Thyme: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More by Dr. Rajeev Singh

Thyme: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More by Dr. Rajeev Singh


Thyme adds flavor to pasta sauces and enhances them with a delicate taste and smells like summer. It has greenish gray leaves with a distinct aroma. The scientific name for thyme is Thymus vulgaris L, and it belongs to the family Lamiaceae. It is native to southern Europe and countries bordering the Mediterranean. In addition, they are also found in many regions with temperate climates. The Greek term for Thyme is derived from the word “fumiger”, which may refer to the fragrance produced by burning Thyme as incense in ancient Greek temples. Thyme oil consists of high concentrations of phenolic compounds.1 Learn more about thyme and its medicinal properties.

Nutritional value of thyme:

Thyme oil consists of high concentrations of phenolic compounds. Among other herbs, fresh thyme has the highest antioxidant activities. It is loaded with multiple phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins essential for optimal health. The nutritional components of thyme are in the table below.1,2

Nutrition component Value
Calcium 405g
Iron 17.45mg
Magnesium 160mg
Manganese 106mg
Potassium 609mg
Sodium 9mg
Zinc 1.81mg
Vitamin A 4751 IU
Vitamin B1 0.48mg
Vitamin B2 0.471mg
Vitamin B3 1.824mg
Vitamin B5 0.348mg
Vitamin B6 0.409mg
Vitamin C 160.1mg

Table 1: Nutritional value of thyme per 100 g2

Properties of Thyme:

Thyme has been studied for its many properties that are responsible for the health benefits of thyme; some of these properties are mentioned below:

  • It could act as an antioxidant
  • It may show anti-inflammatory activity
  • It may have respiratory benefits
  • It could reduce the pain
  • It may be neuroprotective1
  • It can act as an antiseptic
  • It might show antispasmodic properties
  • It can relieve cough
  • It can act as an antimicrobial2

Potential uses of thyme for overall health:

The phenolic compound thymol is present in thyme and responsible for its antioxidant activity. Some of the potential benefits of thyme are:2

Potential uses of thyme for respiratory diseases:

Thyme is used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, whooping cough and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory system. It is also said to have antispasmodic, bronchiolitis and secretomotor qualities. Thyme bath oil is mentioned as a treatment for respiratory problems in the German Commission E study on herbal medicines. These drugs can irritate the lungs, causing them to secrete mucus and move their cilia faster through the bronchial epithelium, triggering a decongestant response.1 However, the medicinal uses of thyme might require additional studies to establish its exact effectiveness. If you have breathing problems, consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.

Potential uses of thyme for its antibacterial activity:

Prasanth et al. 2014 and Saleh et al. 2015 analyzed essential oils derived from thyme for their biological activity and chemical constituents. Thyme volatile oils have also been examined for their ability to suppress the growth of gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains. Moreover, according to Boruga et al. 2014, Phenolic chemicals in thyme essential oil may have antibacterial activity.2 However, more studies are needed to support these claims. If you have infections, consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.

Potential Uses of Thyme to Prevent Brain Deterioration

In vitro and in vivo studies have explained that thyme possesses phytochemicals influencing the ability to gain knowledge and understanding through experience, senses, thought, and mood.1 However, more studies are needed to support these findings and prove the use of thyme for brain benefits. If you have brain-related problems, consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.

Potential Uses of Thyme for Digestive Tract Conditions

Traditional remedies have been prepared using combinations of thyme to treat problems in the digestive tract. Very few studies have examined the exact effects of thyme on gastrointestinal tissues, and the results obtained from these studies are also inconsistent. Preclinical findings offer only preliminary evidence of thyme’s benefits for the gastrointestinal tract and frequently vary in experimental design. In addition, they used various samples of thyme and thyme oil and the selected thymol and carvacrol may be useful for digestive tract conditions.1 However, much more research is needed to spell out the potential uses mentioned above. If you have digestion-related problems, consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.

