Scientifically known as Thymus vulgaris, thyme is a savoury herb widely used in some countries of the world to flavour meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. In Nigeria, thyme is commonly used as a spice to enhance the natural flavor of meat and is often added to dishes like jollof or fried rice. It is also used as a cough suppressant and a cold cure. However, there are many more health benefits associated with thyme.
Some of the essential properties in this evergreen herb include fibre, carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a host of others.
Beyond being an aromatic herb, it will interest you to know that thyme is linked with a wide range of nutritional and medicinal benefits, which we shall be discussing in this article.
Health Benefits of Thyme
Thyme has been shown to have nutritional and medicinal benefits that extend beyond its use in cooking. Here are some of the health benefits of thyme:
1. Improves heart health
Thyme is an excellent source of potent properties, including antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, potassium, and manganese-all of which are beneficial to the human heart and overall well-being.
In recent studies, it was revealed that consuming thyme might help reduce the risk or effect of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular-related problems because of the important properties it contains.
For instance, the potassium in thyme acts as a vasodilator, which means it is effective in relaxing blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, as well as cholesterol levels.
In addition to the above, moderate consumption of thyme is also linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, atherosclerosis, heart attack, coronary heart disease, among others.
2. Prevents cancer
Cancer is a very serious health condition, and it is also one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Therefore, if you are looking for how to prevent cancer, then you should consume thyme regularly.
To start with, thyme contains oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, lutein, beta-sitosterol, etc., and numerous studies claim that the aforementioned properties are capable of reducing the risk of cancer, especially cancer of the colon.
Furthermore, studies show that carvacrol, one of the major components of thyme essential oil, is effective in inhibiting the growth and migration of cancer cell lines in the body. The compound is also believed to demonstrate certain therapeutic effects when it comes to the treatment and prevention of cancer of the colon.
Having said that, it might interest you to know that thyme is also prepared locally in certain countries of the world for treating breast cancer, which shows how powerful it is.
3. Treats inflammation
There are a lot of reasons you might experience inflammation in any part of your body, but regardless of that, the great news is that thyme has been proven to be a handy solution for this.
Thyme contains powerful compounds, such as carvacrol and thymol, which goes a long way in treating inflammation. Part of the roles of these compounds in the body includes the suppression of Cox-2, an inflammatory enzyme associated with several inflammatory ailments.
It is equally important to let you know that thyme oil is also effective in relieving painful symptoms of arthritis, gout, and some other related conditions.
4. Strengthens the immune system
Nothing can be compared with a sound immune system, especially when because it shields you against myriads of health conditions. Thankfully, thyme is a go-to option when it comes to herbs that can help boost your immunity.
First off, thyme is an excellent source of Vitamin A & C, both of which play a major role in enhancing the defense level of your immune system.
Vitamin C in thyme helps to stimulate the production of white blood cells to give your immune system a huge boost. It also contributes largely to the production of collagen, one of the essentials your body needs to create and repair cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.
5. Improves digestive health
Increasing your thyme intake isn’t just limited to the aforementioned benefits alone, as the herb also plays a significant role in improving the digestive system. How?
Thyme, when ingested, helps in inhibiting the multiplication of harmful gases in the stomach, which in turn gives the digestive health a huge boost. In addition to that, thyme also exhibits antispasmodic effects and might help relieve intestinal cramps.
6. Reduces the risk and effect of respiratory ailments
Respiratory ailments are quite widespread across different countries of the world, and they might result in serious health problems or even death if not well handled. These are diseases like bronchitis, chronic asthma, congestion, colds, flu, blocked sinuses, etc.
That being said, would you like to prevent or treat any of the aforementioned respiratory ailments? Thyme might help you with that!
Thyme exhibits expectorant and anti-inflammatory effects, which helps in getting rid of phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tracts in order to keep them healthy. It also relieves inflammation and shields against microbial development that may result in illness, among other things.
There are a lot of ways you can use thyme for respiratory ailments. For instance, you can prepare it as a tea and drink; you can extract its oil, and blend it with ivy leaves, to mention but a few.
7. Improves blood circulation
Thyme contains a high amount of iron ( about 20% of the recommended daily value) and other essential minerals, which helps in stimulating the production of red blood cells. This further helps in improving blood circulation and oxygenation to the essential organs of your body and thus boosting your overall health.
8. Fights acne
Thyme has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that make it an effective natural remedy for acne.
A study by Leeds Metropolitan University found that tinctures of thyme, marigold, and myrrh were effective in killing acne bacteria. The study also found that thyme extract is more effective in fighting acne than benzoyl peroxide, which is an ingredient in most acne treatments.
A study conducted in 2010 discovered that thyme essential oil has antibacterial properties against P. acnes, the bacteria believed to be responsible for causing acne.
Thyme can be used topically by mixing thyme essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and applying it to the skin. It can also be used as a toner by steeping dried thyme in witch hazel, which has astringent properties that can help control acne.
9. Effective pesticide
Another impressive health benefit of thyme is that it can be used as a natural pesticide due to its antimicrobial and insecticidal properties.
Thyme essential oil contains thymol, which can kill insects such as ants, worms, fleas, grasshoppers, ground beetles, leafhoppers, and mosquitoes. Thyme oil can also control plant pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses by attacking and breaching their cellular membranes, causing their death.
To use thyme oil as a pesticide, mix a few drops of thyme essential oil with water and spray it on the affected plants or areas. This natural pesticide is a safe and effective alternative to chemical pesticides.
10. May fight against yeast infection
Thyme essential oil has antifungal properties that can help fight against yeast infections caused by Candida albicans.
In fact, a 2021 study discovered that even low doses of thyme essential oil were effective in killing Candida albicans, even when the fungus was resistant to the prescription medication fluconazole.
Thyme oil works by penetrating the cell membrane of the fungus and disrupting its cellular functions, leading to its death.
Nevertheless, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of ingesting thyme oil as a treatment for Candida infections.
As you have seen in this article, thyme is a herb that is packed with numerous health benefits. It can easily be incorporated into your diet through culinary uses, such as adding it to soups, stews, and roasted vegetables or used in other ways. With its versatility and health benefits, thyme is definitely a herb worth considering.
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