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20 Health Benefits of Thyme Tea & 4 Potential Risks

Thyme is one of the most popular herbs on the planet, as it adds remarkable flavor and odor to a wide range of dishes. But did you know that the aromatic thyme is a lot more than just a delicious addition to your food? Here you’ll find all of the health benefits of thyme tea.

Thyme tea is a fragrant beverage brewed from the leaves of the thyme plant and has been a household staple for centuries.

Besides being a delicious drink to enjoy between meals or in the morning, it’s also a medicinal plant that boasts a surprising number of health benefits.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about thyme tea, including fun facts about it and how to prepare it.

What Thyme Tea Is: Interesting Facts

What Thyme Tea Is: Interesting Facts

For centuries, cultures from various parts of the world have consumed thyme, whether as a herb, oil, or brewed tea.

So before diving into the health benefits of this herb, let’s take a quick look at the rich history of this unique beverage and explore the reasons thyme amassed such remarkable popularity.

Origin and Where Thyme Tea Comes From

Origin and Where Thyme Tea Comes From

Thyme is a member of the mint family, which is native to the Mediterranean and Levant region.

However, you should also know that thyme isn’t a single herb but an entire genus that includes a variety of species, which are spread across various regions around the globe.

The plant’s use as a culinary herb and medicinal plant dates back to ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Sumerians, and Romans.

Thyme was first pulverized and added to food, but brewing it into teas was also one of the earliest forms of using the herb.

What Thyme Tea Is Made of

What Thyme Tea Is Made of

Thyme tea is a flavorful yet simple beverage, as it’s made by infusing different parts of the herb into water.

The most common part to be used while making thyme tea is the leaves. However, you can also steep entire thyme sprigs in pots and get similar results.

Dried thyme leaves can also be used, though fresh thyme typically offers a more vibrant flavor.

Additionally, you can use whole fresh leaves or grind them up and pack them into tea bags, which are now sold commercially for easy access to thyme tea.

What Thyme Tea Tastes Like

What Thyme Tea Tastes Like

Thyme tea boasts a complex taste profile, which is often described as slightly intense and quite woody.

However, the most unique aspect of thyme tea is actually its aroma, as it offers a warm, herbaceous scent with slightly peppery and earthy notes.

The main ingredient responsible for this distinctive, lingering camphorous scent is thymol, which is also the primary essential oil extracted from thyme leaves and responsible for the vast majority of its health benefits.

Keep in mind that the exact flavor and aroma of thyme tea depends on the variety and chemical composition of thyme you’re using, as each species contains different ratios of essential oils, leading to a slight change of profile.

Nutritional Facts and Calories of Thyme Tea

Nutritional Facts and Calories of Thyme Tea

While it’s not a significant source of calories or nutrients, thyme still contains some vitamins and minerals that can be extracted into the tea by steeping.

The drink has an extremely low caloric impact, with the average cup containing as little as 0.8 calories. Of course, adding sugar, honey, or other calorie-dense sweeteners increases the total number of calories per serving.

Besides calories, thyme tea is rich in a variety of minerals and natural active chemicals that are responsible for the beverage’s various health claims. Here’s a brief overview of the most notable ones:

  • Vitamins: These mainly include retinol (vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Minerals: These include including iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, and selenium

One thing to note here is that thyme tea doesn’t contain any significant macronutrients, as it has zero fats and proteins along with negligible amounts of carbohydrates and fibers.

Health Benefits of Thyme Tea

Health Benefits of Thyme Tea

Throughout the ages, thyme tea has been used to treat a wide range of medical conditions and improve various aspects of health. In the following section, we’ll discuss some of the most popular health benefits associated with thyme tea:

Soothes Cough and Cold Symptoms

Soothes Cough and Cold Symptoms

Thyme tea has been used as a natural remedy for cough since the dawn of civilization. The main reason why this works is that thyme tea is rich in thymol, which is medically classified as an expectorant.

Thymol simply helps in loosening phlegm stuck in the respiratory tract, removing the irritation that causes acute cough.

