Rudyard Kipling wrote of the "wind-bit thyme that smells like the perfume of the dawn in paradise." Ancient Greeks complimented each other as "smelling like thymbra"; their word thymain meant "to burn as incense," and thymiatechny described the "art of using perfumes as medicine." The compound thymol is still used in gargles such as Listerine, in cough drops and in vapor rubs. There are at least a hundred varieties (or double that if you count the cultivars.)
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Extraction: Distilled from leaves. Absolute. The scent is strong, herbaceous, sweet and medicinal.
Medicinal Action: Thyme is a strong antibacterial for mouth infections. It relieves lung congestion, treats candida and indigestion, and destroys intestinal hookworms and roundworms. It is used in a heating liniment, and was once a specific remedy for whooping cough.
Emotional Attribute: Thyme relieves mental instability, melancholy and nightmares, and prevents memory loss and inefficiency.
Thymus vulgaris has many chemotypes:
Geraniol Type --This gentle antiseptic treats vaginitis, cystitis, acne, eczema and earache. It is a uterine and cardiac tonic with mildness comparable to linalol.
Linalol Type --This is a nontoxic antiseptic useful in the treatment of candida, bronchitis, acne, nervous fatigue, psoriasis, urinary tract infections and prostate problems. Linalol is nonirritating, so it is gentle enough for children and skin care.
Red Thyme (T. vulgaris) --This is oil that hasn't been redistilled, so it retains a deep red color. Hotter and more irritating than distilled thyme, it is a strong infection fighter and circulatory stimulant.
Thymol Type --Stimulating and very antibacterial, this thyme is also irritating to skin and mucous membranes.
Thuyanol Type --This type is high in thuyanol and terpenes, but low in the more toxic phenols. A nonirritating antiseptic, it treats viral infections, and French research shows it effective against chlamydia, condyloma and many female infections.
White Thyme (T. vulgaris) --This has been redistilled, yielding a clear oil. It is somewhat less irritating and potent than "red thyme" oil.
Moroccan Thyme (T. satureioides) --Sometimes referred to as "sweet thyme," this species contains 70-80 percent borneal, an immune-supporting alcohol. It is a digestive stimulant, settles the nerves, and is used to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Spanish Marjoram (T. mastichina) --See "Marjoram."
Spanish Oregano (T. capitatus)-See "Marjoram."