Thyme (/ˈtaɪm/) is an evergreen herb with culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses. The most common variety is Thymus vulgaris. Thyme is of the genus Thymus of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and a relative of the oregano genus Origanum.
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to “give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs”. In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
The name of the genus of fish Thymallus, first given to the grayling (T. thymallus described in the 1758 edition of Systema Naturae by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus) originates from the faint smell of the herb thyme, which emanates from the flesh.
What is Thyme Oil?
Oil of thyme is derived from thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris. The perennial herb, a member of the mint family, is used in aromatherapy, cooking, potpourri, mouthwashes, and elixirs, as well as added to ointments. Thyme also has a number of medicinal properties, which is due to the herb’s essential oils.
The benefits of thyme essential oil have been recognized for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries. This substance is also a common agent in Ayurverdic practice. Today, among the many producers of thyme oil, France, Morocco, and Spain emerge as the primary ones.
Thyme was used during the embalming process in Ancient Egypt and as incense for temples in Ancient Greece. According to writer Maud Grieve, the Romans used thyme to flavor up alcoholic beverages.
Hippocrates, also known as “the father of medicine,” noted that thyme is an amazing culinary herb that can be grown in gardens and gathered in countrysides. In one of his documents, he mentioned the therapeutic uses of thyme in treating respiratory diseases and conditions.
The medicinal properties of thyme come mainly from its essential oils which are extracted through steam distillation of fresh flowers and leaves. The chief constituents of its essential oil are Alpha Thujone, Alpha Pinene, Camphene, Beta Pinene, Para Cymene, Alpha Terpinene, Linalool, Borneol, Beta Caryophyllene, Thymol and Carvacrol.
Composition of Thyme Oil
Thyme is an example of an herb with over 300 varieties and various chemotypes, which are plants with the same appearance but have different chemical compositions. Each chemotype yields different oils with corresponding therapeutic benefits. This occurs when the plant is grown in different environments, climates, and soil.
Depending on which chemotype it is derived from, the oil of thyme produced will have a distinct chemical structure. The known chemotypes are:
Thymus vulgaris thymol–This chemotype has strong antiseptic activities and is 60 to 70 percent thymol. It goes by the name of “thyme” and “red thyme,” and is harvested during the fall.
Thymus vulgaris linalool– This is the most gentle of all thyme chemotypes. Referred to as “garden thyme,” this variation has potent antiparasitic and antifungal properties, and is grown in high altitudes.
Thymus vulgaris carvacrol– As its name suggests, this type contains the chemical constituent carvacrol. Its amount will depend on when it is harvested. When collected in the spring, it will contain 30 percent carvacrol, and 60 to 80 percent when harvested right after flowering or during the fall. vulgaris carvacrolis known for its antiseptic properties.
Thymus vulgaris thujanol– Found only in the wild, this plant contains 50 percent thujanol and is known for its beneficial effects on the immune system and hormones. It is often called “sweet thyme.”
Thymus vulgaris alpha–terpineol–This type is harvested during the early spring and has a pepper-like smell.
Thymus vulgaris geraniol– The geraniol chemotype has a lemon-like fragrance and is grown in high altitudes. It is often picked during autumn.
Thymus vulgaris 1,8 cineole– This contains 80 to 90 percent cineole and has diuretic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, and analgesic properties.
Thymus vulgaris p-cymene– This should be obtained within spring or else it becomes a different chemotype.
Thymus vulgaris phenol– These are thyme plants that grow in high altitudes and contain up to 90 percent of phenol compounds.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THYME OIL
Researchers confirmed that wild thyme induced cell death in the breast cancer cells, noting that wild thyme “may be a promising candidate in the development of novel therapeutic drugs for breast cancer treatment.” In as little as 72 hours of in vitro breast cancer treatment, thyme essential oil was able to kill 98% in human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) with a concentration of only 0.05%. In other studies, thyme essential oil has also proven successful in treating oral and ovarian cancer. A study found that extracts of Mastic Thyne (Thymus mastichina L.) may protect from colon cancers.
Leeds Metropolitan University in England found that thyme preparations may be more effective than acne prescription creams. The researchers reported that within five minutes of exposure, thyme was by far the most effective. Thyme was the most effective of killing around 100,000 bacteria per ml – or half a million per teaspoonful. They also discovered that thyme tincture had a significantly greater antibacterial effect than standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient found in the majority of creams and washes aimed at people with acne.
Millions of people around the world suffer from coughs, cramps and aches due to spasms. Spasms are unwanted and excessive involuntary contractions which may take place in the respiratory tracts, nerves, muscles, intestines or other organs and may result in coughs, convulsions, epileptic or hysterical attacks, cramps and muscular aches, abdominal and intestinal aches, and even spasmodic cholera.
There are two main reasons behind rheumatism, arthritis and gout. The first is improper or obstructed circulation, and the second one is an increasing concentration of toxins like uric acid in the blood stream. Thyme essential oil can sort out both of these problems. Since it is a diuretic, it increases urination and helps in the removal of toxins from the body. Being a stimulant, it stimulates or activates circulation and thereby sorts out this problem in a separate way. Both ways helps cure rheumatism, and related conditions like arthritis.
Thyme essential oil is a good antiseptic and safeguards wounds and sores against infections. This is mainly due to the presence of components like Caryophyllene and Camphene in thyme.
