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Thyme Essential Oil Uses, Benefits and Warnings

Thyme Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

What is Thyme Essential Oil?

Thyme essential oil is a yellow and aromatic substance distillate from the aerial parts of  Thymus vulgaris plant. 

The different ecotypes of thyme are characterized by their very penetrating and concentrated aroma, which is mainly spicy, fresh and balsamic.

This is one of the ten most important essential oils that exists, due to the wide range of uses in which it can contribute with its benefits.

It has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times and has an extensive list of health benefits recognized throughout the Mediterranean. In addition, its use in phytotherapy is well established and supported in the scientific literature.

Thyme essential oil blends well with essential oils of lavender, lemon, rosemary, bergamot, pine, chamomile, palmarosa, cedarwood, juniper, neroli, mandarin, melissa, and tea tree. Rosemary and thyme oil are the classic blend for hair treatments.

Red Thyme or White Thyme?

There are two varieties of thyme essential oil: red and white. The red thyme oil is a crude distillate and has a high phenol percentage. White thyme oil, on the other hand, is obtained by re-distilling the red oil and yields a lower phenol content.

The therapeutic value and biological activities of thyme essential oil, depend entirely on the phenol content in it.  However, red thyme oil should be used with caution given its high phenol content, reason why, people prefer to acquire white thyme oil instead.

Overuse of red thyme oil can easily cause skin irritations. Besides, it should not be used with pregnant women or children due to its potent components. Also, when using it for aromatherapy purposes, make sure you dilute red thyme oil, as well as white, with a carrier oil.

Origin of Thyme

Thymus Vulgaris L. is native of Mediterranean countries, growing abundantly over wide areas in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Algeria and Morocco. Moreover, it is also cultivated in other parts of Europe and North America, North Asia and Oceania.

This wonderful plant is popularly known as common thyme, tremoncillo, thyme salsero and Spanish thyme, among other names.

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It is a vivacious spice, branched and small in size, with small and very aromatic greenish-gray leaves, and clusters of flowers that can be purple or pink. Thyme blooms when summer begins.

Another interesting fact is that when thyme is in the process of resting, it produces crystals of camphor, which are widely used in perfumery.

Today, this species that has more than 300 varieties, is predominantly found in the Mediterranean region, although it can also be found in Asia.

It is considered one of the most important and used medicinal plants, due to its versatility and its therapeutic properties.

Thyme in History

The name Thyme, in its Greek form, was first given to the plant by the Greeks as a derivative of a word which meant “to fumigate”,  either because they used it as incense, for its balsamic aroma, or because it was taken as a type of all sweet-smelling herbs.

Others derive the name from the Greek words “thyo”, meaning perfume or Thymus, signifying courage.  The plant being held in ancient and medieval days to be a great source of invigoration, its pleasant qualities inspiring courage.

Another source quotes its use by the Sumerians as long ago as 3, 500 BC and to the ancient Egyptians who called it “tham”.

In ancient Egypt, it was used as a purifying agent in the process of embalming bodies. It was also used as incense in temples and homes. As a result of this use, it spread throughout Europe.  Its use in funerals, guaranteed the passage to the next life.

On the other hand, in the middle age, women used it as a gift for men because that increased their courage.  

Likewise, it was used to relieve sleep by placing it under the pillows.

Throughout history and different cultures, we have benefited from its properties in the area of medicine, as well as its use in gastronomy.

Active Components of Thyme Essential Oil 

Among the main active chemical components of thyme essential oil are: thymol, carvacrol, a-pinene, b-pinene, camphene, p-cymene, b-caryophyllene, linalool, borneol, anethole, a-terpineol, b-myrcene, a-thujene, g-terpineol, flavonoids, amino acids and vitamins C.

Thyme oil also contains minerals: calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron; organic acids: nicotonic acid, oleanolic; and tannins.

Properties of Thyme Essential Oil

Among the properties provided by thyme oil, the following stand out:

  • Antifungal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antibiotic
  • Cicatrisant
  • Carminative
  • Anthelmintic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Antiviral
  • Antispasmodic
  • Expectorant
  • Antitussive
  • Antibroncholytic
  • Antioxidant
  • Diuretic
  • Depurative
  • Digestive
  • Bactericidal
  • Tonic
  • Intestinal antiseptic

In addition, it stimulates the immune and circulatory systems, activates the nervous system, relieves menstrual symptoms and can be used as an insect repellent.

