Thyme is an aromatic herb that is a close relative of oregano with a variety of uses in cooking, medicine, and as a decoration in households. Thyme has a long history, being used by the Ancient Egyptians to the Greeks to the Europeans in the middle ages for various purposes which are not performed anymore. In ancient Egypt, thyme was used to preserve human and animal remains. The herb then moved across the sea to Greece, where it was used in baths and burned as incense to instil courage in men. In fact, the herb is actually thought to have spread through Europe due to the Romans, who used it to purify their rooms and to make cheese and alcohol smell better. Finally, in the Middle Ages, this herb was placed underneath pillows to help people have a better night’s sleep and given to knights as gifts to make them more courageous and so ends our journey through thyme’s history.
As with other herbs, thyme is extremely nutritious in its dried and raw form. In particular, thyme contains thymol, a biocide which can destroy organisms such as harmful bacteria. When thyme is used with other biocides it can have strong antimicrobial properties, which is why in the olden days it was also used to protect people from contracting the plague. Moreover, as we become ever more conscious about our skin problems such as acne, herbal medicine is evolving to become a very important strategy to target these problems. In England, scientists tested the effects of thyme on the bacterium that causes acne, and its antibacterial effect proved to be even better than benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in acne creams/face washes.