Other Potential Uses of Thyme

  1. Thyme is used in traditional medicine to treat coughs as well as depression, nightmares, epilepsy and headaches.
  1. In the popular medicinal system, the herbal remedy thyme is frequently used to treat infections of the intestine, stomach and respiratory tract and gastroenteritis, eliminate intestinal worms and strengthen the heart.
  1. Consuming Thyme Tea Benefits Regularly include a reduction in inflammation in several conditions. However, this effect needs to be further evaluated for conditions like arthritis.
  1. The antioxidant effects of vitamin A found in thyme may be essential for maintaining healthy mucous membranes, skin, and eyesight.1,2

Although studies show the benefits of thyme in various conditions, these are insufficient and need more research to establish the benefits of thyme on human health.

How to use thyme?

Thyme can be used in the following ways:

  • Thyme is combined with other herbs to prepare home remedies
  • Thyme tea
  • thyme essential oil
  • As a seasoning and spice in food preparations2

You should consult a doctor before taking large amounts of thyme or any other herbal supplement. Likewise, consult a qualified physician before discontinuing or replacing ongoing modern medical treatment with an Ayurvedic/herbal preparation.

Side effects of thyme:

There are no proper side effects related to thyme and its herbal combinations. The Council of Europe has added it to its list of food products. Animal studies have also shown its safe use for culinary purposes.

  • Animal studies also report that thyme might show toxic effects at higher doses.
  • Humans may experience mild allergic reactions to external use of thyme-containing products.1

It is therefore advisable to consult an Ayurvedic doctor before using thyme for any medical benefit. Also, if you experience any adverse reactions to thyme, immediately contact a physician or your Ayurvedic physician who prescribed it for you. They will guide you appropriately for your symptoms.

Precautions to take with Thyme:

A general precaution to follow is to avoid health problems. Do not self-medicate, substitute or discontinue any treatment as it may have unknown effects.

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should exercise particular caution. Thyme can only be consumed during pregnancy if advised by your Ayurvedic physician.
  • We must be careful when including thyme in the diets of children and the elderly.

Interactions with other medicinal products:

The active GABAergic constituents (the reactions of these constituents can either stimulate or block neurotransmission) in thyme may enhance the effects of general anesthetics. Additionally, if taken in higher amounts, the constituents of thyme can interact with drug-related enzymes and certain medications. Although unlikely at dietary intake amounts, it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking any herb for its benefits.1

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the vitamins in thyme and what are their benefits?

Thyme contains certain vitamins which are beneficial for us. The antioxidant benefits of vitamin A are responsible for the benefits of thyme for the skin, maintaining healthy mucous membranes and improving vision. Vitamin C destroys free radicals that cause inflammation and resists infectious diseases. Vitamin B6, present in the grass, acts as an anti-stress. It also includes vitamin K, vitamin E and folic acid.2

What is thymol and what are its main benefits?

Thymol is one of the most important essential oils found in thyme. It is well known for its antifungal and antibacterial qualities.2

Can thyme help reduce inflammation?

Regular consumption of thyme could help reduce inflammation in several conditions. However, this effect needs to be further evaluated for conditions like arthritis.

What are the potential side effects of thyme?

It is generally considered safe to use thyme for culinary and other purposes in small doses. Still, it might show toxic effects at higher doses, as shown in animal studies. Additionally, some studies also show that thyme products can cause mild allergic reactions in humans when applied topically. Therefore, an Ayurvedic physician should be consulted for the use of thyme for health effects to understand its exact benefits and possible side effects.

How to use Thyme?

Thyme can be used in several ways. Most popularly, thyme is used as a seasoning and spice in food preparations. Thyme essential oil can be used for its medicinal benefits, while thyme tea can help reduce inflammation. Thyme combinations can be used in many home remedies. You can also use the herb thyme for cough. 2 You should follow general precautions. It is advised not to self-treat, substitute or discontinue treatment, as it may have unknown effects.

The references:

  1. Singletary K. Thyme: History, Applications, and Overview of Potential Health Benefits. Food today. 2016 Jan 1;51(1):40-9. Available at:,_Applications,_and_Overview_of.10.aspx
  1. Dauqan EM, Abdullah A. Medicinal and functional values ​​of thyme herb (Thymus vulgaris L.). Journal of Applied Biology and Biotechnology. 2017 Mar 20;5(2):0-2. Available at:

Disclaimer: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Due to unique individual needs, the reader should consult with their physician to determine the suitability of the information for the reader’s situation.

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