Thyme Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects

Whether it is to treat the treat colds, aid weight loss, or ease pain, the thyme oil benefits are abundant as well as incredible. However, the medicinal uses of thyme weren’t recently discovered.

You will be fascinated to read the fact that in the medieval times, the bravest knights wore scarves embroidered with thyme to symbolize courage.

There is much more to talk about thyme. So, let’s understand this herb and its essential oil in detail here.

What Is Thyme Oil?

Thyme essential oil is extracted from the flowering tops of Thymus vulgaris through steam distillation method. It is a perennial evergreen shrub, which belongs to the Lamiaceae family.

The Lamiaceae is a group of flowering plants that are also commonly known as the mint family. Basil, mint, Lavender, Rosemary and many other aromatic plants come under this category. (1)

Bushy woody stems, small & dark green oval leaves, and white, purple flowers characterize the thyme plant.

Thyme plant is native to Europe. It is one of the most famous culinary herbs. The principal producers of thyme essential oil are France, Morocco, Turkey, and Spain.

There are different types of thyme essential oil whose health benefits depend on their chemical composition. The thyme oil mentioned in this article is the chemotype Thymol (2, 3, 4, 5).

benefits of thyme essential oil

Scientific Name Of Thyme Oil

 The botanical name of thyme is Thymus vulgaris / Thymus zygis.

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History Of Thyme Oil

The term "Thyme" comes from the Greek word "Thymos," which means "soul or heart."

The word is also associated with "blood or breathe," "desire to recognition," "desire to fight against injuries," "courage & strength" and much more.

Thyme was a widely used medicinal herb by Greeks and Romans. It was believed to promote courage and strength. If you were a knight in the Roman army, then you would probably have taken a thyme bath before entering into the battleground.

If you were a soldier of Middle ages in England, your woman would have embroidered an emblem of bee, and, hover a sprig of thyme on your scarf. Thyme represents bravery and energy.

While the Egyptians used thyme in the mummification process, the Greeks used it for religious and cleansing ceremonies.

Pliny the Elder, wrote that Thyme plant, when burnt, puts to flight all the venomous creatures. (6)

Thyme essential oil has been an important part of many wars and battles throughout history. For instance, thyme oil was used to sanitize hospitals, wards, and operation theatres during World War I.

health benefits of thyme oil

Colour, Consistency, and Smell Of Thyme Oil

  • The colour of thyme oil is colourless to pale yellow.
  • The consistency of thyme oil is medium and slightly oily.
  • The smell of thyme oil is fresh, soft, sweet, and herbaceous.

Properties Of Thyme Essential Oil

The therapeutic properties of thyme essential oil include:

  • Analgesic – Reduces the sensation of pain
  • Antibacterial – Prevents the growth of bacteria
  • Anthelmintic – Repels the parasites in the intestine
  • Anticoagulant – Reduces blood clotting
  • Antidepressant – Alleviates depression
  • Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
  • Anti-infectious – Prevents infections
  • Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation
  • Antimicrobial – Prevents the growth of microorganisms
  • Antioxidant – Inhibits oxidation
  • Antiputrescent – Effective against putrefaction
  • Antirheumatic – Eliminates the symptoms of rheumatic conditions
  • Antiseptic – Kills the microbes and prevents them from further development
  • Antispasmodic – Prevents or relieves spasms, convulsions, or contractions
  • Antitussive – Relieves coughs
  • Antivenomous - Used against the effects of venom
  • Antiviral – Prevents viral growth
  • Astringent – Contracts or tightens tissues
  • Balsamic – Soothes sore throats, coughs, etc.
  • Carminative – Gets rid of flatulence, eases bloating and stomach pain
  • Cicatrizing – Promotes the formation of scar tissue, thus healing
  • Circulatory – Promotes the flow of blood and lymph
  • Cytophylactic – Promotes cell turnover, thus healing
  • Decongestant – Reduces congestion such as mucus
  • Deodorant – Masks or removes unpleasant smell
  • Depurative – Serves as an effective cleanser and detoxifier
  • Digestive – Helps in the digestion of food
  • Disinfectant – Helps fight the spread of germs
  • Diuretic – Promotes the removal of excess water from the body
  • Emmenagogue – Regularizes or induces menstruation
  • Emollient – Gives a smooth and soft skin
  • Expectorant – Promotes removal of mucus from the body
  • Immunostimulant – Stimulates the action of the immune system
  • Mucolytic – Breaks down mucus
  • Pectoral – Beneficial for diseases or conditions of the chest and respiratory
  • system
  • Regenerative – Tends to regenerate
  • Restorative – Strengthens and revives the body’s systems
  • Spasmolytic – Helps ease muscle spasms
  • Stimulant – Increases the overall function of the body
  • Stomachic – Great for the stomach; digestive aid, and gastric tonic
  • Tonic – Invigorates, rejuvenates, and rebuilds the body functions
  • Vermifuge – Expels intestinal worms

