Thyme is a powerful natural antioxidant (rate high behind clove oil) known to humanity. Dr. Yondim reported the benefits of thyme in the British Journal of Nutrition 2000. Oral supplements of thyme were able to maintain significant higher total antioxidant in the brain metabolism.
Thyme is a cultivated form of the wild thyme of the mountains European countries bordering the Mediterranean. There are two species, thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum). Thyme and wild thyme show relatively similar antioxidant activity (Kulisic, et al., 2006).
Health Benefits of Thyme
Thyme contains the flavonoids apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin, which have antioxidant activity. These flavonoids increase thyme's antioxidant capacity, and combined with its status as a very good source of manganese, give thyme a high standing on the list of anti-oxidant foods.
Thymol - named after the herb itself - is the primary volatile oil constituent of thyme, and its health-supporting effects are well documented. In studies on aging in rats, thymol has been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures. In particular, the amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme. The levels of antioxidants in the brains of the mice receiving thyme were comparable to antioxidant levels of much younger mice.
In other studies looking more closely at changes in the brains cells themselves, researchers found that the maximum benefits of thyme occurred when the food was introduced very early in the lifecycle of the rats, but was less effective in offsetting the problems in brain cell aging when introduced late in the aging process.
2008 study appearing in the journal Thrombosis Research determined that the addition of 5% of either rosemary or thyme could mitigate the ill effects of a “Western-style high-fat diet” in a group of mice that was examined for 12 weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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 423kj
Total Fat 1.68g
Dietary Fiber 14.0g
Vitamin C 160.1mg
Vitamin E mg
Vit. B3 (Niacin) 1.824mg
Vitamin B6 0.348mg
Vit. B1 (Thiamin) 0.048mg
Vit. B2 (Riboflavin) 0.471mg
Thyme contains moderate amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should limit their intake of thyme.
Kulisic, T., Dragovic-Uzelac, V., & Milos, M. (2006). Antioxidant Activity of Aqueous Tea Infusions Prepared from Oregano, Thyme and Wild Thyme. FOOD TECHNOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY. 44, 485-492.
Youdim KA, Deans SG. Mech Ageing Dev 1999 Sep 8; 109(3):163-75