This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Our Garden Herb, Thyme (The Thyme Of Candy, Musk Thyme), which is used by the cook as a flavouring, or for seasoning purposes, is an excellent cordial. Its proper name, Thymus serpyllum, denotes a procumbent creeping plant, whilst "thumos" signifies the courage which it inspires. It is anti-spasmodic, good against nervous, or hysterical headaches, for flatulence, and the headache which follows inebriation. Thyme tea is aromatic, fragrant, and refreshing. The plant depends for its virtues on an essential oil consisting of two hydrocarbons, with thymol as the fatty base, this thymol being a famous antiseptic. The Romans gave Thyme as a sovereign remedy to melancholy persons. A little of the herb added to wine imparts thereto a most grateful savour; mixed with food it helps dimness of sight. The herb, wherever it grows wild, denotes a pure atmosphere, and is thought to enliven the spirits by the fragrance which it diffuses into the air around. "I know a bank whereon the Wild Thyme blows," says Oberon, King of the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Another variety of the same is Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus), distinguished by its particoloured leaves, and its lilac flowers.
Small beds of this Thyme are cultivated at Penzance, in which to rear millepedes, or hog-lice, for administration against scrofulous disease in several of its forms. The said millepede was the primitive medicinal pill. It is found commonly in dry gardens, under stones, or rubbish, and rolls itself up in a ball when touched, having a brown, horny armour, in plates, around its diminutive body, which body abounds with a nitrous salt, this having long given the creatures a reputation for curing inveterate struma, as well as some kinds of bladder-stone. From three to twelve were ordered of old daily throughout a hundred days, in Rhenish wine, for overcoming cancerous disease. Other popular designations which it bears are Old Sow, Grammar Sow, Saint Anthony's Hog, Chiselbob, and Cudworm; the Latin name is Porcellus scaber.