Chemical Compounds In Thyme Oil

Note: The chemical composition of thyme essential oil differs with the chemotype and the place of production.

The chemical compounds present in the thyme essential oil include:

Thymol (48.3–62.5%), p-Cymene (7.2–18.9%), Carvacrol (5.5–16.3%), g-Terpinene (5.2–6.4%), b-Caryophyllene (1.3–3.1%), Linalool (1.5–2.7%), a-Pinene (1.0%), and a-Terpinene 1.0%).

essential oil thyme benefits

Health Benefits Of Thyme Oil

Though the thyme oil benefits are abundant, the most prominent ones include:

  • Alleviates inflammation
  • Maintains oral health
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Eliminates respiratory problems
  • Good for the skin
  • Gets rid of stress
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces menstrual pain
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Repels insects and bugs

1. Alleviates inflammation

Inflammation occurs when your immune system overreacts. It results in hypersensitivity and allergies when your immune system goes awry. It causes intense itching, sores, rashes and much more.

However, research shows that the compounds thymol and carvacrol in thyme essential oil inhibit the white blood cells migration during the inflammatory process. Both these compounds are attributed to the anti-inflammatory.

It is studied that thymol reduces irritation due to histamine and prostanoid release. (7)

Mix 5 drops of thyme oil with 5 drops of rosemary oil and 3 drops of lavender oil. Take 2 to 3 drops from the blend and dilute it using 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil. Apply the oil on the affected area twice a day.

2. Maintains oral health

Oral health is important because your mouth is where your digestion begins. Foul smell, cavities, toothache, and foul taste are indications that something is not going well inside your body.

Thyme oil is one of the commonly used ingredients in most mouthwashes that you see in the market today. Traditionally, thyme leaves were chewed for mouth freshening. It also helps to remove bad taste and sore throats.

Also, it gives a minty pleasant fragrance. The compounds thymol, carvacrol, and linalool are attributed to its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-infectious properties. (8)

Dilute 2 drops of thyme essential oil in 2 tablespoons of organic sesame oil. Use this diluted oil for oil pulling every morning. Make sure you do not swallow the oil after gargling.

3. Increases blood circulation

Poor blood circulation causes many problems in the body, which usually includes varicose veins, discolored skin, cold feet, swollen ankles, and much more.

These circulatory problems are often associated with diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. Stress also affects blood circulation to an unimaginable level. (9)

Happily, thyme essential oil reduces stress and anxiety. But this doesn't mean you can exclude exercise and good eating habits. Besides following a healthy routine, a good massage with diluted thyme essential oil aids the process much faster.

4. Eliminates respiratory problems

In ancient times, people burnt thyme leaves and inhaled its smoke to relieve respiratory problems.

Thyme and the essential oil extracted from it is great for colds and coughs. It helps to break down mucus and prevents infection in the airways.

Thyme is a proven remedy for bronchitis, whooping cough, and pleurisy. Thanks to its compounds - thymol, carvacrol, and linalool - which are attributed to its antiviral, anti-infectious, and antimicrobial properties. (10, 11)

You can use thyme essential oil through steam inhalation method. Make sure to close your eyes tight when inhaling the steam.

