Thyme has long been used as an antiseptic. Now this herb -- a favorite in savory dishes, from vinaigrettes to holiday stuffing -- has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, too. That makes your heart happy, since high levels of inflammation in your body can open the door to heart disease, the number one killer in America.
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Louis Rosner, Neurology, answeredThyme has a long history of use in natural medicine. During the Middle Ages, thyme was grown in monastery gardens in southern France and in Spain and Italy for use as a cough remedy, digestive aid, and treatment for intestinal parasites. Thyme's most active ingredient, thymol, is used in such over-the-counter products as Listerine mouthwash and Vicks VapoRub because of its well-known antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thymol apparently also has a therapeutic effect on the lungs. Ingesting or inhaling the oil helps to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract.
In Germany, concoctions of thyme are frequently prescribed for coughs, including those resulting from whooping cough, bronchitis, and emphysema. In the United States, thyme extract was included in a popular cough syrup that is no longer on the market. In addition, thyme has also been used against athlete's foot. Its primary ingredients are flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, eriodicytol), tannins, bitter compounds, resin, saponin, and volatile oils (thymol, methylchavicol, cineole, and borneol). Thymol is the most valuable for medicinal purposes (but carvacrol, an isomeric phenol, is present in some oils).