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Thyme

Uses

Botanical names:
Thymus vulgaris

Parts Used & Where Grown

This fragrant plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean region of Europe and is extensively cultivated in the United States. The dried or partially dried leaves and flowering tops are used medicinally.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Bronchitis
Refer to label instructions
Thyme has antispasmodic, mucus-clearing, and antibacterial actions.

Thyme contains an essential oil (thymol) and certain flavonoids . This plant has antispasmodic, expectorant (mucus-expelling), and antibacterial actions, and it is considered helpful in cases of bronchitis.2 One preliminary trial found that a mixture containing volatile oils of thyme, mint, clove, cinnamon , and lavender diluted in alcohol, in the amount of 20 drops three times daily, reduced the number of recurrent infections in people with chronic bronchitis.3

1 Star
Chronic Candidiasis
Refer to label instructions
Volatile oils from thyme have been shown to have significant antifungal action. Doctors recommend enteric-coated capsules, which break down in the intestines instead of the stomach.

Volatile oils from oregano , thyme , peppermint , tea tree , and rosemary have all demonstrated antifungal action in test tube studies.4 A recent study compared the anti-Candida effect of oregano oil to that of caprylic acid.5 The results indicated that oregano oil is over 100 times more potent than caprylic acid, against Candida. Since the volatile oils are quickly absorbed and associated with inducing heartburn , they must be taken in coated capsules, so they do not break down in the stomach but instead are delivered to the small and large intestine. This process is known as “enteric coating.” Some doctors recommend using 0.2 to 0.4 ml of enteric-coated peppermint and/or oregano oil supplements three times per day 20 minutes before meals. However, none of these volatile oils has been studied for their anti-Candida effect in humans.

1 Star
Cough
Refer to label instructions
Many constituents in thyme team up to provide its antispasmodic, mucus-expelling, and cough-preventing actions. It also appears to be safe even for small children.

Thyme has a long history of use in Europe for the treatment of dry, spasmodic coughs as well as for bronchitis .6 Many constituents in thyme team up to provide its antitussive (preventing and treating a cough), antispasmodic, and expectorant actions. The primary constituents are the volatile oils, which include the phenols thymol and carvacol.7 These are complemented by the actions of flavonoids along with saponins. Thyme, either alone or in combination with herbs such as sundew , continues to be one of the most commonly recommended herbs in Europe for the treatment of dry, spasmodic coughs as well as for whooping cough.8 Because of its apparent safety, it has become a favorite for treating coughs in small children.

1 Star
Halitosis
Refer to label instructions
Volatile oils made from thyme have antibacterial properties and may be effective in mouthwash or toothpaste form.

The potent effects of some commercial mouthwashes may be due to the inclusion of thymol (from thyme ) and eukalyptol (from eucalyptus )—volatile oils that have proven activity against bacteria. One report showed bacterial counts plummet in as little as 30 seconds following a mouthrinse with the commercial mouthwash Listerine™, which contains thymol and eukalyptol.9 Thymol alone has been shown in research to inhibit the growth of bacteria found in the mouth.10 , 11 Because of their antibacterial properties, other volatile oils made from tea tree ,12 clove, caraway , peppermint , and sage ,13 as well as the herbs myrrh 14 and bloodroot ,15 might be considered in a mouthwash or toothpaste. Due to potential allergic reactions and potential side effects if some of these oils are swallowed, it is best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before pursuing self-treatment with volatile oils that are not in approved over-the-counter products for halitosis.

1 Star
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Thyme is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.16

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise , Basil , cardamom, cinnamon , cloves, coriander, dill, ginger , oregano , rosemary , sage , lavender , and thyme .17 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.18 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.19 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

1 Star
Infection
Refer to label instructions
Thyme is an herb that directly attack microbes.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Other than its use as a spice, thyme has a long history of use in Europe for the treatment of dry, spasmodic coughs as well as bronchitis .1 Its antispasmodic actions have made it a common traditional recommendation for whooping cough. Thyme has also been used to ease an irritated gastrointestinal tract. The oil has been used to treat topical fungal infections and is also used in toothpastes to prevent gingivitis .

How It Works

Botanical names:
Thymus vulgaris

How It Works

Many constituents in thyme team up to provide its antitussive (preventing and treating a cough), antispasmodic, and expectorant (thinning the mucus to allow for coughing out) actions. The primary constituents are the volatile oils, which include the phenols, thymol and carvacol.20 These are complemented by the actions of flavonoids . Thyme, either alone or in combination with herbs such as sundew , continues to be one of the most commonly recommended herbs in Europe for the treatment of dry, spasmodic coughs as well as whooping cough.21 Due to the low toxicity of the herb, it has become a favorite for treating coughs in small children.

How to Use It

The German Commission E monograph recommends a cup (250 ml) of tea made from 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 grams) of the herb taken several times daily as needed for a cough .22 A fluid extract, 1/4–3/4 teaspoon (1–4 ml) three times per day, can also be used. Another alternative is to use a tincture, 1/3–1 teaspoon (2–6 ml) three times per day.

Interactions

Botanical names:
Thymus vulgaris

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Thymus vulgaris

Side Effects

Used as recommended, thyme herbal preparations are generally safe. However, a spasmodic cough, particularly in a young child, may be dangerous and a healthcare professional should be consulted before deciding on the proper course of treatment. The use of thyme by pregnant or breast-feeding women is considered to be safe. Thyme oil should be reserved for topical use, as internally it may lead to dizziness, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.23 Some people may be sensitive to use of thyme oil topically on the skin or as a mouth rinse.

References

1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 492–5.

2. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 219–20.

3. Ferley JP, et al. Prophylactic aromatherapy for supervening infections in patients with chronic bronchitis. Phytother Res 1989;3:97–9.

4. Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternafolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida albicans. J Antimicrobial Chemother 1998;42:591–5.

5. Stiles JC. The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano. J Applied Nutr 1995;47:96–102.

6. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 492–5.

7. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 1184–5.

8. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 208–9.

9. Kato T, Iijima H, Ishihara K, et al. Antibacterial effects of Listerine on oral bacteria. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll 1990;31:301–7.

10. Cosentino S, Tuberoso CI, Pisano B, et al. In-vitro antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of Sardinian Thymus essential oils. Lett Appl Microbiol 1999;29:130–5.

11. Petersson LG, Edwardsson S, Arends J. Antimicrobial effect of a dental varnish, in vitro. Swed Dent J 1992;16:183–9.

12. Cox SD, Mann CM, Markham JL, et al. The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). J Appl Microbiol 2000;88:170–5.

13. Serfaty R, Itic J. Comparative trial with natural herbal mouthwash versus chlorhexidine in gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1988;1:A34–7.

14. Dolara P, Corte B, Ghelardini C, et al. Local anaesthetic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesquiterpenes from myrrh. Planta Med 2000;66:356–8.

15. Hannah JJ, Johnson JD, Kuftinec MM. Long-term clinical evaluation of toothpaste and oral rinse containing sanguinaria extract in controlling plaque, gingival inflammation, and sulcular bleeding during orthodontic treatment. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1989;96:199–207.

16. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303–19.

17. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.

18. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 185–6.

19. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 198.

20. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, eds. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 1184–5.

21. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1988, 208–9.

22. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 219–20.

23. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 256–7.

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