This is one of the best herbs for phlegmy coughs, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory ailments.  And a great herb for the digestive system too.

Thyme Barefoot HerbsIf you only have a small amount of space for a herb garden, this is one of the herbs recommend you plant as it has so many uses and is not limited to the kitchen. (See The First 10 Herbs to Plant in Your Garden)

There are more than 350 varieties of thyme and, as they hybridize easily, new names are being added all the time. The majority of thymes are decorative and popular in gardens as they are evergreen, mostly low growing, sweet scented and neat. Several of the thymes are used for culinary, household, cosmetic and decorative purposes, but Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is the primary one used for medicine.

It has a long history of use, with Ancient Greeks using it to improve vigour and courage, the Scots using it for strength, courage and to prevent nightmares, and there is a 1663 British recipe combining it with beer to make a soup, with the incredible power to overcome shyness.  The Egyptians used it for embalming, and it is one of the ingredients of modern embalming fluid.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons for it being associated with the souls of the dead.


Thyme jelly Barefoot LifeI think common thyme has the best flavour, especially for long, slow cooked meals like soups and stews.  ‘Bouquet garni’ is made with common thyme, parsley and a bay leaf, and is possibly one of the best know herb combinations in western food preparation.

Lemon thyme (Thymus x citrodorus) has an amazing aroma and lovely with steamed vegetables and makes a fabulous liqueur.

I’m not keen on thymes in salads as the leaves are too chewy, although I do use it in salad dressings which I strain before adding to the salad.

It is often added to marinades and chutneys, and you should definitely try this ‘Thyme Jelly’ which is a sort of smooth marmalade, with a savoury aspect due to the thyme.  It is perfect with cheese and delicious if you toss sweet potatoes in it before roasting them.

Other popular culinary thymes are Caraway Thyme (Thymus herba-barona) Spanish Sauce Thyme (Thymus zygis), Winter Flowering Thyme (Thymus hyemalis) and Oregano Scented Thyme (T. pulegioides)

Medicinal Uses

Thyme cough syrup, Barefoot HerbsThyme is a powerful herbal medicine especially for the respiratory and digestive systems.  It is used to treat chest infections, coughs (especially with excess mucous), asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, sore throats, diarrhoea, indigestion, sore muscles and arthritic pain.  As it is also anti-fungal it is a very effective treatment for athlete’s foot, and it is antiseptic so useful for wound healing.  Here is a recipe for a thyme cough syrup and thyme foot soak for aching feet and foot infections, including athlete’s foot.







Make an antiseptic room spray that smells awesome.  Use it to wipe down counters in the kitchen and bathroom.  Place leaves amongst books to prevent mould. Combine thyme, lavender, rosemary and lemon verbena, place into small bags and keep with bedding or other linen.  This will prevent mould, insects and keep everything smelling sweet.

Body Care

Thyme foot salts Barefoot HerbsA thyme facial steam is good for healing acne.  A strong decoction used as a mouth rinse will heal mouth sores.  Try this ‘Thyme Foot Soak’ for smelly or aching feet.










A good companion plant for most vegetables.

Loved by bees, and thyme honey is one of the most prized flavours



Have you got a herb garden?  If you would like to start one, have a look at these books

The First 10 Herbs to Plant in A Herb Garden – Quick Guide

Create a Culinary Herb Garden – e-book

The First 9 Herbs – Handy Info Sheet

Or, if you are in Gauteng, I am happy to come and install one for you!


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