Edition 34: August 2011
Essential Oil of the Month
Virile tonic restores vigour and valour
THYME essential oil acts like a tonic stimulant; it is hot and invigorating, reinforcing the body’s yang energy.
Herbalist John Gerard classified thyme as extremely “hot and dry” for which it has long been recognised energetically. It may be used for any “cold” condition involving weakness, congestion or infection - especially of the lungs.
It tones the circulatory system, heart, digestive system, nervous system, muscles and skin, fortifying them and stimulating the whole metabolism.
It may also increase the propensity of white blood cells, increasing the power of the immune system. This is useful to fight colds, flu, infectious diseases and chills; and as a urinary antiseptic it is very helpful for cystitis and urethritis.
An effective diuretic, thyme oil increases urination and helps removal of excess water, salts and toxins from the body. Eliminating excess uric acid from the body, improves conditions such as gout, sciatica, arthritis, and rheumatism. The warmth of thyme oil may prove valuable as a local application to neuralgic and rheumatic aches, pains, sprains and sport injuries. It is also helpful for cellulite, anorexia, obesity and edema.
Thyme is anti-spasmodic by nature and eases involuntary contraction which may take place in the respiratory tract, nerves, muscles, intestines and other organs resulting in coughs, convulsions, epileptic or hysteric attacks, cramps and muscular aches, abdominal and intestinal aches.
Thyme is an ancient culinary herb that was also used medicinally by the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans, who burnt it as an aromatic fumigant to disinfect the air and prevent the spread of disease.
The name is derived from the Greek word 'thymos' that means 'perfume' and was used as an incense in Greek temples while the Egyptians used it in the embalming process.
Indigenous to the Mediterranean region of Europe, thyme today grows in temperate regions throughout the world.
Spain is the largest producer of essential oil. There are more than 300 varieties of thyme, but the essential oil is usually extracted from the plant variety thymus vulgaris by the steam distillation of the fresh flowers and leaves.
White thyme oil is a purified version of the cruder red thyme oil. Value is determined by levels of the chemotype linalool, which is milder for the skin.
Burners and vapourisers: thyme oil can be helpful with respiratory problems such as bronchitis, coughs, sinusitis and mucus congestion.
Blended massage oil: it can assist with arthritis, bronchitis, colds, flu, gout, bruises, eczema, muscular aches and pains, obesity and rheumatism.
Mouthwash and gargle: Very diluted as a mouthwash or as a gargle, thyme oil can help with gum infections, gingivitis and tonsillitis.
Application: Only after proper dilution - one per cent or less in carrier oil - thyme oil applied directly to the skin can help with animal bites and boils but use with care due to possible skin irritation. Test for sensitivity and dilute more if necessary.
Aromatherapists have long known that thyme oil is one of the most potently antiseptic essential oils. Its main component is thymol, a powerful antiseptic which is considered to be quite toxic if used improperly.
Thymol has been extensively documented for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal action.
According to Jean Valnet, MD, thyme oil kills the anthrax bacillus, the typhoid bacillus, meningococcus and the agent responsible for tuberculosis and is active against salmonella and staphylococcus bacteria.
A powerful antiseptic, thyme oil safeguards wounds and sores against infections; this is mainly due to presence of components such as caryophyllene and camphene in this essential oil.
Thyme’s anti-bacterial properties inhibit bacterial growth in and outside the body. This is particularly beneficial in dealing with bacterial infections such as B-Colitis, renal colic, bacterial infections in the genitals and urethra, intestines and respiratory system; as well as infections on the skin such as athlete’s foot.
It can be very helpful to clear skin infection or irritations that stubbornly resist other oils or treatments. It is said to clear warts including plantar warts; especially when lemon oil is added - only experience will verify this claim.
A small amount of thyme oil acts well as a cicatrisant addition to blends, which means it encourages scars and skin spots to diminish. Thyme oil may be good for the scalp, helping to treat dandruff and hair loss. The oil calms nerve pains such as shingles, fibromyalgia pain and chronic fatigue.
The thymol content of thyme essential oil works as an expectorant and cough suppressant and can be used in cough syrups for lung ailments such as bronchitis.
