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The Order of Oddfellows still throw thyme into a grave, hence its continued association with death. Originally cultivated from the Mediterranean this aromatic spreading evergreen produces small mauve flowers in the summer. Its essential oil is highly valued in culinary circles but can also be used for medicinal purposes. The oil has been used to treat rheumatism, leprosy, whooping cough, and in tea to help a fever. Romans prescribed it for relieving depression to lift the spirits, and in the 16-century it was believed to cure sciatica and headaches. Also once used as a disinfectant.