Thyme Plant Power (Plus Recipe)
Thyme, a popular, earthy herb, is derived from Southern Europe, but it is grown throughout Mediterranean countries and Africa to North America. It is a scented bush that has green leaves and flowers that can be light pink or purple. Thyme can be traced back to ancient Egypt for embalming the dead. Ancient Greeks used thyme for its aroma, whereas Romans used the fragrant herb to cleanse their living quarters. During ancient Roman times, thyme was believed to protect
people from food poisoning.
In the Middle Ages, the Four Thieves Formula (which not only included cloves but other herbs like thyme) is what robbers used to guard themselves from contracting the deadly bubonic plague.
Thyme, a mighty antiseptic herb, was also believed to provide courage and stamina in the ancient Roman era. Historians claim Roman warriors gifted each other with thyme as a symbol of respect and a badge of courage.
Today, thyme is used to sweeten linens in Europe or even to stuff pillows, notes the HSA. Also, like me, you probably know thyme is enjoyed as a versatile and delicious culinary herb and garnish in the past and present.
The Legend of Magical Fairies and Wild Thyme
During the Victorian era, people believed in magical fairies. Some folks, according to the legend, believed thyme growing in the woods was a symbol that fairies had been there. Young girls would go to the forest where wild thyme grew. The lasses with dreams of good luck, romance, and prosperity would wait, eagerly wishing to see dancing good fairies so they could fulfill their desires.
THYME PLANT POWER: SURPRISE STUFF
Earthy thyme may include approximately three hundred different species, points out the Herb Society of America. The herb contains antioxidants, including apigenin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and thymol— the primary antiseptic compound that gives the herb its distinct flavor.
This Mediterranean herb contains a high antioxidant rating, like cloves and chives, on the ORAC scale. Thyme also boasts plenty of healthy vitamins and minerals. The lineup includes vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Also, thyme contains B-complex vitamins and folic acid. The minerals are to be noted, too, such as iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and selenium.
It is not surprising that thyme is a heart-healthy herb, which is of interest because heart disease is still the number one cause of death. Give credit to thyme’s minerals such as potassium. Potassium can lessen the stress on the cardiovascular system. How? Simply put, the mineral, also found in fruits and vegetables, relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Over time, keeping your blood pressure numbers normal at 120 over 80 (or even a bit under) may help to lessen the
risk of developing heart attacks and strokes.
Not to forget the immunity-boosting vitamin C is in this herb. We know vitamin C can boost white blood cells, which are the good guys that strengthen the body’s immune system. A weakened immune response can make us more vulnerable to contracting a common cold, flu bug, or even cancer. Potential medicinal powers of phytochemicals and medicinal herbs, like thyme, used for cancer prevention are not a pipe dream. Research shows thyme contains terpenoids, reported in
studies for their cancer preventive properties. Other anti-cancer compounds in thyme include borneol, carvacoel, geraniol, sabine hydrate, and thymol.
Bountiful Benefits: Thyme is touted for its multiple advantages. Past research shows that thyme has anti-inflammatory compounds. That fact makes thyme a useful herb for aiding respiratory ailments, including bronchitis, seasonal allergies, colds, and coughs. Since it works as an anti-inflammatory, it may open up your airways and can help you breathe easier.
It is also believed to stimulate blood circulation, thanks to its iron content of almost 20 percent of the recommended daily value. Iron stimulates red blood cells, enhancing circulation and oxygen to organs in the body. As a teenager I was borderline anemic due to crash diets from peer pressure to be thin. In my golden years, when I get a checkup my oxygen levels are monitored. Living in the mountains with high altitude doesn’t help, but a healthy lifestyle can counteract getting adequate
oxygen. Thyme is a good source of iron that both women and men should include in their diet.
Thyme also staves off fungal infections, and even relieves stress (raise your hand if you need help in this area), which can lead tochronic health issues such as elevated blood pressure or lower immunity to colds and flu. The vitamin C in thyme boosts white blood cells, which are like an army of soldiers protecting the body’s immune system. Plus, vitamin C helps produce collagen, needed to repair blood vessels, cells, muscles, and tissues.
This herb can also help guard against respiratory ailments like pesky seasonal allergies that come with a mixed bag of itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, and headaches. (The spring and autumn pollen and ragweed in the mountains are not my friends.) I did befriend thyme and added it to my arsenal to fight allergens.
During one winter when people on social media complained of a flu bug and colds, I (the hypochondriac) made a rustic shepherd’s meatless pie baked with fresh thyme. The distinct herb taste is a flavorful peppery oregano flavor.
Safety Sound Bite: Do not overindulge in thyme because it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Shake It Up Now! Thyme can be put to use both fresh and dried. I like combining both types for flavor and texture in lemon cookies and scones. It is an ingredient used in hand sanitizers, mouthwash, and even some toothpastes. Thyme is often used dried and used in wreaths past and present-day. When tracking Dr. Will Clower’s sailing around the world, stopping in Las Palmas, a city in the Canary Islands, thyme was noted. He spoke of thyme sauce with fish for dinner. I
cooked up salmon from the butcher and added thyme sprigs plucked from my potted plant as I studied herbs and spices on the deck of my Tahoe cabin.
The leaves can be removed from the stems and ground into spice, or the sprigs can be added in cooking. Leaves and sprigs can be used in tea and in homemade household cleaning products and crafts. It is available in both fresh (I buy the organic variety in a container; a pot to grow in my kitchen in the summer) and dried form at the grocery store. Also, thyme is used in spice blends, such as herbes de Provence and zaatar.
Roasted Cauliflower with Thyme
❖ ❖ ❖
In my childhood, my mother served cauliflower topped with a cheddar cheese sauce. Instead of using high fat cheese to make vegetables tasty, thyme paired with garlic and spices can titillate the palate. This is an easy dish that can be served year-round, but is perfect to warm you up during autumn and winter. Also, you can make a comforting cauliflower soup or cauliflower steaks. (Slice a whole cauliflower in thick slices and proceed as you will with florets.)
This herby recipe is not mine but I treat it like it is.
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
1 large red onion, sliced into 1-inch-thick wedges
4 tablespoons Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 teaspoon Eden Sea Salt
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and toss to evenly coat the cauliflower and onions with oil and seasonings. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until tender and browned, tossing occasionally to evenly roast. Remove and place in a serving dish.
(Courtesy: Eden Foods)
Excerpted with permission from The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices
A Complete Guide to Nature’s Timeless Treasures
By Cal Orey
(Citadel/Kensington Books; January 2021; Paperback Original, $16.95).