Thyme

What other names is Thyme known by?

Common Thyme, Farigoule, Farigoulette, French Thyme, Frigoule, Garden Thyme, Huile Essentielle de Thym, Huile de Thym, Huile de Thym Blanc, Huile de Thym Rouge, Mignotise des Genevois, Oil of Thyme, Pote, Red Thyme Oil, Rubbed Thyme, Serpolet, Spanish Thyme, Thym, Thym Citron, Thym Commun, Thym des Jardins, Thym Maraîcher, Thym Vrai, Thym Vulgaire, Thyme Aetheroleum, Thyme Essential Oil, Thyme Oil, Thymi herba, Thymus vulgaris, Thymus zygis, Tomillo, Van Ajwayan, Vanya Yavani, White Thyme Oil.

What is Thyme?

Thyme is an herb. The flowers, leaves, and oil are used as medicine. Thyme is sometimes used in combination with other herbs.

Thyme is taken by mouth for bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throat, colic, arthritis, upset stomach, stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bedwetting, a movement disorder in children (dyspraxia), intestinal gas (flatulence), parasitic worm infections, and skin disorders. It is also used to increase urine flow (as a diuretic), to disinfect the urine, and as an appetite stimulant.

Some people apply thyme directly to the skin for hoarseness (laryngitis), swollen tonsils (tonsillitis), sore mouth, and bad breath.

Thyme oil is used as a germ-killer in mouthwashes and liniments. It is also applied to the scalp to treat baldness and to the ears to fight bacterial and fungal infections.

Thymol, one of the chemicals in thyme, is used with another chemical, chlorhexidine, as a dental varnish to prevent tooth decay.

In foods, thyme is used as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, red thyme oil is used in perfumes. It is also used in soaps, cosmetics, and toothpastes.

Possibly Effective for...

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Agitation. Early research suggests that attaching a pad containing thyme oil to the collar area of shirts does not reduce agitation in people with advanced dementia.
  • Hair loss (alopecia areata). There is some evidence that applying lavender oil in combination with the essential oils from thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood to the scalp improves hair growth in up to 44% of people with hair loss after 7 months of treatment..
  • Movement disorders (dyspraxia). Taking thyme oil, in combination with evening primrose oil, fish oils, and vitamin E, seems to improve movement disorders in children with dyspraxia.
  • Colic.
  • Ear infections.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the tonsils.
  • Preventing bedwetting.
  • Sore throat.
  • Bad breath.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the lungs and mouth.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of thyme for these uses.

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Thyme work?

Thyme contains chemicals that might help bacterial and fungal infections, and minor irritations. It also might relieve smooth muscle spasms, such as coughing.

Are there safety concerns?

Thyme is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in normal food amounts. Thyme is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as medicine for short periods of time. It can cause digestive system upset.

Thyme oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. In some people, applying the oil to the skin can cause irritation. But there isn't enough information to know whether thyme oil is safe to take by mouth in medicinal doses.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Thyme is LIKELY SAFE when consumed by children in normal food amounts. Thyme is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as medicine for short periods of time. There isn't enough information to know whether thyme oil is safe for children when applied to the skin or taken by mouth.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thyme is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when consumed in normal food amounts. But it's not known whether it's safe to use thyme in larger medicinal amounts. Stick to food amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Allergy to oregano and similar plants: People who are allergic to oregano or other Lamiaceae species might also be allergic to thyme.

Bleeding disorders: Thyme might slow blood clotting. Taking thyme might increase your risk of bleeding, especially if used in large amounts.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Thyme might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use thyme.

Surgery: Thyme might slow blood clotting, so there is some concern that it might increase the risk of extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using thyme at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some chemicals in thyme might increase levels of certain chemical in the body that work in the brain, heart, and elsewhere. Some drying medications called "anticholinergic drugs" can also increase these chemicals, but in a different way. These drying medications might decrease the effects of thyme and thyme might decrease the effects of drying medications.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and some medications used for depression (antidepressants).



Estrogens
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Thyme might attach to the same sites in the body as estrogen. By taking up these sites, thyme might reduce the number of sites available for estrogen. Taking thyme along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.



Medications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some chemicals in thyme might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications for Alzheimer's disease also affect these chemicals. Taking thyme along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications used for Alzheimer's disease.



Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Thyme might slow blood clotting. Taking thyme along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.



Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some chemicals in thyme might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions also affect these chemicals. Taking thyme with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.

Some of these medications for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.



Ketoprofen
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Thyme contains a chemical called thymol. Topical gels with thymol might increase the absorption of topical ketoprofen products when applied to the skin. This might increase the risk for side effects from ketoprofen.



Naproxen
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Thyme contains a chemical called thymol. Topical gels with thymol might increase the absorption of topical naproxen. This might increase the risk for side effects from naproxen.

Dosing considerations for Thyme.

The appropriate dose of thyme depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for thyme. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011