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Discover thyme oil’s top-notch health benefits

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Thyme Oil

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  • Thyme oil can be used as a preservative against spoilage and several foodborne germs that can contribute to health problems. It is effective against other forms of bacteria such as Salmonella, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas species
  • Due to thyme oil's antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive and calming properties, it has a long list of uses. Let me share some information on this essential oil

Superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are on the rise and are unfortunately becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them. When faced with a microbial infection, using natural antibacterial agents may not only be more effective, but also safe and risk-free.

Apart from using spices like garlic, I recommend you try essential oils derived from herbs like thyme oil. Not only do they have antibacterial properties, but they also provide a number of health benefits. Before I go into thyme oil's antimicrobial functions, let me share some information on this essential oil.

What is thyme oil?

Oil of thyme is derived from thyme (Thymus vulgaris), a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family, Thyme is often used in aromatherapy, cooking, potpourri, mouthwashes and elixirs, as well as in ointments. It also has a number of medicinal properties due to its essential oils.1

The benefits of thyme essential oil have been recognized for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries.2 This substance is also a common agent in Ayurverdic practice.3 Today, among the many producers of thyme oil, France, Morocco and Spain emerge as the primary countries bottling this essential oil.4

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:5,6

Home remedy — Thyme oil may be used to help against 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 may be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.

Hair products — It is said that thyme oil may help prevent hair loss, and is even added to shampoos and other hair care products.

Skin products — Thyme oil may help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.

Mouthwashes and herbal rinses — Like peppermint, wintergreen and eucalyptus oils, thyme oil may be used to improve oral health.

Insecticide or insect repellent — Thyme oil can help keep insects and parasites such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice and moths away.

Composition of thyme oil

Thyme is an herb with many varieties and 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.7 Depending on which chemotype it is derived from, the oil of thyme produced will have a distinct chemical structure. The known chemotypes are:8,9,10

  • Thymus vulgaris thymol
  • Thymus vulgaris carvacrol
  • Thymus vulgaris 1,8 cineole
  • Thymus vulgaris phenol­
  • Thymus vulgaris thujanol
  • Thymus vulgaris geraniol
  • Thymus vulgaris p-cymene
  • Thymus vulgaris linalool
  • Thymus vulgaris alpha-terpineol

According to a 2016 study published in the journal Foods, the thymol chemotype exhibited the strongest antifungal activity, followed by the linalool and geraniol chemotype. Thymus vulgaris thymol also provides higher antioxidant properties compared to the other chemotypes mentioned above.11

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Benefits of thyme oil

As previously mentioned, thyme oil is an effective natural agent against nasty bacterial strains. A study12 presented at the Society for General Microbiology's spring conference in Edinburgh pointed out that essential oils may be efficient and affordable alternatives to antibiotics in the battle against resistant bacteria.

Among the essential oils tested, cinnamon oil and thyme oil were found to be the most successful against various Staphylococcus species, including the dreaded MRSA. Researchers said that this may help lower antibiotic use and minimize the formation of new resistant strains of microorganisms.

Oil of thyme may also function as a decontaminant for food products. As shown in Food Microbiology, both basil and thyme essential oils exhibited antimicrobial properties against Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri that may contaminate food. The compounds thymol and carvacrol in thyme oil demonstrated this benefit.13

Furthermore, thyme oil can be used as a preservative against spoilage and several foodborne germs that can contribute to health problems. It is effective against other forms of bacteria such as Salmonella, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas species.14,15

Other reports also show that oil of thyme has anti-inflammatory properties. In a research article published in the Journal of Lipid Research,16 six essential oils including thyme oil showed the ability to suppress the inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme in the same manner as the antioxidant resveratrol does.

It was noted that the chemical constituent carvacrol was responsible for this effect. The same study also noted that thyme and the other essential oils activated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which help suppress COX-2 expression.17 In addition to these, thyme oil helps:18

  • Reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Increase circulation and elevate low blood pressure
  • Trigger the removal of waste that may lead to cellulite
  • Stimulate menstrual flow
  • Ease nervousness and anxiety
  • Eliminate bad breath and body odor
  • Fight insomnia
8 amazing health benefits of thyme oil

How to make thyme oil infusion

Thyme essential oil is produced through the steam distillation of the fresh or partially dried leaves and flowers of the thyme plant. Distillation produces a red-, brown- or orange-colored thyme oil, which has a strong, spicy smell. Further distillation yields white thyme oil, a clear or pale-yellow oil with a mild fragrance.19

As mentioned before, its chemical composition varies depending on the type of thyme used in production. Fortunately, you can make infused thyme oil at home. Here's one guide you can use.20

Infused Thyme Oil

What You Need:

1/2 cup fresh thyme

8 ounces carrier oil (like olive oil)

Mortar and pestle



Glass container


1. Wash the herbs and pat them dry with a clean cloth. You may also dry them in the sun or place them in a salad spinner.

2. Crush the herbs using the mortar and pestle to release their natural oils.

3. Place the crushed thyme and its oil into the saucepan, and then mix the carrier oil. Simmer this mixture over medium heat for at least five minutes or until it produces bubbles.

4. Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the mixture into the glass container then store in a cool place.

How to does thyme oil work?

Thyme oil can be inhaled, applied topically or used as a mouthwash. Below are some particular ways to enjoy its benefits:21

Relieve pain — Mix three drops of thyme oil with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Use this mixture as a massage oil and apply on the abdominal area to relieve pain. This may also be used as a massage oil to treat other types of pain.

Alleviate fatigue — Add two drops of thyme oil to your bath water.

Improve sleep — Add a few drops to your diffuser.

Promote oral health — Use thyme oil as a mouthwash by adding one drop to a cup of warm water.

Reduce appearance of scars and skin marks — Apply oil of thyme mixed with any carrier oil (like almond oil) on the affected area.

Use as cleanser — Add a few drops of thyme oil to your facial wash.

Treat or protect against respiratory problems — Add two drops of thyme oil to hot water and use for steam inhalation.

Uplift mood — Simply inhale the scent of thyme oil.

Is thyme oil safe?

Thyme oil should not be applied directly on skin, as it can cause sensitization. It must be first diluted with a carrier oil (like olive oil or almond oil). Before use, test on a small area to see if you have any allergies.22

This herbal oil should not be ingested, as it can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle problems. Doing so may also negatively impact your heart, lungs and body temperature.23 It may also stimulate the thyroid gland, which is why this essential oil is not recommended for people with hyperthyroidism.

Since thyme oil can be used to increase circulation, it should be avoided by people with high blood pressure.24 Pregnant women should steer clear of thyme oil because it can stimulate menstrual flow.25 Thyme oil should also be kept away from infants and young children because they are sensitive.

Thyme Oil side effects

Use of thyme oil may result in allergic reactions, even when it's diluted. Some people who use it may experience dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. People with allergies to rosemary or mint oils should also stay away from thyme and its essential oil.26 Always consult a physician or anyone knowledgeable in essential oils before using one, especially if you're suffering from any disease or are taking certain medications.