Tuft-forming evergreen herb growing to a height of 3 in (7 cm). Has square stems, small aromatic oval leaves, and spikes of bright mauve flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe, thyme prefers heaths, moorland, and barren places. The herb is collected when in flower in summer.
Wild thyme contains a volatile oil (with thymol, carvacrol and linalool), flavonoids, caffeic acid, tannins, and resin. The volatile oil’s properties are similar to, but less potent than, those of thyme oil (from Thymus vulgaris).
History & Folklore
The 17th-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper advised taking wild thyme to treat internal bleeding, coughing, and vomiting. He noted that “it comforts and strengthens the head, stomach, reins [ureters] and womb, expels wind and breaks the stone.” Carolus Linnaeus, the 18th-century Swedish naturalist, used the plant to treat headaches and hangovers.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Like its close relative thyme (Thymus vulgaris), wild thyme is antiseptic and anti-fungal. It may be taken as an infusion or syrup to treat flu and colds, sore throats, coughs, whooping cough, chest infections, and bronchitis. Wild thyme has anti-congestion properties and helps clear a stuffy nose, sinusitis, ear congestion, and related complaints.
It has been used to expel threadworms and roundworms in children, and is used to settle gas and colic. Wild thyme’s antispasmodic action makes it useful in relieving period pain. Externally, it may be applied as a poultice to treat mastitis (inflammation of the breast), and an infusion may be used as a wash to help heal wounds and ulcers. Wild thyme is also used in herbal baths and pillows.
See thyme (T. vulgaris).