It is still used for embalming. During the Middle Ages, it was used as a strewing herb, and oil of Thyme was used during World War I to treat infection and to help relieve pain. The part of this plant used medicinally is the above-ground portion. The primary chemical constituents of Thyme include essential oil (borneol, carvacrol, cymol, linalool, thymol), bitter principle, tannin, flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin), saponins and triterpenic acids. Small amounts of this herb are sedative, whereas larger amounts are stimulant. Thyme has been useful against hookworm, roundworms and threadworms. Thyme also warms and stimulates the lungs, helping to expel mucus and relieve congestion. It is also thought to help deter bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Both constituents, thymol and carvacro,l have a relaxing effect upon the gastrointestinal tract's smooth muscles. This herb has had many culinary uses over the years, including its use in soups, stews, vegetables, chicken, jams, fruit salads, bouquet garnishes, gumbos and Benedictine liqueur. Thyme aids in the digestion of high fat foods and has been used to preserve meat. Thyme honey, made when bees collect pollen from Thyme flowers, is excellent. Known topical applications include its use as a gargle and mouthwash for dental decay, laryngitis, mouth sores, plaque formation, sore throat, thrush, tonsillitis and bad breath. Thyme has been used as a compress for lung congestion such as asthma, bronchitis, colds and flu, and as a poultice for wounds, mastitis, insect bites and stings.
It has also been used as an eyewash for sore eyes and as a hair rinse for dandruff. The essential oil is added to soaps and antidepressant inhalations.