Thyme: A powerful herb for health

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bunch of fresh thyme

Thyme or thyme is a common herb, also known as fennel, melitsini or thrumbi. It is an aromatic shrub that when it blooms in summer, has pink-purple flowers which have a unique scent that attracts bees. There are over 400 species of thyme. In Greece, the thyme is common (Thymus capitatus) while in the Western Mediterranean the thyme is common (T. vulgaris) which is a cultivated form of the wild thyme (T. serpyllum).

Thyme and use

The range of use of thyme in cooking is impressive. It is used as a spice in many cuisines and especially in the Mediterranean. Its taste is strong and slightly caustic. It is a staple in some sauces that you can use as a seasoning or add them to pasta and rice. Fresh leaves or whole twigs of the plant can be used in the preparation of meat, poultry and even fish. It is one of the key ingredients in Benedictine liqueur.

In addition to its use in cooking, the herb also has a significant reputation for its medicinal properties. It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which is why it has been used as a treatment for acne. Its various types have been widely used as a tea, tonic, antitussive and mitigation reliever. Thyme volatile oil is expectorant, strongly antiseptic while the thymol it contains is an active antifungal.

Thyme and properties

The properties of thyme make it useful in chronic, fungal infections, as well as an effective remedy for lung infections such as bronchitis and pleurisy. Delicious infusions can be given for micro-infections of the throat and lungs, while fresh leaves can be chewed to relieve sore throats.

Thyme and species

However, the different types of thyme may have quite a different composition and this means significant differences in certain biological actions [1, 2]. The analyzes showed that the main chemical compounds in T. vulgaris are: thymol, carvacrol, camphene, karyophyllene, avoutylene, α-terpenol, p-cymene, γ-terpinene, linalool and borneol. But while thymol content is about 50% in T. vulgaris essential oil, this percentage can be as high as 8% in T. capitatus. Also, the composition of an essential oil can be quite different even in the same species, depending on the time of harvest. A study showed that the carbacrol content of T. capitatus in Northern Sicily was 14.2%, 76.1% and 81.2% when harvested on 14/5, 19/6 and 16/7 [3 ].

Thyme and acne

When thyme is immersed in alcohol for days or weeks, it turns into a solution known as tincture. In 2012, researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University in Britain tested the effects of thyme dyes on acne. The findings were presented at a conference of the Society for General Microbiology and were impressive. This natural herbal preparation fights acne-causing bacteria better than prescription products that contain benzoyl peroxide.

It should be noted, however, that this study was laboratory. Many plants have inhibitory effects on the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses in vitro but there is not much clinical evidence on their effectiveness and safety in treating acne.

Thyme and respiratory system

Thyme essential oil, obtained from its leaves, is often used as a natural remedy for coughs. In one study, a combination of thyme and ivy leaves helped relieve coughs and other symptoms of acute bronchitis.

Thyme and oral hygiene

Note that the anti-inflammatory effects of thymol have been documented in several studies. Thymol is effective in reducing infections and this makes it beneficial for oral health. Thus, it is an ingredient in many dental products, such as e.g. in the Listerine oral solution [6].

Thyme and immune system

Thymol is active against bacteria such as salmonella and staphylococcus [7]. This makes thyme useful tonic for the immune system in chronic infections.

The plant has been used to treat worms (anthelmintic) in children. It is useful in intestinal infections and infections, from gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungi and yeasts such as Candida albicans.

Thyme and insect repellent

Thymol is a component of many pesticides. A study has shown that thyme extract can repel mosquitoes such as e.g. the Tiger mosquito.

The Tiger mosquito comes from tropical regions of Southeast Asia and since the 1990s it has spread around the world, transmitting West Nile virus, dengue fever and other diseases. A South Korean research team said the combination of thymol, alpha-terpene and carvacrol was effective in killing its larvae.

To get the best results from pest control, rub thyme leaves between your hands. It should be noted that the Romans burned and spread thyme on the floor to remove scorpions.

Thyme and stability of cooking oils

Lipid oxidation is a serious problem when processing and storing food. It can reduce their quality, stability and security. Scientists from Poland have examined whether thyme extract can prolong the stability of the sun at different temperatures. The conclusion was that thyme stabilizes sunflower oil, which was attributed to its antioxidants.

Thyme is especially rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, two important antioxidants. The 100 gr. T. Vulgaris leaves contain 4,751 International Units of Vitamin A and 160 mg of Vitamin C. Vitamin A is vital for maintaining healthy mucous membranes and skin as well as good eyesight. Vitamin C fights pre-inflammatory free radicals. Thyme is also a rich source of flavonoids.

Thyme and side effects

Thyme is safe when consumed as a food. There is not enough information to know if it is safe in oral doses. In some people, it can cause digestive disorders, headaches or dizziness.

It can also slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding if used in large quantities. Therefore, do not use thyme for at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Thyme oil can irritate the mucous membranes, so you should always dilute it well. A case has been reported in Turkey where the ingestion of 25 ml of oil caused hepatotoxicity [8].

Do not drink large amounts as a decoction for long periods of time. Thyme is probably safe during pregnancy in the normal dose, but avoid the drink in therapeutic doses if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Some people who are allergic to plants of the family Lamiaceae may also be allergic to thyme.

Finally, the plant can act as estrogen in the body. If you have a condition that can be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use it.

At Vita4you.gr you will find thyme supplements!

References

  1. Evaluation of the antibacterial and antioxidant activities of chitosan edible films incorporated with organic essential oils obtained from four Thymus species.
  2. Assessment of Antioxidant and Antibacterial Properties on Meat Homogenates of Essential Oils Obtained from Four Thymus Species Achieved from Organic Growth.
  3. Influence of harvesting time on composition of the essential oil of Thymus capitatus (L.) Hoffmanns. & Link. growing wild in northern Sicily and its activity on microorganisms affecting historical art crafts.
  4. Thyme may be better for acne than prescription creams.
  5. Efficacy and Tolerability of a Fluid Extract Combination of Thyme Herb and Ivy Leaves and Matched Placebo in Adults Suffering From Acute Bronchitis With Productive Cough. A Prospective, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
  6. THYMOL – ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ORAL HEALTH.
  7. Medicinal and Functional Values of Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) Herb.
  8. Acute Hepatitis Associated with Thymus Vulgaris
    Oil Ingestion; Case Report.
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