Thyme has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Beyond its common culinary application, it has been recommended for a myriad of indications, based upon proposed antimicrobial, antitussive, spasmolytic and antioxidant activity. To date, there are no well-defined controlled clinical trials to support thyme monotherapy for use in humans.
Thymol, one of the constituents of thyme, is contained in antiseptic mouthwashes, with limited clinical studies in the available literature to verify its efficacy as a monotherapy in dental outcomes, such as reductions in plaque formation, gingivitis and caries.
Traditional uses of thyme include for coughs and upper respiratory congestion; it continues to be one of the most commonly recommended herbs in Europe for these indications. The German Commission E (expert panel), has approved thyme for symptoms of bronchitis, whooping cough, and catarrh (inflammation of upper respiratory tract mucous membranes).
Experts have recommended the use of thymol in treatment of actinomycosis (lumpy jaw disease), onycholysis (separation or loosening of a fingernail or toenail from its nail bed), and paronychia (inflammation of the tissue surrounding a fingernail or toenail) due to its antifungal properties..
Common thyme, common garden thyme, English thyme, farigola, folia thymi, French thyme, garden thyme, Gartenthymian, herba thymi, herba timi, Labiatae (family), Lamiaceae (family), mother of thyme, red thyme, rubbed thyme, serpyllium, shepherd's thyme, Spanish thyme, ten, thick leaf thyme, time, timo, thym, thyme aetheroleum, thyme oil, thymi herba, Thymian, Thymus serpyllum, thymus zygis L., wild thyme, white thyme oil.
Note: There are up to 400 subspecies of thyme; common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Spanish thyme (Thymus zygis) are often used interchangeably for medicinal purposes. Not to be confused with calamint (calamintha ascendens, basil thyme) or with Spanish origanum oil (Thymus capitatus, Sicilian thyme, Spanish thyme).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Alopecia areata (hair loss)
There is currently insufficient information to recommend for or against the use of topical thyme oil for alopecia areata.
Bronchitis / cough
Thyme has traditionally been used for the treatment of respiratory conditions including cough and bronchitis. The German Commission E (expert panel), has approved thyme for use in bronchitis. However, due to a lack of available data evaluating thyme alone (and not in any combination products), additional study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
One of thyme's main constituents, thymol, has antibacterial effects. Thymol is included as one of several ingredients in antiseptic mouthwashes such as Listerine®. Clinical studies have reported efficacy of Listerine® in decreasing plaque formation and gingivitis, although human evidence for thymol alone is limited.
Inflammatory skin disorders
Historically, thyme has been used topically for a number of dermatologic (skin) conditions. Results are mixed. Additional study is needed in this area.
Paronychia / onycholysis / antifungal
Thyme essential oil and thymol have antifungal effects. Topical thymol has been used traditionally in the treatment of paronychia (skin infection around a finger or toenail) and onycholysis (separation/loosening of the nail from the nail bed)