Thymus vulgaris species
From the lamiaceae family and native to Spain and the mediterranean region.
The many species of thyme are derived from the original wild thyme, Thymus serpyllum, also called ‘mother of thyme’ and native to southern Europe.
There seems to be no other aromatic plant which possesses such a wide range of chemeotypes as Thymus vulgaris, at least six.
The two most common are thymol and carvacrol which are extracted from the plant which grows at low level close to the mediterranean sea. The plant is a perrenial evergreen herb up to 45cm high with a woody root and branched upright stem.
The oil has a rather sweet, warm and strongly herbal fragrance and is extracted from the flowers and leaves by steam distillation. Records show it has been used for over 3,500 years. The ancient Egyptians called it Tham and used it for embalming. Hippocrates recommended infusions of the herb at the end of banquets for digestive purposes.
The Romans used it to dispel melancholy and promote bravery. Their soldiers would bathe in thyme before going into battle. Its properties are antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bactericide, cardiac, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypertensive, insecticide, stimulant, tonic.
Thyme contains phenols which will irritate mucous membranes, cause dermal irritation and may cause sensitisation in some individuals. Use in moderation and in low dilutions.
Should not be used by anyone with high blood pressure.