Thyme is mostly known as a culinary herb but it has, in fact, many medicinal applications. Have you ever wondered what the health benefits of thyme are?
What are the health benefits of thyme?
Thymus vulgaris, also known as thyme, is an evergreen perennial shrub of the mint family Lamiaceae that grows to 15-30cm tall and 40cm wide. The plant has small, aromatic grey-green leaves and light purple flowers that are in clusters. It is native to Southern Europe and has been used, either fresh or dry, since ancient times as culinary herb as well as for therapeutic purposes.
The name of the herb derives from the Greek word “thumos” meaning “spiritedness.” Reports of the usage of the herb can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The Knights of the Middle Ages used to carry thyme with them as it was thought to give courage, strength, and energy and ward off diseases.
The most characteristic feature of this plant is, of course, the unique fragrance it gives off due to its essential oil. The main chemical components of the essential oil are thymol (47,6%), gamma-Terpinene (30,9%), para-Cymene (8,41%), Caryophyllene, alpha-Thujene, and beta-Myrcene. Several vitamins and minerals also contribute to the health benefits of thyme.
- Symptoms of the upper respiratory tract– It is well established that thyme helps to fight asthma, cold, flu, whooping cough and bronchitis thanks to its antispasmatic and expectorant properties. As a result, it is a vital ingredient in many remedies.
- Disinfectant – Thyme is well-known for its antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties, mainly due to phenolic acids and flavonoids it contains. It can be used against rashes and viral infections such as herpes or fungal infections.
- Urinary and menstrual problems – Thyme prevents muscle spasms, alleviates the symptoms they cause and gives a diuretic action. It can be used against vaginitis, cystitis, and urethritis.
- Rheumatism and arthritis – It is said that the herb relieves from inflammation but clinical trials are lacking to support these uses.
- Mosquito repellent
- Gastrointestinal spasms, colitis, and diarrhea
- Dental pain
- Skin complaints such as dermatitis, skin infections, sprains, bruises and burns
- Soaps and cosmetics
- Culinary herb
Consumption of the herb in culinary amounts is likely safe and the application to the skin possibly safe. Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use products containing thyme without medical supervision.
Thyme may also cause abdominal pain when taken orally and irritation when applied to the skin. People with sensitivity to herbs of the Lamiaceae family (origanum, basil etc) may develop allergic reactions. It is also worth mentioning that it might act like estrogen in the body and therefore it can alter the menstrual cycle and exacerbate conditions that are affected by estrogen exposure.
Thyme might also slow blood clotting and increase bleeding so its usage should be avoided before surgery.
There is actually little evidence as to how thyme may affect synthetic drugs or other herbal medicinal products. It seems, however, that it can potentially slow blood clotting so it might interact with anticoagulant drugs. That includes aspirin, diclofenac, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, naproxen, dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin, warfarin, ticlopidine, cilostazol and others.
Aside from that, it might also interact with 5-fluorouracil and antineoplastics, although without any serious consequences.
In general, thyme is considered to have no serious drug interactions.
As with any herb, in order to ripe the health benefits of thyme, a proper use is required. To determine the appropriate dose of thyme, various factors, such as the age of the user, general health, and form of administration, should be considered. Thyme is marketed as tea, syrup, drops, suppositories, pastilles and tablets and its oil can be found in various forms for external use. The daily dosage should not exceed 6g, when used as fluid extract, and 8-10g in the form of tea. Naturally, it must be adjusted accordingly, when the user is a child.
Did you find this article interesting? If so, share it with your friends. Do not hesitate to use the comment section below to share your thoughts.
Disclaimer: Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or your pharmacists’ advice.