Thyme, also known as thymus vulgaris, has a pleasing and distinct aroma, and has been used for centuries as a spice to add flavor to foods, but there’s much more to thyme than just its flavor and aroma. It’s also a source of nutrients, including vitamin K, iron and manganese. Additionally, thyme can help the body get rid of toxins that are known to cause respiratory, cellular, digestive and skin unhealth.
As far as respiratory health, thyme has been widely known for its ability to relieve respiratory problems such as bronchitis, coughs and chest congestion. Researchers have finally uncovered just what it is in thyme that makes it so effective for respiratory health. Those components are carvacolo, borneol, geraniol and thymol, with thymol being the most critical element of the bunch due to its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.
Likewise, studies have also shown that thymol in thyme can greatly increase the quantity of healthy fats—specifically the omega-3 fatty acid DHA—found in various bodily cell structures. While the increase is noted in many cells, it is found mostly in the brain, kidney and heart cell membranes.
But wait. There's more. A study published in Food Microbiology showed that thyme’s essential oil disinfected lettuce and made it immune from toxic bacteria called Shigella that can cause diarrhea, loose stools, vomiting, cramping, chills, headache, fever and nausea.
Speaking of bacteria. . . research out of the Metropolitan University of Leeds says that tinctures made from thyme can inactivate the main bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes that causes spots, whiteheads and cysts to form on the skin. In fact, the researchers noted that thyme had a greater and more positive effect on these types of skin conditions than benzoyl peroxide, which is commonly used to treat acne.
The lead researcher for this discovery, Dr. Margarita Gomez-Escalada, believes that thyme-made acne treatments are definitely in the future as sound alternatives for treating acne naturally. For those who go through standardized acne treatments, this may be welcome relief—literally—since most conventional treatments can irritate the skin or have a burning sensation associated with them. Additionally, the natural treatments using thyme are just as good—or even better—than those conventional treatments.
"We now need to carry out further tests in conditions that mimic more closely the skin environment and work out at the molecular level how these tinctures are working. If thyme tincture is proven to be as clinically effective as our findings suggest, it may be a natural alternative to current treatments," explains Dr. Gomez-Escalada.
Those are just a few of thyme’s tremendous traits! You see? It’s much more than just an aromatic spice.