Take your thyme.
Thyme really is a 'wonder-herb' that we can all grow in our gardens or on our windowsills. Native to Europe and particularly the Mediterranean regions, the fist recorded uses of thyme date back to over 3000 years both in a culinary sense and medicinally.
I have recently rediscovered the joys of using thyme in cooking, it's just one of those herbs that didn't always spring to mind...until I started growing it on the kitchen windowsill, and now it goes in almost everything, the aroma is fantastic and the flavour, enriching. It goes with chicken, fish and meat equally well and is one of the herbs in a bouquet garni along with bay leaves, celery and parsley. Aside from the taste angle, thyme is a good digestive aid so it's a win, win!
Medicinally speaking, thyme is way up there with overall good things to take. It is packed full of vitamins and nutrients for heath. Dried thyme and supplements certainly have their place, but fresh thyme wherever possible is the way to go, it has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all herbs. It is rich in potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and selenium as well as the B vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamins A,K,E,C and folic acid!
Thyme contains thymol which is an important essential oil that has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. it can be used topically and orally to treat conditions such as fungal infections like athletes foot, yeast infections and skin conditions like acne. It is also found to be good in treating external parasites. Oils, tinctures and creams can be made to treat individual conditions.
Thyme tea has been used since the middle ages as a sipping drink and gargle for aiding coughs, sore throats and symptoms of chest conditions such as bronchitis. It can also be used as a mouthwash for gum problems.
Simply pour recently boiled water over 3-4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (1-2 teaspoons of dried herb) and leave to steep for 5 minutes. If using as a garlgle or mouthwash use at a lukewarm temperature.
So you see, that humble little leaf is in fact an amazing thing to add to your recipes and herbal arsenal!
The strength of thyme treatments can affect some people and cause reactions / hypersensitivity among other things, as with all herbs please consult your doctor or qualified herbalist before using it especially for children or if you are pregnant!