Thyme, aroma, flavor and well-being in a plant
A rustic plant that has found its place in the gardens and balconies of Mediterranean countries for its ease of cultivation, its aromatic properties and its many benefits for the body and mind.
Thyme: botanical anatomy
The genus Thymus belongs to the Lamiaceae family and includes about 350 species, including the one of interest for its therapeutic and aromatic properties, Thymus vulgaris.
Thyme is a small evergreen aromatic shrub that grows very slowly reaching a maximum of 50 cm. It has a woody branched stem in the lower part that forms very compact bushes. The leaves, in almost all the species, are small and elongated with a color ranging from intense green to silvery gray, covered with a thick down.
Its flowers are of a pale white color that tends to pink and their pollination is entomophilic, that is, it occurs thanks to the transport of pollen grains by insects and in this specific case it is mainly the work of bees. Its flowering period begins in spring and continues throughout the summer. The best time for its harvest, which is still largely done by hand today, is just before flowering. Unlike many other aromatic herbs, drying thyme in the field under the sun is not recommended, as it causes a decrease in quality, which is why hot air dryers are generally used.
Thyme: origin and habitat
Thyme is native to central and southern Europe, territories where it still grows spontaneously everywhere, adapting to any environment. In fact, It is not a particularly demanding plant: it does not fear drought and grows in any type of soil even if it prefers light, calcareous, drained and sunny fields.
In Italy it can be found mainly in the areas near the Mediterranean sea but you can spot it only in mountainous ones. In our country, we have several species known with nicknames such as the Pepolino from Tuscany and the Barona herb in Sardinia.
Thyme: properties and benefits
Thyme’s powers are linked to the presence of a particular substance: thymol, one of the most powerful natural antibiotics with antiseptic, antibacterial and antispasmodic properties.
The plant and its essential oil stimulate the immune system and are indicated for the prevention and treatment of colds, bronchitis, coughs, tonsillitis, abscesses, pain and joint tension. In aromatherapy it is known as a cure-all not only for the body but also for the mind, because it helps to relax, giving comfort and relief. That’s why we chose it for our Remedium n.6 – Relax, the infusion that helps you slow down. To be enjoyed during a break from work or before dinner, it is the herbal tea that will finally allow you to ‘seize the moment’.
Thyme: how to use it
Thyme is an extremely versatile plant. It is very popular in the kitchen to season meats, fish, vegetables or to give flavor liqueurs. In addition, of course, to the classic decoctions and herbal teas. Did you know, some people even use it instead of coffee!
And if you look closely on the labels of bathroom products, it turns out that it is also widely used for beauty and body care products. It can be found in face creams for a toning effect, in preparations for foot baths to obtain a relaxing action and in shampoos to restore the skin’s sebum level to normal.
Thyme: fun facts
- In Middle Eastern countries, thyme is an essential element for zaatar and dukkah, herbal blends used on meat and bread that include coriander, cumin, pepper and sesame.
- Thanks to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, thyme was used in ancient Egypt for the embalming process and preparation of mummies.
- Castore Durante, physician, botanist and poet of the Renaissance, writes in his Herbario Nuovo that thyme cooked in wine was used to treat infections, relieve asthmatic crises and heal poisoning.
- Andrea Papini & Valentina Baronti, L’arte di mangiare selvatico. L’uso delle erbe spontanee nella tradizione popolare. Sarnus, 2022
- Adriana Bonavia Giorgetti, L’arte di coltivare l’orto e se stessi. Ponte alle grazie, 2015
- Andrea Pieroni & Barbara Torresan, Atlante gastronomico delle erbe. Slow Food, 2017