Thyme oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 7:27 min

Thyme oil is obtained from different types of thyme. Their oils, and therapeutic applications, differ depending on the chemotype of the plant.

Name Thyme
Lat. Name Thymus
Synonyms True Thyme, Garden Thyme
Origin Mediterranean
Price per 10ml 9,90

Thyme is not only a very popular essential oil, but is also often used for cooking and baking.

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Physical effects

Thyme has been widely used throughout Europe as a valuable medicinal plant since ancient times. Modern science has also revealed some of the small shrub’s unique properties. Many effects that have been long known have now been scientifically proven. Others are still being researched. According to recent scientific findings, thyme oil is effective for the following health problems:

Asthma

Thyme oil has a strong antispasmodic effect. Asthma manifests itself as a convulsive cough. This cough is caused by the sudden contraction of the bronchi. Due to its anticonvulsant properties, thyme oil can prevent coughing and provide relief.

Inflammation of the mouth

Thyme oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation of the tonsils is often caused by the pathogen Streptococcus pyrogenes. The Université d'Angers in France carried out a study on precisely this pathogen. Researchers were able to prove that thyme oil significantly inhibits this bug’s growth.  The bacterium Streptococcus mutans is responsible for gingivitis - inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can also result in serious consequences. Yeditepe University in Istanbul has demonstrated the positive effects of thyme oil against this pathogen in a study.

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Menstrual cramps

Scientists have observed that thyme oil is effective against menstrual pain - even better than ibuprofen! Babol University’s researchers were able to confirm what our ancestors knew about Thyme oil. In the study, subjects were given thyme oil and the pain scores were recorded. This scale was compared with subjects who did not receive thyme oil, and the results were almost definitive.    

Cough, flu and cold

Thyme oil is also a proven expectorant. This means, it makes it easier to cough up mucus build-up in the lungs. Breathing therefore becomes much easier for those affected. Researchers at the University of Munich were able to prove in a study that thyme oil is beneficial in acute bronchitis or severe lung problems.

Bronchitis is often caused by viruses and with to thyme oil’s strong antiviral properties, it can be used to directly combat bronchitis. Thymol, which is abundant in thyme oil, has up to 20 times stronger antibacterial properties than phenol, which is known for its powerful effects. In addition, thyme oil relaxes the airways, which is very relieving for patients with strong coughs.

Boosting the immune system

At the Nara Women's University in Japan researchers revealed that thyme oil regulates inflammation. It reduced production of the so-called COX-2 enzymes by up to 75 %. This essential enzyme plays a important role in the development of inflammation and it can also be found in excess in people suffering from cancer. By inhibiting this enzyme, the body is further stimulated to produce white blood cells. These blood cells are responsible for directly fighting and eliminating pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. The increased number of these white blood cells enables the body to protect itself more against diseases.

Gastrointestinal complaints

Thyme oil also promotes blood circulation and digestion. Illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract can have a variety of causes. If the problem's root is unbalanced gut bacteria, thyme oil can help to bring the intestinal fauna back into balance. If you simply suffer from poor digestion, the digestive properties of thyme oil will be of benefit. Thyme oil increases the blood flow to the stomach wall and stimulates it to produce more gastric juice. This allows food particles that are difficult to digest to be broken down faster and more efficiently.

Foot odour

Foot odour is caused by bacterial break down of sweat on our feet. We find these gases, such as methane and sulfur dioxide, to be extremely unpleasant. Thyme oil kills these unwanted bacteria. This does not reduce sweat. But it lowers decomposition of the organic compounds in this area.

Side effects

Thyme oil is generally considered to have minimal side effects. They may arise - but only in specific, rare cases. People with a pollen allergy should be more careful when using thyme oil. A so-called ‘cross allergy’ can occur. This means, people who already suffer from pollen allergies can also have an allergic reaction to thyme. Some active ingredients in pollen are very similar to the ingredients in thyme oil. If you develop an allergy, this manifests with swelling of the tongue and blisters in the mouth.

In cases of severe allergic reactions, which are extremely rare, hives can also occur. A hive is a temporary thickening of the skin. Under no circumstances should thyme oil be taken during pregnancy, because it is said to activate female reproductive organs, including the uterus.

Thyme oil may cause premature labour due to its high concentration of active ingredients. Although this has not been scientifically proven or refuted yet, one should still exercise caution. You have nothing to fear if your only intake of thyme is spice or tea. There, the concentration of the active ingredients contained is not high enough to produce an effect.

Application | Uses

Thyme oil is an excellent fragrance oil. Simply put a few drops of the oil in a diffuser or fragrance lamp. You can use the thyme oil for this in its pure form or mix it with any other oil. Thyme oil may have be irritating to the skin. You should therefore make sure that you never apply the pure oil directly to the skin. Instead, simply add 3-4 drops of thyme oil to a suitable carrier oil, such as olive or apricot oil. For its internal affects, use you can ingest thyme oil in its pure form. Otherwise, mix it with food or simply mix some thyme oil together with honey.

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Manufacturing

Thyme oil is obtained by steam distillation for up to 8 hours. The oils is maninly cultivated in Turkey, with up to 70% of worldwide annual production. The proportion of essential oils in thyme is approx. 1-2.5%. This means that you need approx. 50 kg of thyme to extract 1L of essential thyme oil.

Chemical composition

There are 7 different chemotypes of thyme oil (Aetheroleum Thymi). Chemotypes are oils that come from the same plant species but have different chemical compositions. These chemical compositions are dependent on various factors, such as the climate and sunlight. Here are some distinct types:  Geraniol type: Geraniol forms up to 90% of the ingredients. Linaolool type: Up to 96% of the ingredients consist of Linaolool and its esters. Terpineol type: Terpineol forms up to 80% of the ingredients. The ratio to the various esters and alcohols is 1:2. The trans-4 thuyamol-4-terpineol type: The proportion of thuyanol in this chemotype is up to 56%. The Caravarol type: This chemotype consists of up to 85% Ceravyol and only 5% Thymol. The thymol type: As the name suggests, thymol forms the majority of the ingredients with up to 75%.

History

Thyme has always played a culturally important role. In ancient Greece, thyme was used as an additive to any kind of incense. The first mentions of Thyme were early 1st century ACE with Dioskurides and Plinius the Elder. Carl von Linne' greatly detailed thyme and its effects in various scientific works. He did not limit himself to true thyme, but included up to eight different types of thyme in his studies. Felix de Silva Avellara first described true thyme and various subspecies according to Carl von Linne 'in 1804. George Bentham was the first to publish a systematization of the many subspecies of thyme in 1809.  

Botany

Thyme is a plant from the genus of labiate flowers and is distributed worldwide with numerous subspecies. Its origins are in Africa, Europe and temperate Asian regions. Of the various subspecies, true thyme is the best known. It usually grows as a shrub-like plant, the base of which is heavily wooded. The leaves of the thyme are whole-edged, sometimes serrated and usually grow independently. The leaves can be hairy to completely bald, depending on the subspecies. The fruits of the thyme are egg-shaped nutlets that contain spherical seeds.

Cultivation

Thyme is cultivated worldwide today because it is a common spice. Thyme prefers dry to semi-dry soils and sunny locations. It too specific in terms of climate, but prefers temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees and high humidity. Thyme cultivations are also known as 'bee pastures'. This is the name given to plants that primarily need bees to meet their pollen requirements. Bees are able to produce up to 185 kg of honey from a one hectare thyme field. This is precisely why thyme is often planted between other cultures. Recent reduction of bee numbers has resulted in a shortage of these hard-working little helpers. Thyme attracts bees to fields, allowing them to pollinate other flowers too.

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