In Ancient Greece, it was used in baths or burned as incense in temples, and it was believed to be a powerful source of courage. Egyptians used it as well, frequently employing it in their embalming rites. Among the later Romans, it was also used to purify rooms and even flavor cheese. Later still, in the mid ages, traditions held that thyme be placed beneath pillows to help some fall to sleep and ward off nightmares. Women also gave it to knights, clinging to the ancient belief that the leaves could provide courage. It was also used in funerary rites of the time, and was laid upon coffins to aid in the passage to the next life. Today, however, it is slipped away from most of these spiritual practices, and is most commonly found as a basic ingredient in a wide range of cultural dishes.
Modern herbalists find that thyme leaves and oil contain a large volume of a chemical that can be used widely as an antiseptic. Indeed, this chemical is the main active ingredient in the popular mouthwash Listerine. Prior to antibiotics, Thyme was sometimes used to medicate bandages. It was also used for the treatment of coughs and bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and in this case was used as a gargle, salve, or syrup.