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History of Thyme Natural Herb - Medicinal Benefits of its Essential Oil

Updated on June 11, 2011

Thyme herb is a perennial shrub, which belongs to the Labiatae family of shrubs that grows up to 15 cm to 30 cm in height. Thyme has dark lilac flowers and tiny green leaves. The leaves of thymus citriodorus variety are wide and have a lemon scent and that is why this variety is also called lemon thyme. Before the invention of refrigerator, amazing essential oil concentration of thyme was used for preserving food due to its purification and preservative qualities. The Romans used thyme essential oil in their bathrooms for its stimulating qualities. Romans also used thyme in their kitchens with wine and cheese. In the middle ages, ladies used to give thyme to the knights to protect them in battle, as it was a symbol of courage for them. The scientific name of thyme is thymus vulgaris, which has been known since ancient times as a culinary and medicinal herb and has been used in natural and alternative medicine since that time period. According to aromatherapy, the aroma of thyme is pervasive, persistent, and strong. Thyme has powerful disinfectant and bactericidal effects, which are helpful in preventing infections and it has been used as a herbal remedy for many other ailments mentioned below due to its medicinal benefits. Also, thyme is called banajwain in Hindi.

Thyme natural herb
Thyme natural herb
Latin Poet Virgil and history of Thyme
Latin Poet Virgil and history of Thyme

Symbolism of Thymus Vulgaris - History of Thyme Natural Herb

The word “thymus” is derived from Egyptian word “tham” which means strong smelling and Egyptians used thyme in embalming. Thyme was then used later by Greeks who used to call it a fragrant plant. Thyme was then translated into Latin by Virgil, the famous poet and beekeeper. He used this name for the first time in his poetic works. In natural medicine, thyme has been recognized for its miraculous medicinal benefits in patients suffering from lung disorders.  Also, Galen, the Greek physician and philosopher, advised the use of thyme for people suffering from joint disorders. He also considered thyme as the most powerful antiseptic ever known.

Powdered thyme - Banajwain
Powdered thyme - Banajwain
North of the Alps - Thyme Herb Popularity
North of the Alps - Thyme Herb Popularity

Origin of Thyme Natural Herb

Botanical historians have contradictory proofs of origin of thyme. The exact time of thyme existence is unknown. Some historians believe it was the Romans who introduced thyme in England and on the other hand, some say that thyme began to get popular from North of the Alps between 850 and 1250. In 16th century, thyme was cultivated everywhere in the world. The famous German chemist, Neumann, was the first person who extracted the essential oil of thyme in year 1725. This powerful antiseptic herb is still used nowadays in various pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations and natural and alternitive medicine.

Extraction of Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil is extracted by distillation of its parts to get 2 volatile essences, one is red which is the purest form of thyme essential oil and another one is of a whitish color.

Steam distillation of essential oil
Steam distillation of essential oil
Essential oil inhalation
Essential oil inhalation

Medicinal Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

  • The essential oil of thyme has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
  • Inhalation of thyme oil has expectorant effect, which makes it ideal in treatment of colds and flu of the bronchial origin
  • Thyme essential oil massage tones the skin.
  • Thyme essential oil inhalation stimulates appetite.
  • Thyme is an anti-fungal herb.
  • Medicinal use of thyme essential oil helps the body's immune system.
  • Medicinal thyme oil treats urine infections and nocturnal enuresis in children.
  • Thyme stimulates, energizes, and tones body, strengthens the defense system, cleanses and purifies mind.

A video on how to grow thyme herb in your garden

I am writing for 60dc HubChallenge plus the usual 30 hubs in 30 days


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like the smell of thyme leaf. From where did I get the seed or stem to cultivate? I am from thiruvananthapuram, kerala. Can you help me?

      my e-mail ID is

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      @prairiprincess, Tuesdays child, and earthbound1974, thank you so much for your valuable comments inspiring me to write more on natural healing herbs like thyme.

    • earthbound1974 profile image


      9 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Art and Garfunkel mentioned almost all famous herbs in their song.I'm glad you featured Thyme and its medicinal properties. I've learned a lot! Thank you so much!

    • Tuesdays child profile image

      Tuesdays child 

      9 years ago from In the garden

      Thank you for the great information. I didn't realize thyme was so useful! I voted this article up!!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Wow, such good information! Thyme is my very favourite spice; I use it in almost everything I cook. However, I had no idea that it was so healthy. I have used it in a steam bath for a cold, but did not know about all the other benefits! Love learning about new health information. Great hub! Rated up, awesome and useful.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you so much Daria369 for sharing your personal experience with growing and using thyme in inhalation.

    • Daria369 profile image


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      What an incredible source of information, thank you!! I grow thyme myself and enjoy it very much. Every time I walk by this seemingly insignificant plant, I snip off some tiny leafs, squish them between my fingers and inhale. I couldn't describe what exactly that makes me feel like but I sure love it... :)

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you so much I have a lot more hubs on herbs to publish this month.

    • profile image 

      10 years ago

      Enjoyable read...thyme does have a lovely smell - Soni, you are becoming the spice expert!

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      10 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot Karen and Jayjay for your comments. Yes, there is no doubt thyme can treat staph infections as it has antiinflammatory and antibactericidal properties which help in treatment of infection. Regarding, therapeutic grade thyme oil it is not really difficult to find one. First of all we have to locate a therapeutic grade essential oil seller and then we can proceed with finding thyme oil TG.

    • jayjay40 profile image


      10 years ago from Bristol England

      Thyme is such a lovely smell to just inhale, I find it very calming

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      10 years ago from Central Oregon

      Yes, thyme essential oils must be very strong. I just wrote an article (not here) on the new discovery that it effectively cures staph infections. More people die in America, each year, from staph than any other infection. Although, the research says it must be theraputic grade thyme essential oils. I'm not sure where you find that.


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