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Thyme for Coughs

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

So we are well into the season of getting an annoying cough! There are plenty of things sold for this, but one of the things I find most effective is something you will likely find in your kitchen cupboard: thyme (Thymus vulgaris).

Thyme has traditionally been used for coughs and colds, chest infections, tightness in the chest and asthma, and it is greatly thought of as a tonic for the lungs. It has other uses too however: it can be used as a mouthwash for bad breath; as a gargle for a sore throat (although for a sore throat I would tend to favor sage, another kitchen cupboard herb); for aiding poor digestion; and as a mildly stimulating general tonic.

Scientific studies have shown support for the antimicrobial effect of thyme as well as its ability to give certain aspects of the immune system a boost. I cannot find any clinical studies that have been performed on thyme on its own, but there have been placebo controlled studies done on thyme in combination with either primrose root or ivy leaf. These were done on people suffering from acute bronchitis (with a cough), and showed very positive results compared to placebo.

So why not give a cup of thyme tea a try?

Tips for getting the best results:

  • Use the best quality herbs you can find – dried naturally and preferably organic.
  • Use one teaspoon per cup of boiling water.
  • Make sure you cover the tea while it is brewing, otherwise the important essential oils float off with the steam.
  • You can add honey to it to make it more soothing and taste nicer.
  • Always drink it warm, the heat is helpful for coughs and colds.
  • NOTE: this is not a replacement for medical attention where needed. Any long-term coughs should be checked out by a doctor.

Mark Jack MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

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