Thyme is a very important plant for beekeeping in Greece. The common thyme (usually cultivated) is the species Thymus vulgaris L. which is a small woody aromatic evergreen shrub 20-40cm high. It lives around 7 years and has small, narrow, gray-green oval shaped leaves. Its pink, lilac and white flowers bloom in June and July. It is a very drought resistant plant as it needs very little water to grow and survive. It grows well in pots when placed in a sunny spot. 23 species of thyme are found in Greece. Thymus vulgaris is native to all countries of the Mediterranean basin and cultivated in countries such as China, Russia and the USA. The fresh partially dried leaves and flowering tops are steam distilled to produce thyme essential oil.
Mythology and legend
Thymus comes from one of two Greek words; "thyo" meaning to fumigate or perfume or "thymus" meaning courage. According to Plato "thymus" is one of three essential parts of the soul and is the motivating power of bravery and courage. According to Greek mythology thyme was created by the teardrops of Helen of Troy and the intervention of the Gods of Mt. Olympus. Thyme was also dedicated to the goddess of love Aphrodite due to the belief that thyme enhanced passion. According to legend the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysus the Elder renowned for his festive symposiums, he used to sprinkle freshly cut thyme in the halls and the guests were overwhelmed with erotic passion.
Uses according to Hippocrates and other ancient physicians
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used thyme for its therapeutic properties (laxative, diuretic, expectorant, etc). Dioscorides, the father of pharmacognosy, describes in detail 3 species of thyme. According to Homer thyme was a symbol of strength and bravery. The elderly consumed regularly thyme infusions to maintain their mental strength. Soldiers bathed in thyme to prepare for battle. It was widely known to the ancients because it was an herb the bees loved and honey was favoured by the gods. It was used as an aromatic herb and also rubbed on the tables to clean them for food. It was traditionally used to preserve meat and in general used to enhance foods with its flavour and digestive properties. Thyme was also used internally and externally as an antiseptic.
Uses according to tradition
The Romans spread the use of thyme through Europe as they used it to purify their rooms and give an aromatic flavor to foods such as cheese and liqueurs.
In the Middle Ages the herb was placed under the pillow to help sleep and keep nightmares away. Furthermore, during the Middle Ages thyme was used against melancholy and depression.
It was very common for warriors to either have fresh thyme leaves, or handkerchiefs and shields with thyme on them in order to give them courage. Thyme accompanied the dead as it was believed to assure safe passage into the after life.
Properties and uses in the 21st century
Thyme is a major spice in the food industry as it is widely used to flavor fish, meat and poultry, sauces and soups, etc. It is also a main ingredient of the liqueur Benedictine.
For centuries and until today, thyme is used in products that treat colds, coughing, and sore throat and against the common flu. It has proven strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It enhances the immune system. It is also used to soothe toothaches.
Uses... by APIVITA
APIVITA uses organic thyme essential oil for its excellent antiseptic, antibacterial and toning properties. Thyme also helps fight infections of the respiratory system, relieves the symptoms of common cold and headaches.
Natural Soap with Propolis deeply cleanses pores and regulates oiliness due to the inclusion of propolis extract and thyme essential oil.
Disclaimer: Information on this particular article is intended for information purposes only. It is not the intention of the editor to advise on health care. Please see a medical professional about any health concerns you have.