Scientific Name/Common Name: Thymus vulgaris / Thyme
Part(s) Used: Herb/aerial portions
Constituents/Active Ingredients: 1-2.5% essential oil with thymol (30-70%) and carvacrol (3-15%) as the main components. Other monoterpenes include limonene, p-cymene, gamma terpinene, and geraniol. There are also many tannins, flavonoids, and triterpenes in the leaves.
Overview: Thyme was traditionally used as a medicine for treating symptoms of bronchitis, whooping cough, and catarrh (mucous) of the upper respiratory tract. The German Commission E also lists thyme leaves and oil for treating poor digestion. In European folk tradition, thyme leaf tea was also used for nervous disorders. Experimentally, oil of thyme lowers arterial pressure, increases heart rhythms, respiratory volume, lowers blood pressure, and alleviates toothaches. The oil is strongly antibacterial and antimicrobial, being 25 times stronger than phenol, but, in contrast, it is less injurious to the skin. Because essential oils are very toxic and irritating to the skin when applied directly, it is important to use thyme oil externally only as a wash made from the leaf tea or as part of liniment or massage oil blend. However, pure thyme oil is often used as a natural preservative for medicinal and culinary oil blends, especially for encapsulated fish oil blends because of its antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Respiratory system; as an expectorant for cough and phlegm; for bronchitis and catarrh; for indigestion; to relieve gas, bloating, colic.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Wichtl M, editor. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis, 3rd edition. Stuttgart (D): Medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers; 2004.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.