What is Thymus Serpyllum?

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  • Written By: N. Phipps
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2019
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Thymus serpyllum, also known as mother of thyme or wild creeping thyme, is a low-growing herb. This creeping species is commonly found planted between stone pavers within garden paths and walkways. The plant is popular for its sweet, lemony aroma. The plant contains the same flavoring and medicinal properties as common thyme (T. vulgaris). As a result, it is a good substitute for use in the kitchen and as herbal remedies.

Wild thyme also shares a similar history with common thyme. Greeks and Romans often used the essential oil after bathing or just before competitions. Egyptians used Thymus serpyllum in their embalming practices. The plant was burned as a fumigator in sick rooms and hospital wards. It was used as incense for many types of religious ceremonies as well.

This herb is useful for treating a variety of conditions. The plant’s antispasmodic qualities make it suitable for alleviating pain associated with cramps and spasms. In fact, the reference to mother refers to its use for treating uterine muscles following childbirth. Mother of thyme is also helpful for problems with painful menstruation.


The plant can be used year-round, either distilled for its essential oil or dried. Wild thyme extracts can be taken as syrup or an infusion sweetened with honey or sugar. Thymus serpyllum can also be made into a tea, ingested directly or mixed with other herbal extracts. The essential oil has been used to treat many stress-related conditions. The tea is useful for treating headaches, nervous problems, and indigestion.

This plant has antifungal and antiseptic properties too. Thymus serpyllum can be found in decongestants and used for the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis, colic, hangovers, and oral infections. It is often used as flavoring in toothpaste and mouthwash as well. Some practitioners also prescribe the plant for treating parasites, such as roundworms.

A paste can be prepared using Thymus serpyllum. This is often applied as a poultice to the skin, creating heat and moisture to relieve aches or minor injuries. However, it may cause allergic reactions in overly sensitive individuals. In addition, the essential oil can be used in soaps and perfumes. The dried flowers are also thought to help repel moths.

In the kitchen, Thymus serpyllum can be used raw in salads or as flavoring for other foods, especially with soup, vegetables, and meat dishes. With exception to minor skin irritation, there are no other adverse side effects associated with this herb.


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