Once more, unto the breach, dear friends.
Henry V, William Shakespeare
Originally a Mediterranean plant, its name derives from the Greek word ‘thymos’ meaning spirit or smoke. This may, in part, relate to the idea of fumigation. The herb was used as an ingredient in ancient Egyptian mummification and embalming. Medieval herbalists recommended it to protect against evil spirits. They tucked it under pillows to guard against bad dreams and to promote deep, calm sleep. Such an easy to grow, prolific, perennial plant, it was probably one of the first essential oils to be produced. At that time most large houses contained still rooms, to manufacture tonics and elixirs like essential oil of thyme. Certainly the plant’s antiseptic nature seems to have been known since the earliest of times. Today, we also respect the extraordinary anti-inflammatory and bactericidal qualities of thyme essential oil.
At Vinevida, we sell Red Thyme essential oil.
Red Thyme is reddish-brown, with an intense but short-lived fragrance. It is fresh and herbaceous and has sweet-spicy undertones. It is a strong medicinal scent but is Extremely pretty if you use it in tiny dilutions. It acts as a middle to top note in blends and diffuses extremely quickly with very little persistence.
Awareness of The Chemical Impact of Thyme Essential Oil
Energetically, we view thyme as being stimulant and relaxant. A strange, almost paradoxical mix.
Its main medicine comes from either thymol or carvacrol, depending on the chemotype. Since these are phenols, the oil can take some delicate handling. Phenols are wonderful antibacterials and antibiotics agents. They have hot and penetrating qualities. If you’re not careful, they can irritate the skin and the mucus membranes. Blending them with oils with non-irritant oils tends to mediate that. We would not recommend using thyme essential oil in the bath, however.
Also be aware that cats do not possess the enzymes in their livers that are required to break down phenols. Do not diffuse phenol rich oils around your feline pals.
Ancient Usage of Thyme
Ancient literature tells us that Roman soldiers would bathe in thyme baths before they went into battle. This may be connected to the idea of Thumos, the way the Greeks considered spirit moved around the body. The idea is best seen in the works of Homer, where we see the internal commentary of the heroes. In some instances, we see the thumos almost as an external person that the hero sits in front of to discuss strategy and concerns with. The word appears in the context of “spirited stallion” or “spirited debate”.
Thumos has an elemental aspect to it of breath or blood, but also expresses a person’s desire to achieve recognition.
Thyme Essential Oil’s Effects on Breath
The Bacterial Effects of Thyme Essential Oil
In 1887, its bactericidal action was demonstrated by Chamberland. (Battaglia, 2018)
Lis Balchin described that the activities against bacteria are different between cultivars. This applied to cases of inhalations as well as topical usage. Red thyme essential oil was the best performing of the thyme oils against all the bacteria tested in the study.( Lis-Balchin 1999)
So, using thyme essential oil for bacterial infections of the respiratory system would seem to be an excellent plan. If you’re not sure what those would be, they include coughs and colds, bronchitis and pneumonia. Most thyme species are credited with being wonderful for their bronchylictic properties. Begrow et al (2010) demonstrated that thymol and carvacrol exerted an antispasmodic effect on the trachea. (Peace Rhind 2020) which could explain thyme’s antitussive nature. However, some chemotypes have minute amounts of these chemicals, yet you still see the same calming effects on coughs.
The fortifying nature of Thyme oil makes it particularly useful for treating more children with respiratory problems, and who are ordinarily quite sensitive and frail. In that I would say psychically sensitive, autistic, or those who have been undergoing long term medical treatments. That could be respiratory for asthma, or something unrelated, like treatment for cancer.
Blending thyme essential oil with roman chamomile and myrtle oils makes a very calming and gentle help for kid’s coughs. Lis Balchin also recommends thyme for mouth washes, gargles, cough linctuses and for whooping cough.
So, when we say thyme essential oil is good for a cough, we can break that down even more, to describe the cough. Certainly repetitive. It has an expectorant quality, so therefore both chesty coughs, and unproductive dry coughs will benefit from its use.
Thyme Essential Oils Action Upon Blood
Thyme essential Oil stimulates circulation. We don’t need a clinical trial to prove this. Use it topically, and not only can you feel its quickening effect, it turns the skin pink as it brings blood to the surface.
