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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

The Thyme is Now for this Wonderful Herb

by Brenda Cobb

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he new year is when we are all thinking about the possibilities for our lives and we are making plans and resolutions to create a great year for ourselves. Time seems to fly by, so let’s look at the magical herb, thyme, a member of the mint family. It was originally grown as a decorative, rather than a culinary, herb in the Mediterranean. Its botanical name, thymus, is connected with the Greek word thymon, meaning to fumigate, as it was used for incense in temples. Another derivation is from the Greek thymos, which signifies courage and strength, as the plant was held in ancient and medieval days to be a great source of invigoration.

There are more than 100 varieties of thyme, all developed from wild thyme, T. serphyllum. Each variety looks slightly different and has a different flavor and aroma. Thyme from England has broad leaves; French thyme has narrow leaves; and winter thyme from Germany stays green all winter. There are also thymes that taste and smell like lemon, mint, pine, licorice, caraway or nutmeg. Thyme has long been associated with bees and honey, because the plant attracts enormous amounts of bees.

The gray-green leaves of fresh thyme smell resinous and sweet, and have a bright, sharp taste. It can easily overpower other more delicate flavors, so it should be used with discretion. It especially complements vegetables of the cabbage family, tomatoes and zucchini.

Thyme is an excellent natural tranquilizer because it contains carvacrol, which has a tonic effect on the nerve centers. It also helps retard hair loss by improving the superficial blood vessels of the scalp that feed the roots of the hair. Oil of thyme has a powerful antiseptic action, and was used in World War I as an antiseptic, as well as a local anesthetic and deodorant. Thyme tea, sweetened with honey, is a soothing cough mixture and is helpful for fevers, relieves headaches, acts as a mood elevator, expels gas and increases perspiration.

Thyme has not always been a seasoning herb. History records its cultivation for decorative, ceremonial, aphrodisiac and medicinal purposes. Long valued as an herb of courage, elegance and grace in Greece, the highest compliment that could be paid a man was to tell him that he smelled of thyme. It was very popular as a bath scent and used as a male cosmetic. In the Middle Ages, thyme sprigs or thyme-embroidered kerchiefs and scarves were given by ladies to their favorite knights in order to protect them in battle.

If a young girl wore a corsage of wild thyme flowers, it meant that she was looking for a sweetheart. If a bashful boy drank enough wild thyme tea, it would give him the courage to take her up on it. Due to its antiseptic qualities, it was included in the embalming fluids used by the Egyptians and the posies carried by European judges and nobility to protect them from the odors and diseases of the common people.

A bed of thyme was thought to be a favorite for fairies, that would creep out late in the evening and frolic in the garden. According to legend, at midnight on Midsummer’s Eve, the king of the fairies and his followers dance in beds of wild thyme. You may not be dancing in a bed of thyme anytime soon, but you certainly can enjoy the wonderful flavor and health benefits by including thyme in your recipes. Enjoy the flavor and the benefits of thyme and this delicious and easy-to-prepare dish.

Thyme Cabbage

4 cups cabbage 1 cup tomatoes 1⁄2 cup onion 1⁄2 cup pitted dates 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves 2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp Himalayan salt 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice Pinch cayenne pepper

Chop the cabbage, onion, tomatoes and dates. Combine with the thyme, olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Let this sit for a couple of hours and all of the flavors will meld together.

Brenda Cobb is the author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle Courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876 and visit

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