Researchers at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, reported in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition that an aqueous extract obtained from Thymus serpyllum L. (wild thyme) reduced blood pressure in an animal experiment on laboratory rats. In an Abstract in the journal, the study authors wrote “Our results indicate that TE may protect against hypertension in experimental model of essential hypertension.”
The same Caryophyllene and Camphene, along with a few other components, give thyme essential oil antibacterial properties. This inhibits bacterial growth within and outside of the body. It kills bacteria as well as keeps them away from the organs in the body. This is particularly beneficial in curing bacterial infections like B-Colitis, renal colic, bacterial infections in the genitals and urethra, intestines, and respiratory system as well as the external exposure of wounds.
Thyme essential oil also tones up the circulatory system, heart, digestive system, nervous system, muscles, and skin while fortifying them and boosting immunity.
This is a very important and useful property of thyme essential oil in today’s context, when heart troubles are growing at an alarming rate. This oil is very beneficial for the heart. It keeps the valves functioning properly, while being an anti spasmodic, it relaxes the arteries and veins and thereby reduces blood pressure and stress on the heart. Furthermore, it strengthens cardiac muscles and tones up the heart, since it is a tonic. Basically, thyme essential oil is good for every part of heart health.
Thyme essential oil, being a carminative and an antispasmodic, forces the removal of gases through downward movement (upward movement is very dangerous) and does not let them build up again.
Those who are suffering from an accumulation of water in the body due to chronic renal failure or from growing concentration of toxins and salts in the blood are sure to benefit from this essential oil. It increases urination and helps in the removal of excess water, salts and toxins from the body. This helps reduce weight, lower blood pressure, reduce fats and improve digestion as well.
Women should be very interested in this property of thyme essential oil. Women are always searching for something that can give them relief from obstructed and painful menstruation, irregular periods and premature menopause. They have found their answer in this oil. It opens obstructed menses, gives relief from the symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, depression and low blood pressure that is associated with menstruation. It can also delay menopause, thereby keeping women healthy, happy and fertile. The essential oil does all of this by stimulating the production of certain hormones like estrogen.
This is a tremendous property of thyme essential oil. This property makes scars and other ugly spots on your body vanish. These include the surgical marks, marks left by accidental injuries, acne, pox, measles, and sores.
When you are suffering from colds and coughs, you need to find an expectorant. Thyme essential oil is a great one! It helps cure infections that cause cough and cold and drains congestion, thereby giving relief from coughs and colds.
You might raise your eyebrows about this medicinal property and may not see it as a benefit. However, this property is very beneficial for those who are suffering from low blood pressure. Those type of people run the risk of falling unconscious at any time, and feeling sluggish. This oil can normalize their blood pressure by raising it, which is just as important sometimes as lowering it.
It can keep away insects and pests and also eliminate them if it becomes necessary. It can be effectively used to keep away parasites that feed on the human body like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, bed-bugs, and flies, as well as insects that attack food grains and clothes like beetles and moths.
It stimulates circulation, digestion, nervous responses and the secretion of hormones, thereby stimulating the whole metabolism.
If you have been suffering from coughing symptoms for a long time and antibiotics cannot help you anymore, then you might want to give this essential oil a try. Unlike when using potent antibiotics, you need not risk your kidneys, heart, liver, stomach and eyes with this oil. This is capable of curing infections in the chest (lungs, bronchi, larynx and pharynx) and stopping coughs.
Thyme essential oil kills worms. You can try it on intestinal worms like round worms and tape worms, as well as maggots in open sores and hook worms, which are notoriously difficult to eliminate.
20.) Yeast Killer
The fungus Candida albicans is a common cause of mouth and vaginal yeast infections. Often referred to as “thrush”, vaginal yeast infections are generally recurring. Researchers at the University of Turin in Italy set out to determine what effect thyme essential oil might have on Candida albicans in the human body. The team reported in the journal Planta Medica that thyme essential oil significantly enhanced intracellular killing of C. albicans.
Other Benefits: It acts as a memory booster and an antidepressant. It helps to increase concentration and helps to cure sinusitis, bronchitis, anorexia, cellulite, eczema, athlete’s foot, dermatitis, insect and animal bites, stings, laryngitis, pharyngitis and other infections. Finally, it can be used to eliminate bad breath and body odor.
Uses of Thyme Oil
Due to thyme oil’s antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive, and calming properties, it has a long list of uses that include:
Home remedy– Thyme oil is used to relieve and treat problems like gout, arthritis, wounds, bites, and sores, water retention, menstrual and menopausal problems, nausea and fatigue, respiratory problems (like colds), skin conditions (oily skin and scars), athlete’s foot, hangovers, and even depression.
Aromatherapy oil– The oil can be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.
Hair product– It is said that thyme oil can prevent hair loss. It is used as a treatment for the scalp and is added to shampoos and other hair products.
Skin product– Thyme oil can help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.
Mouthwashes and herbal rinses – Like peppermint, wintergreen, andmeucalyptus oils, thyme oil is used to improve oral health.
Insecticide/insect repellent– Thyme oil can keep insects and parasites like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and moths away.
It is a very potent oil and should not be used during pregnancy or in cases of high blood pressure. Because of the phenols (carvacrol and thymol), which can irritate mucus membranes and cause skin irritation, it should not be used for skin care products, and in general should be used in low concentrations.
When it is used in massage therapy, it would be a good idea to do a skin patch test to determine if the person is sensitive to it.