Even though I always have a pot of thyme on my porch, I had forgotten what a wonder worker this herb is and neglected to use it.
Then yesterday the Scientist woke up feeling terrible. This is not unusual when her allergies are acting up, but this was more terrible than average. I gave her a benedryl and some tylenol. It didn't help, and after half a morning of listening to her whine and dragging her through her lessons, she said, "Mom, can I go to the doctor? I have pressure in my ears."
"Pressure in the ears" gets you an immediate trip to the doctor at our house. I was pretty sure she wasn't infected, just stopped up with allergies, but I don't like to mess around with ear infections, and that's how they start. I got her a doctor's appointment for the afternoon, then looked around the house for some decongestant to help relieve those ears. There was none. Then I thought of the thyme on my porch. It is very effective for congestion. In fact, last fall, I had taken a teaspoon full of thyme vinegar each morning and suffered no hay fever misery at all.
I had been reading one of Susun Weed's Wise Woman Herbal series the night before. I'm always conflicted about whether to sell the one book by her I do own, or buy all the rest. She takes a very Pagan approach to herbalism, so a Christian reader has to sift through the wheat and the chaff when using her material. Still, she knows her herbs, and her book offers the most clear, exact, practical instructions for preparing herbs that I have found anywhere.
With her instructions fresh in my mind, I brought in a couple of handfuls of thyme from the porch, placed them in a large glass jar, and put the kettle on. The thyme was infusing while we were at the doctor's office.
The doctor looked in the Scientist's ears and throat, made and face, and wryly commented, "I'll have to say something to the receptionist about giving the kids red lollipops before they come in here!" He then pronounced (as I had expected) that her ears were not infected, but they were full of fluid. Since the tylenol hadn't given her any relief, he prescribed some ear drops for the pain and told us to come back if she developed a fever.
The ear drops brought almost instant relief, though she didn't like the gooey glycerin based stuff oozing down into her ear. So she wasn't very keen on drinking down a cupful of thyme infusion afterwards, even if it was sweetened with over a tablespoon of honey. Still, she was up against a mother determined to stop this thing from getting infected, so drink it she did.
It didn't have the immediate effect of the ear drops. Herbs are gentle, and thyme doesn't instantly open your sinuses the way diphenhydramine does. But by this morning, she had no ear pressure and didn't need any ear drops. I gave her another cupful of infusion at breakfast and she has been her rosy self all day.
Please note: Thyme is an emmenagogue and uterine stimulant, and should not be used medicinally during pregnancy.