Its warming ability helps to eliminate mucous and phlegm. It fights respiratory infection, fortifying the lungs and helps with colds, coughs, asthma, laryngitis, sinusitis, catarrh, whooping cough, sore throats and tonsilitis.
Its antibiotic properties do not pose as a risk to the kidneys, heart, liver or stomach, as do many allopathic prescription drugs.
This oil is very beneficial for the heart as it tones and strengthens cardiac muscles, maintaining healthy valve function. It relaxes the arteries and veins and has been known as a hypertensive, beneficial for those who are suffering from low blood pressure and consequent fainting. This oil can normalise blood pressure by raising it. As a capillary stimulant thyme is also indicated for anaemia.
DID YOU KNOW?
During the Middle Ages thyme was given to jousting knights and crusaders for courage and Roman soldiers bathed in thyme before entering battle.
Thyme essential oil, being a carminative and an anti-spasmodic, settles a windy digestive system, easing stomach aches, cramps, vomiting, headaches and nausea.
It can be a stimulant for the digestive system, reduce gastric infections and ease dyspepsia. Thyme is also good for headaches caused by gastric complaints.
Thyme oil can stimulate production of certain hormones such as estrogen and demonstrates emmenagogic properties, providing relief from irregular and painful menstruation and untimely menopause.
As a vermifuge, thyme oil effectively kills worms; intestinal worms (round worms and tape worms), maggots in sores and even the difficult to dislodge hook worm. A blend of thyme, black pepper and clove is effective for such infestations.
It works well as an insecticide, repelling insects and bugs such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, bed-bugs and flies. This ability extends to the pantry and linen cupboard, where it will deter insects from the food grains and clothes.
Thyme oil is a neurotonic that strengthens the nerves in cases of nervous exhaustion, debility and anxiety. It also helps combat depression, dispelling despondency. It aids memory and enhances concentration and focus, releasing mental blocks.
Thyme closes down the psychic mind in favour of the conscious, intellectual mind.
This quality is helpful for those dreamy, detached people too immersed in their spiritual life to function proficiently in everyday, mundane life.
Thyme oil protects us from the weakness that keeps us stuck in fear and limitations. This oil restores assertiveness and morale at the deepest level; the smell confers courage, drive and thirst for action; harnessing the conscious will for the benefit of others.
It is only through our actions that we relate to the world and others and thyme oil stimulates our willpower and initiative to help us transform our deeds into right action that serve all sentient beings. It prompts us to pay attention to the effect of what we do in the spirit of conscious loving devotion, so our will is in accordance with the Divine Will.
Latin name: Thymus vulgaris
What is it? Thyme is a squat little plant that copes with arid soil and torrid heat. An evergreen perennial, it loves rocky outcrops, grows up to 45cm high, has small greenish-gray aromatic leaves and pale purple or white flowers.
Scent: Thyme has a rather peppery, pungent, herbaceous smell that is quite medicinal. Its penetrating, rather aggressive, scent means this oil is seldom used in fine perfumes and is better suited to disinfectant and purifying blends. The colour can range from pale yellow to reddish–brown.
Blends well with: Bergamot, cedarwood, chamomile, niaouli, grapefruit, lemon, lavender, rosemary and pine.
Therapeutic properties: anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, bactericidal, bechic (relieves coughing), carminative, cicatrisant (diminishes scars), diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypertensive, insecticide, stimulant, tonic and vermifuge.
Precautions: Thyme is very potent and should not be used during pregnancy or in cases of high blood pressure. Thyme should be used with caution in low concentrations due to the phenols (carvacrol and thymol), which can irritate mucus membranes and cause skin irritation. If it is used in massage therapy, it is wise to do a skin patch test to determine if the person is sensitive to it. Do not use in the bath.
What Herb is That?
Incan nerve tonic still does the job
GOLDENSEAL has gained notoriety in the modern age due to a false claim made in an early 20th Century novel.
A character in pharmacist John Uri Lloyd’s Stringtown on the Pike used goldenseal to hide arsenic posioning. Because the story was widely-known to be based on real people in Lloyd’s northern Kentucky town, the story soon turned to legend that goldenseal could mask the presence of certain illicit drugs in the bloodstream. Due to a lack of scientific evidence, this theory has been disproved.
