Seeing thyme oil listed on the bottle as an important ingredient of this very modern product reminds me of a continuity from 19th century household practices and today. A century and a half ago, thyme was a very popular cooking herb, just as it is today, but it also had medicinal and other household uses.
|Common Thyme and the Chemical Structure of Thymol|
Thyme was not the only common garden herb that was used this way. Savory was also utilized in washing wounds. Savory seems to often be a forgotten herb in today's cooking, but it was quite popular among Victorian Americans and imparts a very tasty Italian herb flavor to food.
Herbs weren't just used in cleaning wounds, but also in everyday cleaning around the household. Fragrant herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, and lavender were a common ingredient in cleaning mixtures for washing floors, tables, and other surfaces in the home, not merely because they smell quite nice, but because they were believed to help promote a clean and healthy atmosphere.
|A Ward of Armory Square Hospital, Washington, DC in 1865|
General hospitals during the Civil War also made use of herbal cleaning supplies for just the same reasons. We can appreciate today that those practices may have helped to reduce the spread of disease and infection among sick and wounded soldiers.