Strengthens Immunity

Strengthens Immunity

As previously established, thyme is also rich in vitamin C, which is a key component in the development of the immune system by increasing the rate of white blood cell production.

These cells are responsible for fighting off infections and recovering from their associated diseases. Keep in mind that vitamin C is heat sensitive, so the medical value of teas could be somewhat inferior to fresh thyme.

Clears Acne and Skin

Clears Acne and Skin

One of the most surprising effects of thyme tea is treating acne. This is mainly thanks to the herb’s potential anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.

In fact, there are some natural facial creams and moisturizers that contain thyme extracts to benefit from these effects, although research is still ongoing on the effectiveness of these creams.

Helps with Nasal Congestion

Cough isn’t the only way thyme supports respiratory health, as it can also provide relief from nasal congestion. The decongestant effect of thyme is achieved as a combination of thymol’s mucus-clearing, antibacterial, and antispasmodic actions.

Facilitates Relaxation and Sleep

Facilitates Relaxation and Sleep

Although thyme doesn’t specifically have sleep-promoting ingredients like lavender and chamomile, a lot of people still drink it for its calming properties. This is because people find the minty aroma of thyme quite relaxing and soothing.

Additionally, some studies show that thyme has a muscle relaxant effect, which can ease tension and help the body enter a state of relaxation before sleep.

This effect doesn’t only reduce the impact of insomnia, but it could also help you sleep better and wake up well-rested.

Improves Heart Health

Improves Heart Health

Thyme can contribute to heart health in a variety of ways. For instance, studies show that thyme extract managed to lower blood pressure in laboratory rats significantly.

This suggests that it can extend its antihypertensive properties to humans suffering from high blood pressure.

Additionally, other studies show that thyme can lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risks of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Moreover, since thyme is rich in antioxidants it can reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, especially when combined with a healthy diet.

Eases Mood & Anxiety

Eases Mood & Anxiety

As previously established, the scent of thyme tea is believed to be quite calming and soothing for a lot of people. However, scientific research shows that there’s more to this effect than just the relaxing aroma.

For instance, a study on the effects of inhaling thyme vapors showed that it induced relaxation and reduced anxiety scores when compared to a control group.

Prevents Bacterial Infections

In addition to the main ingredient of thyme, the herbal tea also contains ingredients like carvacrol and borneol, which are phenolic compounds known for their ability to fight microbes and bacteria responsible for many infections.

Even when thyme doesn’t directly combat infections in the body (in out-of-reach organs), these ingredients contribute to building an overall stronger defense system against these infections.

Fights Fungal Infections

Fights Fungal Infections

Similar to thyme tea’s effects in combating bacterial infections, it has shown remarkable antifungal activity in some laboratory studies.

For instance, a recent study revealed that thymol and p-cymene-rich oil extract were effective in eradicating Cryptococcus neoformans.

This fungus is a pathogen that exists all over the world and causes a fatal lung infection known as “cryptococcosis”. Additionally, thyme oil was included in other combinations used commercially to treat fungal infections.

Preserves Eye Health

Thyme is a great source of vitamin A, which is an essential compound that our body needs to maintain healthy eyesight. The vitamin is responsible for preserving the cornea and protecting the lining of the outer surface of the eyes.

Additionally, vitamin A is essential for preventing various eye-related conditions, including night blindness and xerophthalmia (a condition that causes severe eye dehydration.)

Helps in Weight Loss

Helps in Weight Loss

A lot of herbal teas have been associated with weight loss when used correctly, including thyme tea.

The thymol in thyme oil helps you control your weight by potentially revving up your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories over the day.

That being said, you should keep in mind that thyme tea isn’t a magical solution to weight loss, as it needs to be combined with a healthy diet and consistent exercise or physical activity to offer its full effects.

Key Component in Aromatherapy

Key Component in Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that relies on using essential oils from plants for therapeutic purposes.

These oils are inhaled or applied topically to the skin to promote relaxation, improve mood, and even ease certain health conditions.

