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

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more


Thyme adds flavour to pasta sauces and enhances them with a delicate taste and smells like summer. It has greenish-grey leaves with a distinct aroma. The scientific name of Thyme is Thymus vulgaris L, and it belongs to the family Lamiaceae. It originates from Southern Europe and countries bordering the Mediterranean. Further, they are also found in many areas with temperate climates. The Greek term for Thyme is derived from the word “to fumigate,” which might refer to the fragrance produced by burning Thyme as incense in ancient Greek temples. Thyme oil consists of high concentrations of phenolic compounds.1 Let us read 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 optimum health. The nutritional components of thyme are in the table below.1,2 

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

          Table 1: Nutritional value of thyme per 100gm2 

I encountered an interesting study indicating that thyme may offer potential benefits in reducing pain and muscular spasms associated with primary dysmenorrhea. The results suggest that thyme might be effective in alleviating the severity of pain during menstrual cramps.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Properties of Thyme: 

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

  • It might act as an antioxidant 
  • It may show anti-inflammatory activity 
  • It might have respiratory benefits 
  • It might reduce pain 
  • It might be neuroprotective1 
  • It may act as antiseptic 
  • It might show antispasmodic properties 
  • It may relieve cough 
  • It may act as anti-microbial2 

Through my observations, I have noticed that thyme has been traditionally utilised for its healing properties, particularly in managing cuts, bruises, and scrapes. Products containing thyme might be applied topically to expedite the healing process, while consuming thyme may help reduce inflammation within the body.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Thyme for Overall Health: 

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

Potential uses of thyme for respiratory diseases: 

Thyme is used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, whooping cough, and mucosal inflammation of the respiratory system. It is also said to have antispasmodic, bronchiolitis, and secretomotor qualities. The thyme bath oil is mentioned as a treatment for respiratory problems in the German Commission E study on herbal medicines. These medications may irritate the lungs, causing them to secrete mucus and move their cilia more quickly in the bronchial epithelia, which triggers a decongestive response.1 However, Thyme medicinal uses might need further studies to establish its exact efficacy. If you have any respiratory issues, 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 analysed the essential oils derived from thyme for their biological activity and chemical components. The volatile oils of thyme were also examined for their ability to suppress the growth of gram-negative and gram-positive bacterial strains. Further, 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 any infections, consult your doctor, and do not self-medicate. 

Potential uses of thyme to prevent brain deterioration 

Both in vitro and in vivo studies explained that thyme possesses phytochemicals influencing the ability to acquire 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 any brain-related issues, consult your doctor, and do not self-medicate. 

Potential uses of thyme for digestive tract ailments 

Traditional remedies have been prepared using thyme combinations to treat digestive tract issues. Very few studies have examined the exact effects of thyme on gastrointestinal tissues, and the results obtained from these studies are also inconsistent. The preclinical findings offer only preliminary proof of thyme advantages for the gastrointestinal tract and frequently vary in experimental design. Further, they employed various samples of thyme and thyme oil and selected thymol and carvacrol may be helpful for digestive tract ailments.1 However, much more extensive research is required to state the above-mentioned potential uses. If you have any digestive-related issues, consult your doctor, and do not self-medicate.  

Other Potential uses of Thyme 

  1. Thyme is used in traditional medicine to cure coughs as well as depression, nightmares, epilepsy, and headaches. 
  1. In the folk medicinal system, the thyme medicinal plant is frequently used to cure bowel, stomach, and airway infections and gastroenteritis, remove intestinal worms, and strengthen the heart. 
  1. Regularly consuming thyme tea benefits include reduced inflammation in several conditions. However, this effect needs to be further evaluated for conditions like arthritis. 
  1. Antioxidant effects of vitamin A present in Thyme may be essential for keeping healthy mucous membranes, skin, and eyesight.1,2 

Though studies show the benefits of Thyme in various conditions, these are inadequate, and require more research is required to establish the benefits of Thyme on human health.  

In my opinion, thyme might be a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients. This rich nutrient profile may play a vital role in boosting the immune system and promoting overall health and well-being.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

How to Use Thyme? 

Thyme may be used in the following ways: 

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

You must meet a doctor before taking Thyme in large quantities or any other herbal supplements. Likewise, consult a qualified doctor before discontinuing or replacing an 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 added it to its list of food items. Animal studies have also shown its safe usage for culinary purposes.  

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

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

Precautions to Take with Thyme:  

A general precaution to be followed is to avoid health issues. Do not self-medicate, substitute, or discontinue any treatment, as it might have unknown effects. 

  • Women who are pregnant or nursing need to use special caution. Thyme can only be consumed during pregnancy if your Ayurvedic doctor advises it. 
  • We must be cautious while including Thyme in the diets of children and older people. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

GABAergic active constituents (reactions of these constituents might be stimulating or blocking neurotransmission) in thyme might enhance the effects of general anaesthetics. Further, if taken in higher amounts, the constituents of thyme can interact with drug-related enzymes and some medications. Although this is improbable at dietary amounts of intake, it is advisable to meet a doctor before taking any herb for its benefits.1    

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are vitamins present in thyme, and what are their benefits?  

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

What is thymol, and what are its major benefits? 

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

Can thyme help in reducing inflammation? 

Regular consumption of thyme might help to 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 some toxic effects at higher doses, as shown in animal studies. In addition, some studies also show that thyme products might have mild allergic reactions in humans on topical applications. 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 can we use Thyme?

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


  1. Singletary K. Thyme: history, applications, and overview of potential health benefits. Nutrition Today. 2016 Jan 1;51(1):40-9. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Fulltext/2016/01000/Thyme_History,_Applications,_and_Overview_of.10.aspx 
  1. Dauqan EM, Abdullah A. Medicinal and functional values of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) herb. Journal of applied biology and biotechnology. 2017 Mar 20;5(2):0-2. Available from: https://jabonline.in/admin/php/uploads/188_pdf.pdf  

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