Thyme: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Thyme: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Thyme is cultivated practically worldwide, but increasingly in Central Europe, India, East Africa, Israel, Morocco, Turkey and North America. The natural thyme comes from Central and Southern Europe, the Balkan countries and the Caucasus. Thymus zygis is native to the Iberian Peninsula, and the drug comes primarily from cultivation in Germany.

Thyme in herbal medicine

The dried leaves and flowers (thyme herb, thymi herba) of the two stem plants stripped from the stems and the essential oil (thymi aetheroleum) are used in herbal medicine.


Thyme: special characteristics

Thyme is an aromatic, richly branched dwarf shrub up to 5 cm high with small, elliptical, opposite leaves that are hairy on the underside. The leaf edges are often rolled down.

The violet flowers of the shrub are in capitate inflorescences. Thyme is very sensitive to frost, which must be considered when growing.

Which species is used as a medicinal plant?

Thymus zygis also serves as a parent plant for thyme herb. In addition, less effective species such as field thyme (Thymus serpyllum), medicinal thyme (Thymus pulegioides) or lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodora) are also often used.


Peculiarities of the drug

The leaves of the common thyme are ovate, and the leaf margin is curled down. The upper side is green, and the underside is grey and felt with many small glands. Usually, only the calyx can be seen in the violet flowers, which are covered with short hairs and white bristles at the base.

The leaves of Thymus zygis do not have stalks, are needle-shaped and curled at the edge. In contrast to natural thyme, they are green to grey-green on both sides and hairy.

What does thyme smell and taste like?

Thyme gives off a characteristic, very intense and aromatic smell. The taste of thyme is fragrant and somewhat spicy.

Thyme – application

Thyme preparations primarily treat respiratory diseases such as colds and bronchitis. In the case of irritation and whooping cough, thyme relieves the coughing fits.

Beneficial effects of thyme

The plant can also relieve gastrointestinal problems such as flatulence or stomach cramps.

Thyme is used locally for inflammation of the mouth and throat mucous membranes and minor wounds. The essential oil can be used as a bath additive for itchy skin and inflamed bronchial mucous membranes.


Used in folk medicine and homeopathy

Thyme has been used as a medicinal herb for a very long time. The herb was used by the Egyptians, for example, to embalm their dead. Because of its antispasmodic effect, thyme is used in folk medicine today as a stomachic, flatulence-relieving, diuretic and anthelmintic.

However, another significant use of thyme is in the spice kitchen and as an additive to many alcoholic beverages.

In homoeopathy, thyme is taken for bronchial diseases.

ingredients of thyme

As the most important complex of active ingredients, the essential oil in thyme varies significantly in its exact composition. Good quality oil is high in thymol and carvacrol.

Other ingredients are tannins, phenolic acids, caffeic acid, flavonoids, triterpenes and several polymethoxyflavones.


Thyme: indication

Medicinal uses of thyme are:

Thyme – dosage

Thyme can be taken in the form of tea. The herb is available in filter bags or as part of various tea blends in the cough and cold teas group.

Thyme as medicine

As an herbal medicine, thyme can be taken as juices, suppositories, drops, lozenges and coated tablets. The dry extract is also contained in tablets and capsules.

Thyme oil can be used internally or externally and is a component of drops, juices, ointments, baths and ointments.


The right dose

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is about 6-8 g of the drug in the infusion (tea) or 3-6 g of the fluid extract. A 5% infusion is recommended for poultices.

Thyme: Preparation as a tea

To prepare a tea, 1.5-2 g of thyme (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 1.4 g) is poured over with boiling water, left to steep for 10 minutes, and passed through a tea strainer.


Contraindications for the use of thyme

Thyme should not be taken if you have a known allergy to mint plants, birch pollen or celery. A doctor should be consulted before treatment with thyme during pregnancy and lactation.

Thymol and carvacrol may aggravate severe liver damage or thyroid dysfunction. Therefore, in these cases, a doctor should also be consulted before treatment with thyme.

The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.

Thymian – Synonyme

German plant name: Thymian

German synonyms of the plant: Real thyme, garden thyme, spice thyme, humility, maiden humility, between, tripe, Spanish Kudelkraut, Wurstlkraut, Roman quendel, Welscher quendel, Kunerle, Zimis

Latin plant name: Thymus vulgaris L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Summer Thymus

German drug name: Thymian

German synonyms of the drug: thyme herb

Latin drug name: Thyme herb

English name: Thyme, Common thyme, Culinary thyme, English thyme, French thyme, Garden thyme, Summer thyme, Winter thyme

Plant family Latin: Lamiaceae

Plant family German: Lamiaceae, Lamiaceae


Thyme – effect

Thymol has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. However, it only inhibits the growth of certain bacteria, such as a pathogen that causes tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and a pathogen that causes gastric and intestinal ulcers ( Helicobacter pylori ).

Other effects of thyme

The polymethoxyflavones are said to have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antitussive effects. Experiments have shown that thyme extracts can relieve spasms in the respiratory tract.


Thyme: side effects

Very rarely, hypersensitivity reactions can occur when taking thyme preparations, such as: 

  • shortness of breath
  • skin rashes
  • swelling
  • hives
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • nausea or vomiting

These side effects do not apply to using thyme as a spice.

Interactions with other agents are currently not known.

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