Thyme - Research
Thyme has been studied for its antimicrobial properties. Recent studies show that thyme may be effective against a variety of bacteria.6,7,8 Thymol is one of many constituents in Listerine[®]but it has not been adequately studied as a single active ingredient in mouthwashes.9 Of interesting note, thyme oil was recently studied in combination with rosemary, lavender and cedarwood as rubbing oils for stimulating hair growth.10
The fresh or dried leaves of thyme are utilized for their flavoring properties, but distillation of the leaves and flowering tops produces the oil that is employed for its therapeutic properties.1,2 The two main ingredients in thyme oil are thymol and carvacrol, but thymol is believed to be responsible for most of the therapeutic aspects3,5 Internally thyme oil is used for cough, bronchitis, and indigestion.1,2,5 Traditionally, it has also been used to stimulate menstrual flow5 and aid in resolving occasional childhood diarrhea and bedwetting.1 Externally, it has been used to treat fungal infections, help treat minor arthritis, gum disease and tonsillitis.1 It is found in creams, lotions, perfumes, soaps and detergents because of its sweet-smelling aroma.3 Thymol is also found in toothpastes, mouthwashes and external analgesics.1
1 Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.; 2001.
2 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol. 2. New York: Dover Books; 1971.
3 Leung AY, Foster S, eds. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc; 1996.
4 Morales R. The history, botany and taxonomy of the genus Thymus. In: Stahl-Biskup E, ed., Sáez F, ed. Thyme: the genus Thymus. New York: Taylor & Francis; 2002.
5 Hoffmann D. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 2003.
6 Hammer K, Carson C, Riley T. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. J Appl Microbiol. June 1999;86(6):985-990.
7 Twetman S, Petersson L. Interdental caries incidence and progression in relation to mutans streptococci suppression after chlorhexidine-thymol varnish treatments in schoolchildren. Acta Odontol Scand. June 1999;57(3):144-148.
8 Lall N, Meyer J. In vitro inhibition of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by ethnobotanically selected South African plants. J Ethnopharm. September 1999;66(3):347-354.
9 Ulbricht C, Basch E. Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby, 2005.
10 Hay I, Jamieson M, Ormerod A. Randomized trial of aromatherapy: successful treatment of alopecia areata. Arch Dermatol. May 1999;135(5):602-603.