Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Historical note Although thyme has been used as a cooking spice for
centuries in Europe, it is also used medicinally to treat common infections,
coughs, bronchitis and asthma. The 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper
recommended thyme for whooping cough, gout, stomach pains and shortness
of breath. It was also used in perfumes and embalming oils. In medieval times
the plant was seen as imparting courage and vigour (Blumenthal et al 2000).
Common thyme, garden thyme, farigola, folia thymi, gartenthymian, herba thymi,
almindelig timian, thym, thymian, thymianblätter, timo
Thymus vulgaris (family Lamiaceae or Labiatae)
PLANT PARTS USED
Leaves and flowering tops
The primary constituents are the volatile oils (1–2.5%), which include phenols (0.5%),
namely thymol (30–70%), eugenol, and carvacrol (3–15%), also flavonoids, apigenin,
luteolin and saponins and tannins. Rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid and calcium are also
found in significant quantities (Duke 2003). The herb also contains bitter principles
Although thyme has not been significantly investigated in human studies, there has
been some investigation into the activity of thymol and the volatile oil component of
the herb. It is not known whether results obtained for these constituents are
representative for the crude herb, but they provide some further understanding. Both
the essential oil and thymol are ingredients in many proprietary products.
ANTITUSSIVE AND ANTISPASMODIC EFFECTS
These actions have been attributed to the phenolic compounds in thyme (WHO
2003). Antispasmodic effects on trachea and guinea pig ileum have been
demon-strated for these constituents.
The saponin content is believed to have expectorant
activity, as demonstrated in animal studies.