Thyme, Turkey & Treason
Thanksgiving is next week and that means “time” with family and friends but the history of Thyme, Turkey and Treason goes back thousands of years.
Once upon a time, during the Roman empire, there was possibly only 1 genus species of this amazing herb. It was the Romans who distributed the plant all over their empire and with pollination and nature blending we now have many varieties all over the world.
The Romans believed that eating thyme either before or during a meal would protect them from poison so you can only imagine how much was planted. Especially considering it was a common practice back then to poison whoever had fallen out of favor.
The political climate and strife between wealthy, aristocratic Roman elites was intense during those times and poisoning became a favorite for those who wanted to kill unquestioned and without a trace. That’s a lot of Thyme to plant! How can we forget Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Emperor Claudius?
In reality, it wasn’t so much that people were running around poisoning each other as it was the times in which they lived, unless you were a political elitist. This single herb would never have been able to single-handedly stopped many of the issues of that day because they were looking in the wrong direction.
Some have suggested lead poisoning led to the fall of the Roman Empire through its abundant use in aqueducts, water pipes, household implements, and medicine, but it is really true or simple exaggerations? Who knows!
Now, in ancient Greece, if a person was told they smelled of Thyme it was considered a compliment. Thyme was a symbol of bravery – thymos meaning “strength” so you can imagine how flattered someone would be if they received this compliment =)
It was the early Greeks who learned how to use Thyme, its medicinal values and they recorded their findings. Thyme's origins are logged by history and culture and has been used for: religious purposes, flavoring in foods, as tea, a food preservative, in cures against the Black Plague (4 thieves’ vinegar) and has even been a part of the Worlds pharmacopoeia. I can’t find when it was removed but that is also the way of the USP when it comes to herbs.
Today it is the French Thyme that most of us cook with and with Thanksgiving next week I can only imagine all of the yummy recipes everyone will be enjoying!
The early Greeks learned to use Thyme for:
Nervous conditions: Thyme acts as a sedative which is nice during stressful times and in some cases stressful family gatherings. Wonderful for headaches and hangovers but don’t forget, turkey and tryptophan also make for a wonderful sedative. HAHAHA
Respiratory issues: As an anti-spasmodic it has been found to be helpful in cases of asthma and pertussis (whooping cough), those with a history of use for shortness of breath. Thyme in tea form and possibly in oil form has been known to break up the mucus stuck in the head, lungs and bronchioles. (Bronchitis, lung congestion) (anti-viral and bacterial). As a gargle or infused into honey it can nicely soothe a sore throat.
As an expectorant, it makes for a wonderful herb to grow in your gardens and preserve for cold and flu season, bread making, and cooking!
GI complaints: Thyme is also an anti-spasmodic so it works to calm stomach cramps and Gi issues.
Wonderful to have at Thanksgiving when you’ve eaten more than possible or tried out your great Aunts new recipe. Ha! It has been useful in cases of: diarrhea, gas, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Uterine and bowel problems: As with GI issues, the anti-spasmodic properties of Thyme also help relive spasms and encourage menstruation.
Skin Issues: Thyme has been found to be a good tissue cleaner and helpful in wound healing. Topically is can be used for yeast and fungal infections like ringworm, athletes’ foot. Other topical skin conditions would include scabies, crabs and lice. I wonder what else the Romans and found out?
As a disinfectant & germicide: The volatile oil Thymol is one of mother nature’s most powerful antiseptics. It is strongly antimicrobial and has traditionally been used for many types of bacterial and viral infections. It can be used in mouth washes and toothpaste for sore, inflamed gums, or minor mouth infections. Thymol is wonderful for protecting teeth from decay and is best-known for its use in Listerine
So, this Thanksgiving be sure to remember your Thyme and have a wonderful Time!