I was exploring the garden after the rain as is full of surprises; raindrops clinging to stems, snails galore and summer fruits gleaming, freshly washed and ready to pick. I noticed the Thyme nestled against Sage and Mint in a pot near my back door, it had flowered and it got me thinking of the essential oil – Thymus vulgaris. This oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves, and can have a powerful, medicated herbaceous odour or a soft, sweet, woody aroma depending upon which variety you use. There are many different types of Thyme – red, white, sweet, Moroccan, wild – and they have different chemical compositions. I’m focussing here on Red Thyme (Thymus vulagris thymoliferum) which is rich in PHENOL making it a powerful antiseptic and pain killer. Folk tradition sees Thyme being used by ancient Egyptians during the embalming process and in ancient Greece against infectious diseases. In fact, the Greek word Thymos means ‘to perfume’ and it has traditionally been used to preserve meat. Thyme is a good painkiller, it can be used for tooth ache, gum infections as well as musco-skeletal conditions such as arthritis and sports injuries. Thyme is also described as ‘wound healing’ and can be used for most skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, insect bites, acne and burns. Having said that, it can cause skin irritation so should be used with care and diluted properly; if you have concerns, consult a qualified Aromatherapist before use. It is a stimulating oil, it gets things moving in your body, boosting your immune system, increasing blood flow so great for poor circulation, raising your blood pressure. It is an expectorant, mucolytic, and decongestant so good to use if you have asthma, bronchitis, coughs, sore throats. Who knew such a humble herb had such a big personality! It blends beautifully with citrus oils such as Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin as well as Rosemary, Lavender, Tea tree, Marjoram, Juniper. It should not be used in pregnancy, and avoided if you have sensitive skin, low blood pressure or taking immunosuppressants.
Synergy. What does it mean? Essential oil blending is all about creating synergy – getting the oils to work together whether it is aromatically, therapeutically, or philosophically. Jennifer Peace Rhind (2016) writes that “synergistic blending is at the very heart of aromatherapy practice.” Put simply, creating an oil combination which does its job. Essential oils contain active ingredients so when we add 2 or more oils together, the outcome can be different to when the oils are applied singly. There is a growing body of evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of synergy. For example, a recent study explored the impact of antimicrobial blends – oil blends that kill bacteria and fungus. The study focused on combinations with Lavender, for example Lavender with Cypress, with May chang, with Cinnamon, and with Sweet orange. Interestingly, Sweet orange has poor antimicrobial activity but when combined with Lavender it had positive benefits for respiratory infections. Therefore, combining these oils in a diffuser could be helpful for those suffering from tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, certain types of influenza, or the common cold. Add 1 drop of Lavender, 1 drop of Sweet orange to a oil burner, or 3 of each in a diffuser. Alternatively, add up to 4 drops of each in a warm bath. Activate those healing chemicals and feel the benefit of synergism.