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Thyme      

This gnarly old Thyme is planted in the top of the stone mound. It seems to like it there.

Medicinal Properties:
Antiseptic, antispasmodic, tonic and carminative.

The pounded herb, if given fresh, from 1 to 6 OZ. daily, mixed with syrup, has been employed with success as a safe cure for whooping cough. An infusion made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, sweetened with sugar or honey, is also used for the same purpose, as well as in cases of catarrh and sore throat, given in doses of 1 or more tablespoonsful, several times daily. The wild plant may be equally well used for this.

Thyme tea will arrest gastric fermentation. It is useful in cases of wind spasms and colic, and will assist in promoting perspiration at the commencement of a cold, and in fever and febrile complaints generally.

In herbal medicine, Thyme is generally used in combination with other remedies.

Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Oil, 1 to 10 drops.

According to Culpepper, Thyme is:
‘a noble strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows, nor is there a better remedy growing for hooping cough. It purgeth the body of phlegm and is an excellent remedy for shortness of breath. It is so harmless you need not fear the use of it. An ointment made of it takes away hot swellings and warts, helps the sciatica and dullness of sight and takes away any pains and hardness of the spleen: it is excellent for those that are troubled with the gout and the herb taken anyway inwardly is of great comfort to the stomach.’

Gerard says it will ‘cure sciatica and pains in the head,’ and is healing in leprosy and the falling sickness.

Oil of Thyme is employed as a rubefacient and counter-irritant in rheumatism, etc.

Thyme enters into the formula for Herb Tobacco, and employed in this form is good for digestion, headache and drowsiness.

In Perfumery, Essence of Thyme is used for cosmetics and rice powder. It is also used for embalming corpses.

The dried flowers have been often used in the same way as lavender, to preserve linen from insects.

In this country, Thyme is principally in request for culinary requirements, for its use in flavouring stuffings, sauces, pickles, stews, soups, jugged hare, etc. The Spaniards infuse it in the pickle with which they preserve their olives.

All the different species of Thyme and Marjoram yield fragrant oils extensively used by manufacturing perfumers for scenting soaps. When dried and ground, they enter into the composition of sachet powders.

THYMOL, a most valuable crystalline phenol, is the basis of the fragrant volatile Essence of Sweet Thyme, and is obtainable from Carum copticum, Monarda punctata and various other plants, as well as from T. vulgaris, being present to the extent of from 20 to 60 per cent in the oils which yield it. Ajowan oil, its principal commercial source (from the seeds of C. copticum) contains from 40 to 55 per cent of Thymol; the oil of T. vulgaris contains from 20 to 30 per cent as a rule of Thymol and Carvacrol in varying proportions, while the oil of M. punctata contains 61 per cent of Thymol.

The extraction of Thymol is effected by treating the oil with a warm solution of sodium hydroxide: this alkali dissolves the Thymol, and on dilution with hot water the undissolved oil (terpenes, etc.) rises to the surface. The alkaline thymol compound is decomposed by treatment with hydrochloric acid and subsequent crystallization of the oily layer into large, oblique, prismatic crystals. Thymol (methyl-propyl-phenol) has been prepared synthetically.

When treated with caustic potash and iodine, it yields iodo-thymol, commonly known as ‘Aristol.’

Camphor of Thyme was noticed first by Neumann, apothecary to the Court at Berlin in 1725. It was called Thymol and carefully examined in 1853 by Lallemand and recommended instead of Phenol (carbolic acid) in 1868 by Bouilhon, apothecary, and Paquet, M.D., of Lille.

Thymol is a powerful antiseptic for both internal and external use; it is also employed as a deodorant and local anaesthetic. It is extensively used to medicate gauze and wool for surgical dressings. It resembles carbolic acid in its action, but is less irritant to wounds, while its germicidal action is greater. It is therefore preferable as a dressing and during recent years has been one of the most extensively used antiseptics.

Thymol is also a preservative of meat.

