Turning to Folklore we get some clues into what Thyme’s Inner Nature might be. In ancient Greece, public baths used herb-scented steam, and herbs, according to their significance, were rubbed onto specific body parts of the bathers. Mint the scent of strength, was rubbed onto the arms, while thyme, the symbol of courage and virtue, was rubbed onto a man’s breast. During the Middle Ages, ladies embroidered thyme on scarves they gave to their knights before they departed for the Crusades which supported the belief that Thyme, like Rosemary, was a herb of fidelity.
In today’s fast-paced, complex world there are often occasions where we are called on to display courage. Sometimes it is physical courage, while at others it is moral or emotional courage, but regardless of the circumstances, I often find that a drop or two of Thyme in the blend will help support one in the time of need. I have also found Thyme to be a great addition to blends that are created to provide support and protection.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris ct Linalool)
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Plant Description: A hardy perennial evergreen sub-shrub that grows up to 18 inches high, with small, gray-green, oval, aromatic leaves and pale purple or white flowers.
History/Folklore: According to Greek mythology, thyme developed from the teardrops of Helen of Troy. Thyme has a very long history of being used to flavour food and aid with digestion. Before refrigeration, thyme was added to meat to preserve it and prevent spoilage. Thyme is listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia and is well known to fight infection and improve immunity.
Extraction: The oil is obtained through steam distillation of the fresh or partially dried leaves and flowering tops.
Aroma: Warm, spicy-herbaceous, penetrating, green.
Odour intensity: High.
Perfume Note: Middle.
Blends well with: Bergamot, lemon, rosemary, Melissa, lavender, marjoram, pine and spice oils.
Perfume Key Qualities: Stimulating, restorative, warming, reviving, refreshing.
Chemistry: (Thyme ct linalool) Esters (40%); Alcohols (54%); Sesquiterpenes (4%); Phenols (2%). This is the Thyme I recommend using in Aromatherapy.
Thyme ct Phenol Red/White Thyme contains Phenols (40%); Monoterpenes (25%); Ketones (9%); Oxides (4%) and I don’t recommend its use in general aromatherapy.
Cautions: Sweet Thyme is a much gentler oil than Red/White Thyme and is generally considered safe to use. Red/White Thyme can be a strong skin irritant and should be avoided in pregnancy.
On a physical level Thyme has been used in skin care acne, burns, wound healing and hair loss: as well as for respiratory conditions such for bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, laryngitis and sinusitis; It is a good analgesic and is helpful for boosting the immune system.
On a psychological level, it has been used for general fatigue, depression, insomnia, headaches and stress-related tiredness.
On a subtle level, Thyme relieves fear and apathy. It can help to clear energy blockages. It also promotes self-confidence and courage.
In Dr. Bruce Berkowsky’s Spiritual PhytoEssencing, Thyme has a theme of validation through work. He says that the Thyme individual’s “hard worker” trait is undoubtedly motivated by a complex interaction of emotional and practical needs. However, the need for self-validation – the need to overcome opposition and feelings of inadequacy and to pre-emptively deflect wounding criticism, is prominent.
Reference Steffen Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, 1960 Salvatore Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils ©1998-2018 Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc. Tony Burfield, Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours & Origins, 2000 Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol V, 1948 reprinted 1972 Beverley Hawkins, Essential Oils and Carriers, Aromatherapy 101, Aromatherapy 201, Aromatherapy 301, 1999-2018 Alec Lawless: Artisan Perfumery or Being Led by the Nose, 2009, Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, 1995 Vivian A. Rich, Cursing the Basil and other Folklore of the Garden, 1998 Jennifer Peace Rhind, Fragrance and Wellbeing, Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche, 2014 Steflitsch, Wolz, Buchbauer, Aromatherapie in Wissenschaft und Praxis, 2013 Tisserand and Young, 2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, 2014 Valeria Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Heavens, 1999 Valerie Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Pharmacy, London, Bantam Books, 1991 Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, New World Library, Novato, California, 1991, 2016