Creeping Thyme Identification: A small, shrubby perennial which grows up to 6 inches tall. Numerous, thin, somewhat woody stems form a flat mat. The leaves are tiny, (to 3/8 inch long), opposite, oval, entire (not toothed), and short-stalked. The flowers are small, purple or (rarely) white, clustered at the ends of the branches.
Family: Labiatae (Mint Family)
Other Names: Mother of Thyme, Wild Thyme
Flowers: July – August
Parts Used: Leaves
Habitat: Found in thickets and woods and along roadsides. Is native to Europe and naturalized in North America.
Cultivation: Easily grown in average, dry to medium wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Does not like wet soils where the roots will rot. Cut back stems as necessary to maintain plant appearance or to control growth. The plant is evergreen in mild winters.
Constituents: Volatile oil (about 1%, consisting of phenol, thymol, carvacrol), monoterpene hydrocarbons (eg terpintine) and alcohols (eg linalool), tannin, flavonoids and saponins.
Properties: Anthelmintic, antioxidant, strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, deodorant, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, sedative and tonic.
Main Uses: Both major components of the volatile oil, thymol and carvacrol ( but particularly the former) are antibacterial and antifungal. Thymol also expels worms, especially hookworms and ascarids. (It also kills mosquito larvae.) As a gargle or mouthwash, thyme is an excellent remedy for sore throats and infected gums. In hot infusion, thyme tea is sweat-inducing and so is effective against the common cold. Because its volatile oil is partly excreted through the lungs, it is also good for bronchitis. It is often used to treat whooping cough too. Thyme has a marked expectorant effect causing the coughing up of viscid mucus.
Thyme tea eases flatulence and soothes the digestive system. This is due to the antispasmodic effect of the volatile oil on smooth muscle.
Externally, baths of thyme (see Hydrotherapy) are used to ease rheumatic pains and the oil is often used in liniments and message oils. An ointment made from thyme is used to treat shingles (Herpes zoster).
CAUTION! Although the plant in medicinal doses is safe, the isolated volatile oil is toxic in any quantity and should not be used internally except by professionals. Avoid this remedy if you are pregnant.
Oil is highly irritating to the skin.
Harvest: The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled or dried for later use.
Preparation and Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1/2 teaspoon fresh herb or 1 teaspoon dried herb in 1/2 cup water for 3 to 5 minutes. Take 1 to 1-1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time.
Tincture or Extract: Take 10 to 20 drops, three times a day.