In respect of its physiological action, Thymol appears to stand between carbolic acid and oil of turpentine. Its action as a disinfectant is more permanent and at the same time more powerful than that of carbolic acid. It is less irritating to the skin, does not act as a caustic like carbolic acid, and is a less powerful poison to mammals. In the higher animals it acts as a local irritant and anaesthetic to the skin and mucous membrane. It is used as an antiseptic lotion and mouth wash; as a paint in ringworm, in eczema, psoriasis, broken chilblains, parasitic skin affections and burns; as an ointment, halfstrength, perfumed with lavender, to keep off gnats and mosquitoes. Thymol in oily solution is applied to the respiratory passages by means of a spray in nasal catarrh, and a spirituous solution may be inhaled for laryngitis, bronchial affections and whooping cough. It is most useful against septic sore throat, especially during scarlet-fever. Internally, it is given in large doses, to robust adults, in capsules, as a vermifuge, to expel parasites, especially the miner’s worm, and it has also been used in diabetes and vesical catarrh.

Thymol finds no place in perfumery, but the residual oil after extracting the crystalline Thymol from Ajowan oil, which amounts to about 50 per cent of the original oil, is generally sold as a cheap perfume for soap-making and similar purposes, under the name of ‘Thymene.’

Till the outbreak of war, Thymol was manufactured almost exclusively in Germany. One of the chief commercial sources of Thymol, Ajowan seed (C. copticum), is an annual umbelliferous plant, a kind of caraway, which is abundant in India, where it is widely cultivated for the medicinal properties of its seeds. Almost the whole of the exports of Ajowan seed from India, Egypt, Persia and Afghanistan went to Germany for the distillation of the oil and extraction of Thymol, the annual export of the seed from India being about 1,200 tons, from which the amount of Thymoi obtainable was estimated at 20 tons. On the outbreak of war the export of Ajowan seed dropped to 2 tons per month, and there was a universal shortage of Thymol, just when it was urgently needed for the wounded.

As a result of investigations by the Imperial Institute, Thymol is now being made by several firms in this country, and the product is equal in quality and appearance to that previously imported from Germany. In India, also, good samples were obtained as a result of experiments conducted in Government laboratories in the early months of the War, and by the close of 1915 companies were already established at Dehra and Calcutta for its manufacture on a large scale. In the two years ending June, 1919, as much as 10,500 lb. of Thymol were exported from Calcutta.

Several other plants can be utilized as sources of Thymol, although none yield such high percentages as Ajowan seed. The following new sources of Thymol were suggested when the scarcity of the valuable antiseptic made itself so severely felt on curtailment of Continental supplies: Garden Thyme and Wild Thyme (T. vulgaris and serpyllum), American Horse Mint (M. punctata), Cunila mariana, Mosla japonica, Origanum hirtum, Ocimim viride and Satureja thymbra.

The oil of Thyme obtained by distilling the fresh-flowering herb of T. vulgaris is already an article of commerce, and contains varying amounts of Thymol, but the actual amount present is not very high, varying, as already stated, from 20 to 25 per cent, only in very rare cases amounting to more; and the methods of separation in order to obtain a pure compound are necessarily more complicated than in the manufacture from Ajowan oil.

The American Horsemint (M. punctata), native to the United States and Canada, seems likely to prove a more valuable source of Thymol than T. vulgaris. It yields from 1 to 3 per cent of a volatile oil, which contains a large proportion of Thymol, up to 61 per cent having been obtained; Carvacrol also appears to be a constituent. The oil has a specific gravity of 0.930 to 0.940, and on prolonged standing deposits crystals of Thymol.

Another species also found in America (M. didyma) (called also ‘Oswego tea’ from the use sometimes made of its leaves in America) is said to yield an oil of similar composition, though not to the same degree, and so far M. punctata is considered the only plant indigenous to North America which can be looked upon as a fruitful source of Thymol, though from C. mariana, also found in North America, an oil is derived – Oil of Dittany – which is stated to contain about 40 per cent of phenols, probably Thymol.

