Thyme isn’t just found in the herb aisle. Many types of mouthwash also contain thymol as an active ingredient – which is derived from thyme. It also makes an appearance in bouquet garni, a bunch of mixed herbs that are packed in a muslin bag and used to add depth and flavour to stews and soups.
Thyme – which is a member of the mint family – has many active compounds which are responsible for giving it its perceived health-boosting properties. In particular, it is known to contain thymol. This phytonutrient is believed to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial in action. It is also thought to help reduce pain, which alongside its impact on inflammation is what it is most often used for in traditional medicine.
Thyme has a slightly sweet woody note to it, while its grey/green leaves also have a woody scent. It’s a great addition to meat and fish dishes and also makes a lovely addition to Mediterranean vegetable dishes, such as those with tomatoes, onions, garlic and olives. Thyme can be added to dishes whole to add flavour, before removing them when serving, or the small leaves can be stripped from the stem and added whole to dishes.
Thyme has been used for thousands of years – originally at funeral rituals and in temples. More recently folk healers have recommended it for bad breath, sore throats, diarrhoea and skin disorders.
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