Uses of Thyme Essential Oil

As mentioned above, thyme essential oil can have multiple applications and uses, which makes it indispensable for our natural medicine kit, both in terms of cosmetics and general health.

The leafy parts of thyme and its oil are utilized in foods for the flavor, aroma and preservation, and additionally, in folk medicines.

Thyme and Thyme oil have been used as fumigants, antiseptics, disinfectants, and mouth washes, just to name a few.  Now we will see some of its most common uses:

Homemade lotions and creams

Thyme essential oil is ideal for adding in the preparation of natural creams and lotions, either with beeswax, or a mixture of carrier and essential oils.

By adding a few drops of thyme essential oil we will obtain an excellent product for acne, since together with disinfecting, it will stimulate the natural defense mechanism of the skin.

To increase the anti-acne effect it is advisable to combine it with tea tree and lavender essential oils.

Skin conditions

In cases of any type of infection or problems such as herpes, pimples, eczema, wounds, etc. We can prepare the same cream that we saw in the previous point or a similar mixture of carrier and essential oils. For this purpose, it also combines well with tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus essential oil. In addition, you can use rosehip carrier oil for better cicatrization.

Headache and migraines

When we are prone to suffer from migraines or headaches, essential oils are a great natural alternative to chemical painkillers. To do it yourself, mix a teaspoon of olive oil with three drops of thyme essential oil and three drops of peppermint essential oil.

Then, apply the mixture all around the contour of your hairline, ie, forehead, temples, behind the ears and nape. Then, cover the entire hairline area with a wet handkerchief, like a hair ribbon.

At ten minutes, you will feel a very pleasant coolness that will considerably reduce pain and decrease inflammation.

Fluid retention, cellulite and tired legs

A fantastic alternative to treat these conditions is to use a mixture of carrier and essential oils to apply with cold compress or rub directly on the skin.

Thyme is a plant with vasoconstrictive essences that reduce inflammation by eliminating fluid retention. Other essential oils that work in synergy to reduce fluid retention and cellulite are peppermint, cypress and geranium.

Colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma

For all these infectious processes, we can use thyme infusions as well as their essential oil.

To get its benefits, it is best to use a diffuser or inhale it directly from the bottle. A few deep inhalations will carry to our lungs and, later, to the bloodstream, all the therapeutic properties.

Another essential oil with an incredible expectorant property is eucalyptus essential oil.  On the other hand,  patchouli essential oil will help you in case of suffering from influenza.

Genital infections

For any type of genital infection (included yeast infection Candidiasis) we can use thyme essential oil, adding 3-4 drops to a sitz bath. To increase the effects of this treatment, thyme works very well with patchouli and chamomile essential oil.  

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Insect repellent

This is one of the well-documented properties of thyme essential oil.

To remove insects from your home, you can prepare a mixture of regular water with a few drops of thyme oil.  Put it in a plastic spray bottle and spread it in the rooms.

In addition, you can add a couple of drops of thyme oil to your body lotion to keep mosquitoes away.

Natural deodorant

Its fresh and herbal fragrance makes it very suitable for use as a natural deodorant. To do this, make a blend of carrier and essential oils of your choice.  Then,  apply it on the skin of the armpits as you would with a conventional deodorant.

You can use oils that also help you nourish, hydrate and/or lighten your skin naturally. Citrus oils such as lemon, bergamot, orange, etc. will help you to attenuate the tone of your armpits at the same time it provides an exquisite aroma to the blend.

Homemade cleaning product

If you are one of those people who make their own natural cleaning products such as soap with washing nuts or any other natural soap, you can add (if you have not already done so) to your recipes a few drops of thyme essential oil.

Its fresh aroma and its disinfectant properties make it an essential oil very suitable for home cleaning products.

Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil

Powerful tonic for the immune system

The main component of thyme essential oil, thymol, is active against Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas.

The antiseptic and tonic properties of Thyme make it a useful tonic for the immune system in chronic, especially fungal, infections as well as an effective remedy for chest infections such as bronchitis, laryngitis, whooping cough, and pleurisy.

Thyme essential oil has even shown antibacterial action against strains resistant to antibiotics.

Natural protector of the digestive system

Thyme oil is incredibly useful in cases of assorted intestinal infections and infestations, like hookworms, indigestion, gastritis, ascarids, gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungi and yeasts such as Candida albicans.

It may also improve liver function and act as an appetite stimulant.

Besides, it will be used in treatment of cartilaginous tube, bronchial and urinary infections.

