The Health Benefits of Thyme

June 10, 2008

thymeThyme originates from the Mediterranean region, and dried thyme was burned in ancient Greece during ceremonies.

The Egyptians used thyme as an embalming agent in the mummification process.

Its medicinal properties were utilized in the 16th century as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent, before the discovery of antibiotics.

Today, Asia is the world’s largest producer of thyme, with Europe, the Mediterranean region, and America other large producers.

Health Benefits of Thyme

  • Antioxidants
    Thyme contains the flavonoids apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin, which have antioxidant activity.
  • Bronchitis
    A surveillance study was conducted to investigate the benefits of syrup extracts from thyme and ivy in treating acute bronchitis with productive cough. The results demonstrated that children and adolescents can be treated safely and effectively with the thyme and ivy syrup.
    In another double blind, placebo-controlled study, extracts of thyme herb and primrose root or a placebo were administered over an 11-day to 361 patients with acute bronchitis. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of the thyme/primrose extract in the treatment of acute bronchitis.
  • Anti Fungal
    A study at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Milan in Italy has concluded that thymol, the major component of thyme oil, has the ability to interfere with the formation of candida.
    A preliminary in-vitro study has determined the effectiveness of thymol, and other oil extracts in treating onychomycosis, the fungal infection of toe and fingernails.

    The vapors of essential oil of thyme and thymol have also exhibited suppressive activity on molds from damp buildings, and could be used for disinfection of moldy walls.

  • Mosquito Repellent
    Carvacrol, p-cymene, linalool, alpha-terpinene, and thymol are all ingredients derived from the essential oil of thyme, and have been studied for their mosquito repellent properties. In the study all 5 ingredients effectively repelled mosquitoes, and alpha-terpinene and carvacrol showed significantly greater repellent activity than a commercial formulation, with thymol showing similar repellent activity. The duration effectiveness of all 5 ingredients was equal to or higher than that of the commercial mosquito repellent.
  • Anti Bacterial
    The thyme extract thymol is one of the ingredients in the anti bacterial Listerine mouthwash, which in studies has exhibited potent anti bacteria properties.

    The results of a study demonstrated that the thyme oil ingredients carvacrol and p-cymene could potentially be used as antimicrobial agents in unpasteurized fruit juices.
    In preliminary studies thyme and the essential oils thymol and carvacrol inhibited the formation of Shigella, a food borne bacteria that can cause severe dysentery.

    In a study of the antimicrobial properties of 21 plant essential oils against 5 bacteria, of which Salmonella and E. coli were included, thyme oil was one of the most inhibitory.

  • Anti Inflammatory
    The thymol in thyme inhibits elastase, an enzyme that breaks down elastin, and is considered a marker of inflammatory diseases.
Nutrient Values of Fresh Thyme per 100g


Energy Value
Total Fat


Dietary Fiber


Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Vit. B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B6
Vit. B1 (Thiamin)
Vit. B2 (Riboflavin)
Thyme contains moderate amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should limit their intake of thyme.

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Marzian O. [Treatment of acute bronchitis in children and adolescents. Non-interventional postmarketing surveillance study confirms the benefit and safety of a syrup made of extracts from thyme and ivy leaves] MMW Fortschr Med. 2007 Jun 28;149(11):69-74. PMID: 17619603.
5. Kemmerich B. Evaluation of efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of dry extracts of thyme herb and primrose root in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung. 2007;57(9):607-15. PMID: 17966760.
6. Braga PC, Alfieri M, Culici M, Dal Sasso M. Inhibitory activity of thymol against the formation and viability of Candida albicans hyphae. Mycoses. 2007 Nov;50(6):502-6. PMID: 17944714.
7. Ramsewak RS, Nair MG, Stommel M, Selanders L. In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against ‘toe nail fungus’ pathogens. Phytother Res. 2003 Apr;17(4):376-9. PMID: 12722144.
8. Segvi? Klari? M, Kosalec I, Masteli? J, Piecková E, Pepeljnak S. Antifungal activity of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) essential oil and thymol against moulds from damp dwellings. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2007 Jan;44(1):36-42. PMID: 17209812.
9. Braga PC, Dal Sasso M, Culici M, Bianchi T, Bordoni L, Marabini L. Anti-inflammatory activity of thymol: inhibitory effect on the release of human neutrophil elastase. Pharmacology. 2006;77(3):130-6. Epub 2006 Jun 7. PMID: 16763380.
10. Park BS, Choi WS, Kim JH, Kim KH, Lee SE. Monoterpenes from thyme (Thymus vulgaris) as potential mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2005 Mar;21(1):80-3. PMID: 15825766
11. Kiskó G, Roller S. Carvacrol and p-cymene inactivate Escherichia coli O157:H7 in apple juice. BMC Microbiol. 2005 Jun 17;5(1):36. PMID: 15963233.
12. Kato T, Iijima H, Ishihara K, Kaneko T, Hirai K, Naito Y, Okuda K. Antibacterial effects of Listerine on oral bacteria. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll. 1990 Nov;31(4):301-7. PMID: 2133450.
13. Smith-Palmer A, Stewart J, Fyfe L. Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils and essences against five important food-borne pathogens. Lett Appl Microbiol. 1998 Feb;26(2):118-22. PMID: 9569693.

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