The healing power of wild thyme

Wild thyme crawls over the ground and then points upwards with a number of stems. The stems rarely reach higher than seven centimeters above the ground and are decorated with pink or violet flowers during flowering. This evergreen plant, related to the mint, originates from Europe and North Africa and is widely used in cooking. Wild thyme is better known to many people as small thyme. This plant belongs to the host plants. As a host plant it mainly attracts the butterflies Pempeliella dilutella and blue thyme. It is more important for humans that it is an edible herb with medicinal properties. Dried, pulverized thyme leaves can be added to seasoning salt. In phytotherapy, the science-based form of modern herbal medicine, wild thyme is used for respiratory problems and digestive problems. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of wild thyme / Source: Kilom691, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Traditional use wild thyme
  • Wild thyme on your plate
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Wild thyme for digestion
  • Wild thyme, good for the respiratory tract
  • Other medicinal effects
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use wild thyme

Thyme is related to the thymus, an organ that is close to the heart and produces the white T cells that stimulate the functioning of the immune system. The namesake who gave the same name to thyme and thymus was apparently aware that thyme activated the thymus. In the past, wild thyme was added to herb pads, alone or together with rosemary and lavender. This was found to be good for headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath and asthma. In addition, in traditional folk medicine, people drank thyme tea for stomach problems. In Tyrol and Switzerland, thyme was used to break through sorceries. Toads like to make their dens under a thyme plant and, according to popular belief, toads belonged to witches. Therefore, not everyone believed that thyme would protect you from spells.

Wild thyme on your plate

Wild thyme can be added to a salad. The leaves can also be used to make a tea. If a tea is made from it, it is advisable to pick and dry the leaves just before they bloom. In general, the taste of a tea herb improves if you dry it because a fresh herb is more difficult to impart its flavor to the tea water. Wild thyme is an excellent herb that can be used in cooking real food that is cooked slowly as it retains its flavor for a long time.


In Latin, wild thyme is called Thymus serpyllum . In Dutch we know some alternative names: Kleine thyme, Veldtijm, Kwendel, Sadonie. Furthermore, in the past it was also given the following names: Wild Marjoram, Lemon Herb and Our Lady’s Bedstraw. This is confusing because other plants also bear these names.

Active substances

The entire above-ground growing herb of wild thyme is used for phytotherapeutic purposes, with the exception of the woody parts. It contains the following important active ingredients: essential oil with the phenols carvacrol and thymol, the monoterpenes alphapinene, gammaterpinene and paracymene, the monoterpenols linalool, borneol, geraniol. alfapterpineol and terpineen-1-ol-4, tannins, the bitter substance serpyllin, flavonglycosides such as luteolin-7-glycoside and the triterpenic acids oleanol saponin and ursolic acid saponins.

Wild thyme for digestion

Wild thyme is an aromatic bittering agent that stimulates appetite. This is mainly due to the serpylline and the essential oil it contains. It has a digestive stimulant, antispasmodic and carminative effect. Herbalists can advise people to eat a lot of thyme if they suffer from one or more of the following indications:

Wild thyme, a variation with white flowers / Source: KENPEI, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Indigestion,
  • Belching,
  • Wind or flatulence,
  • Meteorism or bloating.

Wild thyme, good for the respiratory tract

The essential oils carvacrol and thymol in wild thyme have a disinfectant effect. They promote coughing up mucus. In addition, there is a relaxing effect on the respiratory tract. In phytotherapy, wild thyme is prescribed for the following indications:

  • Cough,
  • Mild bronchitis.

Other medicinal effects

  • In aromatherapy, wild thyme essential oil is used for fatigue, neurovegetative dystonia or weak nerves and cystitis or bladder infection.
  • Wild thyme is used externally by taking a bath. Sometimes it is used as a liniment; a product to rub yourself with, such as an ointment. These treatments are done because they are said to help with rheumatic conditions such as osteoarthritis, lumbago or lower back pain and sciatica.
  • Nasal congestion during a cold can be reduced by wild thyme.
  • Wounds can be treated with wild thyme.
  • Wild thyme is used as a rinse to treat mucous membrane infections in the throat and mouth.

Dose and safety

There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant.

  • Herb: You can take 6 grams of wild thyme per day to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.
  • Powdered herb: 0.5 gram to 2 grams three times a day.
  • Mother tincture: 30 drops per day.
  • Infusion or tea: a cup of tea with 2 to 3 grams of herb several times a day.

There are no known side effects of wild thyme at therapeutic doses. The only caveat is not to give wild thyme to children under three years of age because it can induce spasms of the larynx.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.