Thyme tea is commonly used in aromatherapy through inhaling the steam it releases during the steeping process. This technique is said to improve energy levels, promote relaxation, and alleviate anxiety.

Supports Bone Health

Supports Bone Health

This one may sound like a surprise, but it’s actually backed by plenty of scientific evidence. As we previously established, thyme is a natural source of several minerals, including iron and manganese.

These minerals are essential for musculoskeletal development by increasing bone depth. Also, several studies show that supplementation with thyme slows down bone loss and osteoporosis.

Promotes Hair Quality and Health

Thyme oil is packed with beneficial compounds like apigenin and apigenin-7-glucoside. These flavonoids are well-known for their anti-dandruff properties when applied topically to the scalp, as they reduce flaky skin caused by inflammation.

Drinking thyme tea enriches your system with these ingredients and helps nourish your hair for an enhanced growth rate by stimulating the follicles.

Supports Gums & Teeth

Supports Gums & Teeth

Since thyme tea has antimicrobial properties, it can inhibit the growth and spread of harmful bacteria in the mouth while drinking it.

This includes oral bacteria that can create cavities and tooth decay like Streptococcus mutans as well as bacteria that contribute to the development of gingivitis when left unchecked like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

Aids in Cancer Prevention

Aids in Cancer Prevention

Of course, thyme tea on its own isn’t a cure for a serious condition like cancer. However, it can be a valuable asset when it comes to preventing the disease.

Here’s how it goes: Our bodies produce unstable molecules called “free radicals” during regular cell processes, especially as we age.

Combined with oxidative stress, these free radicals can potentially damage healthy cells and impair their ability to fix themselves, developing malignant tumors and cancer.

However, the antioxidants in thyme tea are able to neutralize those free radicals, eliminating their threat and reducing the risk of cancer when consumed consistently.

Improves Digestive Health

Improves Digestive Health

After drinking thyme tea, the smooth muscles of the digestive tract relax, which allows the trapped gasses in the digestive tract to be expelled from the body.

This eases the discomforts associated with poor digestion, such as flatulence and bloating.

These antispasmodic properties of thyme tea can also be particularly helpful for those who experience cramping or abdominal pain related to indigestion.

Thyme’s anti-inflammatory properties also play a role in improving digestion by potentially reducing inflammation in the gut lining, which soothes irritation and discomfort.

Enhances Renal and Hepatic Functions

Enhances Renal and Hepatic Functions

The health benefits of the compounds that make up thyme oil can also improve the functions of essential organs in the body, such as the liver and the kidney.

These effects are mostly due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the herbal beverage, and various studies suggest that consuming thyme tea regularly might contribute to improved hepatic and renal functions.

Supports Diabetes Management

In a recent study, researchers investigated the hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) properties of thyme in diabetic rats. Compared to untreated diabetic rats, those given a combination of thyme, honey, and olive oil showed a reduction in blood glucose levels.

These findings suggest that thyme tea could be used to manage some forms of diabetes if further research is done to understand its effects better.

Reduces Cramps and Menstrual Pain

Reduces Cramps and Menstrual Pain

The smooth muscle relaxant effect of thyme tea isn’t only exclusive to the digestive system, as it can also alleviate other forms of painful muscle spasms, such as menstrual cramps.

In fact, many women find thyme tea particularly effective in reducing the pain associated with periods since the warmth of the tea also helps in relaxing the muscles.

Potential Risks

Potential Risks

While thyme tea offers a range of potential benefits, it’s important to be aware that it may also possess potential side effects, especially if you consume large amounts or have certain health conditions.

Luckily, these risks are typically quite limited and uncommon, so you don’t have to worry about them if you only drink about 2 to 3 cups of thyme tea per day.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic Reactions

People with hypersensitivity to other members of the mint family, such as oregano or sage, are typically allergic to the rest of the herbs of this family, including thyme.

In that case, it’s typically advised to avoid drinking thyme tea or add it to your food.

The allergic symptoms of drinking thyme tea are usually limited to skin irritation/rash, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which typically go away on their own.

