Naturopathic Kitchen: The Health Benefits of Thyme

A bundle of fresh thyme on a wooden surface.

Thyme is a popular herb that grows well in various climates. It is native to the Mediterranean and part of the popular Mediterranean diet, which is widely considered to be very beneficial to health. 1 Thyme has an earthy flavor with sweet floral tones, and pairs well with savory dishes, especially poultry, white fish, and root vegetables. Thyme has been used as a medicinal plant for hundreds of years and has a number of beneficial healing properties. 2 

Health Benefits of Thyme

While more research needs to be conducted in order to confirm many of the suspected medicinal benefits of thyme, the herb is commonly used in the following ways to improve health.

Immunity Booster

Thyme is packed with vitamins and other nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. These all help to boost the immune system and prevent colds, flus, and other illnesses and increasing your thyme intake can improve the function of your immune system. 3 

Cough & Sore Throat Remedy

The essential oils in thyme can help to alleviate coughs and sore throats caused by bronchitis, cold, and flu.4 The best way to use thyme as a cough and sore throat remedy is to brew it into a tea. Steep fresh or dried thyme leaves in boiling water for a few minutes–add peppermint leaves if you don’t like the taste of thyme on its own–and sip to soothe a scratchy throat or nagging cough.

Reduce Inflammation & Aid Healing

Thyme has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties, which is why it has long been used to help heal cuts, bruises, and scrapes. 5 Products that contain thyme can be applied topically to help speed along the healing process, and consuming thyme helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Add more thyme to your diet by brewing it into tea, using it to season meat and vegetable dishes, adding it as a garnish to your favorite drinks, taking thyme supplements in capsule form, or add the recipe below to your regular weeknight-meal rotation.

Roasted Parsnip Celeriac Soup with Thyme

This recipe combines the health benefits of thyme with parsnips and celeriac. While parsnips, thyme, and celeriac root all have plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C, celeriac also contains minerals such as copper, which helps restore immunity. This sweet, slightly salty and very satisfying soup was presented by Debra Brammer, ND, clinical dean of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, during a talk called “Herbs to Support Immunity,” part of the 2011 Living Naturally fall lecture series at the clinic. Watch the talk in its entirety and view Dr. Brammer’s other immune-boosting recipes via the article “Bastyr Dean Shares Recipes for Immunity.”

Ingredients

  • 1  celeriac root
  • 2 large parsnips (or substitute carrots if desired)
  • 5 large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3  leeks
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (rounded)
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken, vegetable or mushroom broth

Instructions

Peel and chop the potatoes, celeriac root, and parsnips. Wash and slice the leeks. Place all of the vegetables in a covered roasting pan and add the oil and seasonings. Stir to coat. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Cool the vegetables and process through a mixer, food processor, or ricer. Add the broth until desired consistency is reached. Stir well and warm before serving. This soup stores well and reheats easily in a microwave.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the healing capacity of food and other natural health practices, naturopathic medicine may be a good fit for you.

 

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