GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An annual herb up to 45 cms high with slender, erect, slightly hairy stems, linear leaves and small, pale lilac flowers.
DISTRIBUTIONS: Native to Europe; naturalised in North America. Extensively cultivated, especially in Hungary, France, Yugoslavia and Germany.
HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: A popular culinary herb, with a peppery flavour. It has been used therapeutically mainly as a tea for various ailments including digestive complaints (cramp, anusea, indigestion, intestinal parasites), menstrual disorders and respiratory conditions (asthma, catarrh, sore throat). Applied externally the fresh leaves bring instant relief from insect bites, bee and wasp stings.
ACTIONS: Anicatarrhal, antiputrescent, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, cicatrisant, emmenagogue, expectorant, fungicidal, stimulant, vermifuge.
EXTRACTIONS: Essential oil by steam distillation from the whole dried herb. ( An oleoresin is also produced by solvent extractions.)
CHARACTERISTICS: A colourless or pale yellow oil with a fresh, herbaceous, spicy odour. It blends well with lavender, pine needle, oakmoss, rosemary and citrus oils.
PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: Carvacrol, pinene, cymene, limonene, phellandrene and borneol, among others.
SAFETY DATA: Dermal toxin, dermal irritant, muscous membrane irritant. Avoid during pregnancy.
AROMATHERAPY/HOME USE: None.
OTHER USES: Occasionally used in perfumery work for its fresh herbaceous notes. The oil and oleoresin are used in most major food categories, especially meat products and canned food.