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Thyme- Uses and Benefits - How does Thyme Works?

Taxonomic Class

Lamiaceae

Common Trade Names

Multi-ingredient preparations: Autussan "T," Olbas, Pertussin, Pertussin N

Common Forms

Extract: 12% to 14%

Ointment: 1 % to 2% thymol

Also available as an essential oil.

Source

Active components are derived from the dried leaves and flowering tops of Thymus vulgaris, a member of the mint family; the plant is native to Spain and Italy and widely cultivated worldwide.

Chemical Components

The composition of thyme essential or volatile oil is varied. Phenols, principally thymol, constitute 25% to 70% of the oils. Other components include carvacrol, camphene, sabinene, beta-pinene, 1,8-cineol, linalol, borneol, geraniol, geranyl acetate, sesquiterpine, and alcohol.

Actions

Thyme extract contains thymol and other phenols, which have antiseptic, antitussive, and expectorant properties. Thymol acts as an expectorant by directly irritating GI mucosa. Therefore, thymol is usually taken orally or applied topically.

Thyme exerts antifungal action, both topically and systemically. In vitro studies have also identified inhibitory effects on protozoa and certain bacteria .

Thyme liquid extracts have shown spasmolytic action in animal models and antioxidant effects (thyme oil) in rats .

Reported Uses

Thyme products have been used most widely as food additives, flavoring agents, and condiments. Therapeutic claims include use as an anthelmintic, an antiflatulent, an antifungal, an antiseptic, an antispasmotic, an antitussive, an expectorant, a diaphoretic, and a digestive aid. It is commonly used as an antitussive in respiratory tract disorders. Its antiseptic properties are exploited in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and tooth fillings. Other anecdotal uses include treatment of dysmenorrhea, dyspepsia, headache, and hysteria.

Thyme has been tested against actinomycosis in humans . Its systemic action is apparently greatly diminished in the presence of protein.

Dosage

For itchy skin, 1% to 2% ointment applied topically as needed.

Cough syrup: 1 tsp P.O. every 2 hours as needed.

Essential oil: 5 to 10 gtt in some water P.O. b.i.d. or t.i.d.

Tea: 1.5 to 2 g of dried herb P.O. t.i.d.

Adverse Reactions

CNS: dizziness, headache.

CV: bradycardia.

EENT: cheilitis, glossitis (with toothpaste).

GI: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting.

Musculoskeletal: muscle weakness.

Respiratory: slow respiratory rate.

Skin: dermatitis.

Other: systemic allergic reaction.

Interactions

None reported till date.

Contraindications and Precautions

Thyme is contraindicated in patients with a history of gastritis and intestinal disorders and in those who are hypersensitive to various plants, such as grass. Internal use is contraindicated in patients with enterocolitis or cardiac insufficiency and during pregnancy.

Special Considerations

  • Inform the patient that there are few clinical data to support thyme's use for any medical condition.
  • Caution the patient with sensitive skin or known allergies to avoid thyme.

  • Although no known chemical interactions have been reported in clinical studies, consideration must be given to the pharmacologic propeties of the herbal product and the potential for exacerbation of the intended therapeutic effect of conventional drugs.

Points of Interest

  • The volatile oils of T. vulgaris have proved effective against certain agricultural insects and have been suggested as an abundant, inexpensive, safe, and environmentally friendly alternative to commonly used pesticides in Egypt.

Commentary

Thyme preparations have been used for centuries to treat several disease states. In light of the limited availability of clinical studies that assess the safety and efficacy of thyme, these products cannot be recommended for therapeutic purposes. The use of thymol as an antiseptic may be useful in dental products, but well-designed studies are needed.

   

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