Goldenseal is a native of Canada and the eastern United States, the chief states producing it being Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, New York and in Canada, Ontario. It is found in the rich soil of shaded woodlands.
It is a small perennial herb, with a horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow root-stock, giving off slender roots below and marked with scars of the flower-stems of previous years.
The flower is solitary, erect and small while the fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries, containing one or two hard black, shining seeds. When ripe, it has much the appearance of a raspberry (hence the name Ground Raspberry), but is not edible.
It was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat skin disorders, digestive problems, liver conditions, diarrhoea and eye irritations. They valued the root highly as a tonic treatment for inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts. It was also used as a yellow dye for their clothing and weapons.
Goldenseal became part of early colonial medical care as the European settlers learned of it from the Iroquois and other tribes.
Goldenseal was introduced into Europe in 1760. It gained widespread popularity in the early 1800s due to its promotion by charismatic herbalist Samuel Thompson, who believed goldenseal to be a magical cure-all.
So popular was it with the European settlers that it was soon over-collected and now has to be specially cultivated to protect the herb from extinction.
Botanists and scientists are working together to farm and cultivate goldenseal in woodland areas and meet the demand without endangering it further. The price has accordingly remained high for this herb.
Golden seal is a great spring tonic that stimulates the immune function, purifies the blood and normalises digestion. It is a sedative to the central nervous system and the active constituent hydrastine is a stimulant to the autonomic nervous system.
Goldenseal has a powerful tonic action on the mucous membranes of the body and is used for infections of the mouth, sinuses, throat, the intestines, stomach, urinary tract and vagina.
Golden Seal is often recommended in combination with echinacea for the treatment of colds, flu and sinus and chest congestion and can also be used as an expectorant. As a tea or tincture, goldenseal can be used as a mouthwash or gargle for mouth sores and sore throats.
Due to its potent anti-microbial and antibiotic activity, golden seal is a superb wound healer that also treats fungal infections of the skin, open sores, inflammations, eczema, ringworm and many skin diseases. Under professional supervision, it may be used for middle-ear congestion, catarrhal deafness and tinnitus; and as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.
Goldenseal is a bitter tonic helpful for liver troubles as it stimulates the secretion and flow of bile. It may be used to treat states of depressed digestion associated with liver disorder or sensitivity.
It also has strong activity against a variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, such as E. coli and candida when taken internally. Goldenseal is a valuable remedy for digestive disorders such as such as gastritis, ulceration, colitis, dyspepsia, gastric catarrh and with its special astringent action on the mucous membranes, for chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum.
The alkaloid hydrastine in Golden Seal is wonderfully astringent for haemorrhoids. It is of value in cases of habitual constipation when given as a powder, combined with other aromatics; it is also employed in loss of appetite and as bitter stimulant for anorexia. It can serve as an efficient remedy for sickness and vomiting.
Its tonic and astringent actions are helpful for uterine conditions such as heavy bleeding (menorrhagia and haemorrhage.) It also helps reduce menopausal symptoms and can ease pre-menstrual syndromes linked with stagnation.
Latin name: Hydrastis canadensis
Common names: yellow root, orange root, puccoon, ground raspberry, wild curcuma.
Properties: Tonic, astringent, antiseptic, antihaemorrhagic, antimicrobial, anti-catarrhal, mild laxative, cholagogue, (stimulates bile) alterative, (blood cleanser) stimulant to autonomic nervous system and involuntary muscle, stomachic, oxytocic, bitter digestive stimulant, haemostatic, (stops bleeding) anti-inflammatory, healing to the gut wall and other mucous membranes, sedative to central nervous system, stimulating adjunct to remedies for the lungs, reproductive tract and kidneys.
Precautions: Goldenseal should not be taken by pregnant women. One of goldenseal's chief constituents, berberine, has been reported to cause uterine contractions and to increase levels of bilirubin. Goldenseal should not be used by people with high blood pressure. Those with heart conditions should only use goldenseal under the supervision of a health professional. Side effects are rare, but include irritation of the mouth and throat, nausea, increased nervousness, and digestive problems. The liquid forms of goldenseal are yellow-orange and can stain.