5. Good for the skin

Thyme oil is a well-known antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-infectious, and astringent. Topical application of thyme essential oil (but diluted with a carrier oil) helps in reducing inflammation, allergies, acne, and scars.

It increases blood circulation in the affected region and stimulates cell growth.

All you have to do is dilute 1 or 2 drops of thyme essential oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Moisturize your skin immediately after bath regularly. You will find your skin glowing in a few weeks. (12)

6. Overcomes stress

Stress and anxiety have become more prevalent in our day-to-day lives. A low cortisol level is not a big issue. However, if it increases, then it is destructive.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which when used as a medicine is called hydrocortisone. It is released whenever you are stressed or there are low blood-glucose concentrations.

However, essential oils and aromatherapy can come to rescue for all your stress-related problems. (13, 14) Diffuse thyme oil in your room to relax your mind and increase concentration.

7. Strengthens the immune system

Thyme is an effective tonic. It strengthens the immune system and prevents it from going awry unnecessarily. Also, it is well-known for its antioxidant properties. It prevents oxidative stress and increases oxygen circulation throughout the body.

Thymol, Carvacrol, and Linalool are the significant compounds attributed to this.

No wonder thyme is a part of different cuisines in the world. If you do not have the habit of consuming it, just make a detox bath occasionally. It is of immense help in strengthening your immune system.

8. Reduces menstrual pain

Painful menstruation or dysmenorrhea is one of the most common problems in women. Scientific studies have been conducted to compare the effect of thyme herb, thyme oil, and ibuprofen for the treatment of dysmenorrhea.

The results show that the thyme oil was as effective as ibuprofen in relieving the pain. It gets rid of spasms and abdominal cramps (15).

For abdominal cramps, a good massage with diluted thyme essential oil at the back and abdomen relieves pain during the menstrual time. It puts you to sleep and helps in regularizing the menstrual cycle.

9. Detoxifies the body

Detoxification is the first step to weight loss. Your body deals with toxins on a daily basis. It encounters toxins and excretes the same regularly. Thyme oil is an excellent diuretic. It helps in removing toxins and excess water from the body.

It improves your liver function. The compounds thymol and linalool present in it are attributed to its antioxidant property. You can add 2 drops of thyme oil in water for a detox bath. This should do a great help. (16).

10. Repels insects and bugs

Most commercial insect and bug repellents in the market consist of essential oils to enhance its fragrance or effectiveness. Thyme oil is one amongst them.

It is an effective insect repellent and research has also found that thyme is effective against malaria, filarial, and yellow fever.

The compounds thymol, p-cymene, carvacrol, linalool, a-Pinene, and a-terpinene are responsible for the insect repellent property of thyme oil. Scientists have found that thyme essential oil, when applied, topically (but diluted with a carrier oil) gives 100% protection from insects.

Its aroma lasts for 90 minutes and gives 80% protection (17, 18, 19, 20).

You can either apply diluted thyme essential oil on your skin or diffuse it in the room to repel mosquitos.

What Blends With Thyme Oil?

Thyme oil blends the best with:

How To Use Thyme Oil?

 thyme oil uses and benefits

Thyme essential oil has been given GRAS status by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which means that it is "Generally Regarded as Safe" to use in food as long as the oil is solvent-free.

  • Topical Application: Thyme essential oil is safe to use in higher dilutions. It is always recommended to perform a patch test before using the oil as intended.
  • Aromatherapy: Make sure you diffuse the oil using a diffuser or vaporizer. Ensure that the room has proper ventilation.
  • Ingestion: Thyme essential oil is used in many cuisines and is regarded as safe for internal use. However, we strongly recommend you to consult with a doctor before taking it orally.

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Side Effects Of Thyme Oil

  • Thyme essential oil may cause irritation in sensitive individuals.
  • Avoid using thyme oil near mucus membranes, as it would cause severe irritation.
  • Pregnant women should avoid using thyme essential oil because it stimulates menstrual flow.
  • Breastfeeding women should also avoid using oil.
  • Thyme essential oil slows down blood clotting. Avoid using it if you have a bleeding disorder.
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