However, if you experience shortness of breath, it might be a sign of anaphylactic shock, so you must seek emergency healthcare as soon as possible.

Stomach Upsets

Stomach Upsets

Besides allergies, thyme may also cause stomach upset associated with some discomfort or even pain in some individuals.

This relatively rare side effect is typically reported when thyme tea is consumed in large amounts on an empty stomach, so you can avoid it by consuming less thyme tea per day.

Dizziness

As previously mentioned, thyme tea promotes muscle relaxation. However, too much relaxation can make you feel a bit dizzy. If you feel a bit light-headed after drinking thyme tea, you should limit it to before bedtime and avoid driving or operating tools after drinking it.

Headaches

Headaches

While some people find thyme tea a treatment for mild pain like headaches, others reported that it worsens their headache symptoms, especially migraines.

According to studies, the reason behind this side effect is that thyme activates certain receptors in the body, including the TRPA1 channel, which is associated with triggering migraine in predisposed individuals.

Is Thyme Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

Is Thyme Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

The FDA recognizes thyme as generally safe when consumed in the amounts typically found in cooking. In other words, flavoring your meals with a dash of thyme should be a concern for a pregnant woman.

Similarly, consuming thyme tea is typically believed to be safe in various studies and research.

However, its safety hasn’t been fully established when consumed in medicinal amounts. This means that it’s okay to enjoy a cup of thyme tea every now and then, but you should typically avoid drinking it several times a day.

In addition to pregnancy, doctors also recommend that you stop using thyme tea around 2 weeks before any surgery because it has a mild blood thinning effect.

How to Make Thyme Tea: A Simple Guide

How to Make Thyme Tea: A Simple Guide

Now that you know more about thyme tea and its potential health benefits, you might be interested in finding out more about its ideal preparation method.

While there are various ways to make thyme tea, the following guide will explain the most convenient way to enjoy this healthy beverage.

First, you should prepare the following ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of filtered water (you can use tap water but filtered water ensures untainted flavor)
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or around 1 ½ teaspoons of dried thyme)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey or your favorite sweetener to taste (optional)

Here’s how to turn these ingredients into a delicious cup of thyme tea:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a kettle or pot.
  2. Place the thyme sprigs or dried leaves in a mug or a serving cup. You can also use a teapot if you’re preparing a large batch. This should be a good time to add any ingredients that also require steeping.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the thyme
  4. Cover the mug or teapot and allow the thyme to steep for around 5 to 8 minutes. The longer you leave it, the stronger the thyme flavor will be.
  5. Add the honey or sweetener to your tea.

Tips for Drinking and Serving Thyme Tea

Tips for Drinking and Serving Thyme Tea

Besides being a healthy drink, thyme tea is also remarkably easy to prepare. That being said, you can still improve your experience significantly by checking out the following tips and tricks.

Combine Thyme with Ginger and Lemon

This adds a zingy twist to the drink in addition to boosting the tea’s immune-supporting effects. In fact, the combination of ginger, lemon, and thyme has been used as traditional remedies for cold and sore throats for ages.

Add Honey to Thyme Tea

Add Honey to Thyme Tea

Although thyme is quite effective, not everyone finds its flavor attractive on its own, and that’s where honey comes in handy. It balances the earthy flavor of thyme and provides a touch of sweetness while boosting the nutritional value of the drink.

Drink Thyme Tea One Hour Before Sleep

While you can drink thyme tea almost any time you want, one of the best times to enjoy it is an hour before bedtime. This is because it takes around 45 to 60 minutes for the relaxing effect of thyme to kick in.

Try Different Thyme Varieties

Try Different Thyme Varieties

Thyme comes in a huge range of varieties that may vary in flavor profile. If you enjoy the flavor of thyme, consider exploring different varieties and their flavors to settle on the ideal one for you.

Dried Thyme Works Too

Although fresh thyme is ideal for the maximum flavor, dried thyme typically has a similar chemical composition. In other words, if you’re mainly drinking thyme for its health benefits, both should be fine for you.

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