Thymol is also contained in the oil distilled from the dry herb of Mosla japonica, indigenous to Japan. It is stated to yield about 2.13 per cent of oil, containing about 44 per cent of Thymol.

Satureja thymbra, which is used in Spain as a spice and is closely allied to the Savouries grown in the English kitchen garden, yields an oil containing about 19 per cent of Thymol. Other species of Satureja contain Carvacrol.

A new source of Thymol is also Ocimum viride, the ‘Mosquito Plant’ of West Africa and the West Indies, which yield 0.35 to 1.2 of oil from which 32 to 65 per cent of Thymol can be extracted. This plant occurs wild on all soils in every part of Sierra Leone, and is also grown in the Seychelles. In Sierra Leone it bears the name of ‘Fever-plant’ on account of its febrifugal qualities; a decoction is made from the leaves.

The Origanum oils shipped from Trieste and Smyrna generally contain only Carvacrol, the only species yielding Thymol exclusively and to a considerable degree being Origanum hirtum, which may be regarded as a promising source of Thymol.

Recently a Spanish species of Thyme has been used as a source of Thymol (T. zygis, Linn.), known to Theophrastus as Serpyllum zygis. It is common throughout Spain and Portugal, occurring in oak and other woods, in desert and dry gravelly places among the sierras of the central, eastern and southern provinces. In consequence of its wide distribution, the common names for the plant vary greatly; in Portugal it is known as Wood Marjoram, ouregao do mato; but the most frequently recurring name in Spain is Tomillo salsero or Sauce Thyme, from its use as a condiment. The species is very similar to T. vulgaris, but is easily distinguished by the comparatively large white hairs at the base of the leaves. The flowers are either purple or white, the white form being the only one occurring in the Balearic Islands, where it is called Senorida de flor blanca. There are two well-known varieties, var. floribunda and var. gracillis, a simpler, less-branched form, and it is the latter (not such a decided alpine as floribunda) which is now being used by a British manufacturer as a source of Thymol. See Chemist and Druggist, June 12th and July 17th, 1920. Var. gracilis is more easily collected on account of its lower station, and further unguarded exploitation of the wild plant might result in the substitution of var. floribunda, which it seems probable yields an oil with quite different characters and content from those of the oil obtained from var. gracilis.

Carvacrol has not hitherto been employed in medicine, but the antiseptic properties of Origanum oil, consisting principally of Carvacrol, as well as of the phenol itself, have been investigated and Iodocrol – iodide of Carvacrol – a reddish-brown powder, has been used lately as an antiseptic in place of iodoform in treatment of eczema and other skin diseases.

If required, a British Possession can provide Carvacrol as a substitute for Thymol. It can be obtained from oils derived from a variety of plants, but most profitably from the Origanum of Cyprus (Origanum dubium), which contains 82.5 per cent of Carvacrol. At the instance of the Imperial Institute, this Cyprus Origanum oil has been produced in commercial quantities from wild plants in Cyprus, and already in 1913 was exported thence to the United Kingdom to the value of L. (lear) 980. It is believed that the plant can be cultivated profitably and on a large scale in Cyprus, and experiments in this direction were begun shortly after the outbreak of war. The oil from O. onites, var. Symrnaeum – Smyrna Origanum oil – contains 68 per cent phenols, almost wholly Carvacrol. Other sources of Carvacrol are Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot), which yields 52 to 58 per cent of Carvacrol; Satureja montana (Winter Savoury or White Thyme), oil from wild plants of this species containing 35 to 40 per cent of Carvacrol; while that from cultivated plants has been found to contain as much as 65 per cent. A sample of Dalmatian Satureja, a form of S. montana, yielded at the Imperial Institute 68.75 of phenolic constituents, consisting mostly of Carvacrol.

This planting is in the Medicinal Herb garden .

Planted.

Latest Milestone Sown

Quantity: 1

Plant Thyme Thymus vulgaris 2260

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  • 01 Jul 2005

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