Texas seems to be having one of those particularly widespread flu seasons that strikes every few years. My daughter and husband both succumbed to it in January, as did several extended family members. Fortunately all are on the mend, and I am now eagerly watching the calendar days tick closer toward spring!
I was grateful to have a garden bed of antiviral herbs readily available when my family members were sick in January. Thyme is my new all time favorite. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn about this awesome little healer, but now that I do it’s a cold & flu season preventative and respiratory relief staple at our house.
A Natural Healer
Packed with Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A, thyme has natural antibacterial, antiviral and expectorant properties that can ward off (or expedite healing for) flu and other illnesses. It’s also a good source of copper, iron and manganese. It combats infection and improves immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells. For a remarkably long list of ailments thyme can help treat, check out this tumblr article by asthmaherbs.
Perhaps the most impressive assertion that I’ve come across so far about this aromatic edible comes from a book called Life-Changing Foods by Anthony William. He claims thyme has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which interestingly makes it an ideal antiviral for an array of conditions that involve viruses attacking the brain or spinal cord. Read more about his thoughts on the benefits of this powerful herb here.
History of Thyme
If you’re curious about thyme’s long standing history as a revered protector and healer associated with courage, bravery, strength, and respect, check out this great article by Hungry History. It explain’s thyme’s early starring roles as an “antidote for poison, a plague preventative, a symbol of bravery in battle and a stalwart companion to the grave”. Greeks purified their homes with it, it was worn into battles in the Middle Ages, and ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming herb that was thought to aid passage into the spirit life. How cool is that? I’ll leave you with one last gem I love from this article: apparently in Victorian times, little girls would camp out near patches of wild thyme to catch glimpses of woodland fairy tribes, because wild thyme was a sign “that fairies had recently danced the night away on that very spot” (!!).
Preparing Thyme at Home
Now let’s give you something to sip on as you consider the many past lives of these powerful little sprigs! Here are a couple of options: Some choose to infuse water with thyme by placing a few cuttings to soak in a bottle overnight (above). My favorite way to harness the healing powers of thyme is in a homemade hot tea (below). I simply cut a handful of sprigs from our garden – or purchase fresh organic Thyme at the grocery store -and steep it in hot water for 10-15 minutes. I then strain it and add a teaspoon of Manuka honey*, and enjoy! If someone is sick in my house, I drink 2-3 cups per day in an effort to avoid catching their crud.
*And if you’re unfamiliar about the healing powers of Manuka honey, check out this article. It is another fantastic, albeit expensive, antiviral (and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antibiotic and wound healing, immune-stimulatory) supplement to add to your medicine cabinet for flu season. I add a teaspoon of Manuka honey to every smoothie and cup of tea between November and February for a flu season immune system booster.
If you have any concerns, be sure and do your own homework to determine if thyme tea and Manuka honey would be a good choice for your household this year.
Here’s to letting food be thy medicine this cold and flu season – and if you’re growing thyme yourself, be sure to thank your yarden for this healing ancient treasure!