Thyme's curative powers have been valued for upwards of a thousand years. The herb has been used successfully for skin and circulatory disorders and is an excellent antiseptic and tonic. Its essential oil is obtained through steam distillation. Approximately 143 pounds of flowering thyme plants are required to make 1 pint of oil.
Thyme contains thymol, carvacrol and flavonoids which are all beneficial for breaking up congestion, stopping coughing, calming bronchial spasms, and stimulating respiration. Thymol is also sometimes used as a topical antifungal medication.
Thymol also strengthens the immune system and has an antibacterial effect. Thymol is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash!
Thyme oil is most often found as either red thyme oil or white thyme oil. Red thyme oil is the strongest; it is produced after one distillation from the raw plant material. White thyme oil is produced from distilling the red thyme oil even further. There are many varieties of thyme, and some are less toxic than others. Lemon thyme and those called linalol are generally non-irritating and can be used directly on the skin in small amounts.
Because thyme oil is believed to loosen mucus and promote expectoration, the aroma, when inhaled in the proper amounts and dilutions, helps to subdue infections in the respiratory tract. It also works its effects through absorption by the skin. Because there are many types of thyme and not all can be used safely, use this oil with great care. Like all essential oils, thyme oil should never be taken internally.
One half to one tsp of thyme extract may be taken daily. One tsp of dried herb in a cup of hot water can be taken three times a day. A few drops of thyme oil can be used in vaporizers and steam inhalers.
Again, do not take thyme oil internally, as it can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting and muscle weakness.