Thyme essential oil strengthens immunity by stimulating white blood corpuscles to be produced. sPeter Holmes recommends it for someone who perpetually catches coughs, colds and low grade infections.
Thyme Essential Oil for Digestion
Flatulence, bloating, abdominal distention are all settled with thyme essential oil.
Both chronic diarrhea or irregular bowel movements appreciate its effects on the smooth intestine.
It is an appetite stimulant, so again a great choice for convalescence.
Thyme Essential Oil Has a Strong Effect on Fungi
Useful for conditions such as dandruff, athlete’s foot, malassezia or candida albicans.
Use it for Aches and Pains
The phenolic warmth is great for cold joints, arthritis, rheumatism and gout. For the same reason, blend it with ginger for Raynaud’s disease or cold hands and feet.
It is lovely for issues that cause cramping and stiffness. Aromatherapists tend to integrate magnesium into most treatments for cramping. It is interesting that thyme is one of the richest natural sources of magnesium. It is almost as if the magnesium works through the thyme essential oil. Although that cannot be so, since the mineral would not pass through distillation.
A fascinating thing.
Gynecological Impact of Thyme Essential Oil
Whilst it wouldn’t be the first choice for scanty periods - rose, geranium or sweet basil would be better, it does help to support regular menstruation. Perhaps because of its effect on blood, it can also be helpful for painful periods, although again clary sage and Melissa essential oil may be more useful.
That said, there are always benefits to changing up and varying oil choices, especially in line with the mental and emotional context of the situation.
Other oils for example may not offer any help to feeling overwhelmed and unable to make decisions during PMT week, whereas thyme most certainly would. In the same way, if one becomes emotionally weak and easily disoriented during these hormonal times, thyme would be an excellent choice.
Mental attributes of Red Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme is great if you feel a little out of things. Maybe you feel apathetic or lacking in motivation, or you may feel spacey and disconnected from your body. It is very useful for people who can be overly intellectual and spend too much time in their heads. Often this nature can be a coping mechanism for fear. Putting off a decision feels safer. For others it may be purely a lack of direction, and thyme can help here.
Again, I can’t help but think of the Roman centurion, bleak and worn down by his men who have had grown weary of battle. Thyme sits before him drawing up resistance and courage to soldier on.
When someone is very drained after a long emotional fight, or has been working on a project for a long time, thyme is wonderful for mental fatigue. It makes me smile to see how the most hard working of the animal kingdom, the bee, adores to sit a while on thyme.
Choose it for mental confusion, poor concentration and disorientation.
Thyme Essential Oil Effect on Emotions
We spoke of an inability to move forward, perhaps through fear or lack of direction. But of course this might also be that the energy has just run out. Think of how thyme essential oil has the capacity to force qi right from the heart space to the extremities, warming the fingers and toes, enlivening the circulation and strengthening the spirit.
From a writer’s point of view, it removes blockages.
The Spiritual Dimensions Of Thyme Essential Oil
Perhaps its most important hidden aspect is how it helps us to acknowledge our shadow, and to be gentle and compassionate with it. Elizabeth Ashley chooses it as a specific for people who have endured gaslighting. Thyme seems to be able to draw the line where the truth ended and the misdirection began. Clearly, the puppeteer’s strings snap when we throw light on the fears they used and explicit us to convince us we were wrong.
It is an essential oil of strategy, honor and truth. Interestingly, in days of valor, ladies would embroider bees landing on sprigs of thyme to give to knights.
Valerie Ann Worwood cites it as a good choice for visualization. Consciously training your mind to see yourself asking for a raise etc. The thyme essential oil not only focuses the mind, but instills enough bravery to ask the question.
Safety of Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil is not suitable for use during pregnancy. Because of its rubefacient properties (reddening the skin, it is not recommended to be used in the bath).
You may not have been inspired to buy red thyme before this. It is certainly not an oil many people would cite as a favorite. Yet, it seems to act as a physician plant. Somehow, it seems to strengthen the effects of other oils. It encourages them to work stronger, smarter and more effectively. The addition of a bottle is thyme essential oil would improve a benefit to any aromatherapy tool box. As demonstrated, red thyme is the most efficacious against bacteria.
The Fragrant Mind - Valerie Ann Worwood
The Fragrant Heavens - Valerie Ann Worwood
Aromatica- Peter Holmes
Essential Oils - Jennifer Peace Rhind
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy - Salvatore Battaglia