herb has numerous health benefits beyond its flavorful culinary perks.

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Thyme...

  • ...relieves cramps. Thyme has been known for centuries as an effective remedy for stomach cramps.
  • ...has an anti-inflammatory effect. Essential oils, tannins and bitter substances in thyme help sore throats, as they can fight bacteria and viruses, and inhibit inflammation. Gargling with tea or infusion of thyme is a household remedy, which also helps gum inflammation and bad breath.
  • ...promotes digestion. The thymol, other essential oils and secondary plant substances in thyme stimulate the formation of digestive juices in the stomach, bile and liver.
  • ...is especially useful as a tea. If you want to relieve discomfort, it's best to make a tea with thyme. Brew 1 teaspoon of thyme with 180 milliliters of boiling water, let it steep for 5 minutes, pass it through a sieve and drink it two to three times a day.
  • ...contains essential oils. The essential oils of thyme are responsible for the aroma, taste and healing properties. The effective oil thymol is especially abundant in the small leaves.
  • ...supports the respiratory tract. Thyme is considered a remedy for coughs of all kinds. A tea made from thyme helps with acute and chronic coughs, but it has also been proven to calm more serious diseases like asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough.
  • ...can be an irritant. Despite all the positive properties of thyme, if you drink more than 3 cups of tea or if you drink the tea regularly over a longer period of time, irritation, and stomach and intestines disorders can occur.

What You Should Know About Thyme

The scent, taste and healing properties of thyme were popular with the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The ancient Romans even loved the herb so much that they brought it with them through the Alps to the conquered countries. In the Middle Ages, it was monks who liked to cultivate thyme in the gardens of their monasteries.

Depending on the weather, the herb not only thrives in a garden, but also on a balcony or terrace. However, if the summer is cool and rainy, thyme has to be grown in a greenhouse. Like all herbs, thyme is also available dried, though it will lose its aroma.

Origin

Thyme comes from the rocky coasts in the countries around the Mediterranean. Today, the largest cultivation areas are in Spain, Italy, southern France and Bulgaria.

Season

Generally, thyme is considered a summer herb because it grows and thrives most abundantly from June to September. These are also the main harvest months.

Taste

Spicy yet slightly sweet and extremely aromatic. Thyme is reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine.

Here you can find all thyme recipes.

How Healthy Is Thyme?

Thyme's essential oils, such as above all thymol and secondary plant substances, stimulate the formation of digestive juices in the stomach, bile and liver. Thyme also has an expectorant and antispasmodic effect on coughs and bronchitis.

Incorrectly harvested or poorly dried thyme has fewer aromatic and active ingredients than fresh thyme. Despite all the positive properties of thyme, if you drink more than three cups of tea or drink the tea regularly over a longer period of time, irritation and disturbances of the stomach and intestines can occur.

Nutritional values of thyme per 100 grams  
Calories 52
Protein 1.48 grams
Fat 1.2 grams
Carbohydrates 7.35 grams
Fiber 3 grams

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

Even during high season in summer, fresh thyme is almost exclusively available in pots. The good news is that you're then able to enjoy it for longer; with good care you can harvest thyme for several weeks. Buy dried thyme from renowned companies or organic growers only. The raw material will be tested for active ingredient contents and packed in such a way that the ingredients will be well preserved.

Storage

You can either plant thyme directly in a garden or keep it on a balcony or windowsill. I you keep it in a room, you must allow it at least five hours of direct sunlight every day because thyme likes warm temperatures and sunlight. It needs little water, so water sparingly.

Preparation

If you pick thyme from your own garden, balcony or windowsill, you don't need to wash it. Rinse it briefly, shake it dry, pluck the leaves and, depending on your recipe, chop it even finer.

What To Make With Thyme

Thyme is one of the basic ingredients of all Provençal and Italian herb mixtures: The herb is simply indispensable for numerous  Mediterranean dishes and southern cuisines.

Italians in particular like to season with thyme, often because it harmonises well with their favourite ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, olives and wine. Typically, thyme is also used for tomato sauces, stews with poultry, fish dishes, vegetable soups and dishes made from auberhines and zucchini.

But thyme goes just as well with Nordic delicacies such as lard, pea soup, stews, sausages, and much more.

Scientifically checked by our EAT SMARTER experts
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