Relieves neuralgia, rheumatism and similar ailments caused by inflammation

Thyme essential oil is helpful in treatment of inflammation.  Thanks to that, it can relieves sciatica, neuralgia and rheumatic aches and pains. 

According to an investigation published in the Journal of Lipid Research, thyme oil showed the ability to suppress the inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme in the same manner as the antioxidant resveratrol does.

Excellent diuretic and depurative

Another of the benefits of this essential oil is that it acts as a diuretic, helping to increase urination and remove excess toxins from our body. In addition, it stimulates circulation, which may help lower concentrations of uric acid in our bloodstream.

On the other hand, its depurative action, purifies and detoxifies our organism, thus enhancing our body to function fluidly, and that the nutrients are correctly distributed to our system.

Thyme Essential Oil Uses and Benefits for Health

Great ally for skin health

It is used for skin issues like oily skin, eczema, acne, dermatitis and bug bites. A corrected product, “white Thyme oil” is also used and it is milder on the skin.

Besides, thymol, the main constituent in thyme oil, may have a helpful effect in the control of inflammatory processes present in many skin infections.

Antioxidant benefits

El-Nekeety et al., conducted an experiment to work out the elements of Thymus vulgaris L. oil and to evaluate the protecting effects of this oil against aflatoxininduce oxidative stress in rats.

Treatment with aflatoxins alone disturbs lipid profile in blood serum, decreases total antioxidant capability, increase creatinine, uric acid and nitric oxide in blood serum; and lipid peroxidation in liver and excretory organ attended with a sever histological changes within the liver tissues.

The oil alone at the two tested doses did not induce any important changes within the biochemical parameters or the histological image.

Combined treatment showed important enhancements of tested parameters and histological footage within the liver tissues. Moreover, this improvement was more pronounced within the cluster that received the high dose of the essential oil.

Fights bad breath and cavities

Another benefit offered by thyme essential oil is related to preventing and treating oral ailments. It is effective in promoting dental health and is an incredible natural remedy for gum disease and bad breath (halitosis).

Besides, thanks to its active principle, thymol and its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, thyme oil is used as a dental protector against bad breath, gingivitis, cavities and dental plaque.

Colorectal and breast cancer

A study published in Cancer Cell International in 2015, investigated the growth inhibitory and chemo-sensitization effects of naringenin (Nar), a natural flavanone purified from Thymus vulgaris, on human breast and colorectal cancer.

The findings of the study demonstrated that Nar induces apoptosis and potentiates the sensitivity of both, colorectal and breast cancer cells through multifactorial mechanisms including cell cycle arrest, up-regulation of the expression of pro-apoptotic genes, down-regulation of anti-apoptotic genes and inhibition of pro-survival signaling pathways.  For more information about this study, click here.

Nar therefore displays promise as a pro-apoptotic factor that may benefit colorectal and breast therapy.

However, further studies should be conducted in appropriate animal models of cancer, and ultimately, human cancer prevention trials should be performed.

Contributes to hormonal balance

Thyme oil inhibits the increase in progesterone and helps balance the production of hormones in the body, as well as for the treatment of fibroids.

In addition, thyme essential oil has incredible effects balancing progesterone levels.

An investigation carried out by the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, indicated that, among 150 herbs evaluated for the production of progesterone, thyme essential oil proved to be one of the six essential oils that has the highest hormonal stimulation, which delays menopause, and improves symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia. 

It is an excellent natural alternative for these symptoms.

Stimulates brain functions and memory

Its stimulating action favors cognitive functions such as learning, memory and attention. Something especially important during our growth stage and in elderly people.

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A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed the potential benefit of thyme essential oil as a dietary antioxidant, since it improved brain function and fatty acid composition in aged rats.

On the other hand, it slows down the neuronal aging process.

Thyme essential oil stimulates activity in the anxious framework, which makes it a cure for physical and mental weakness and also, to treat insomnia.

Respiratory tract diseases

The essential oil of thyme commonly is used as an antitussive and antispasmodic, as well as to treat dry coughs, bronchitis and laryngitis.

It contains terpines that stimulate the cilia (fine hair-like structures in the lower respiratory tract) to beat and increase mucous movement to the upper respiratory tract (expectorant action). Furthermore, it has an anti-inflammatory effect, resulting in decreased nitric oxide production.


Thyme Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

How is Thyme Essential Oil applied?

According to the European Pharmacopoeia, this natural medicine must be used in the following ways:

Topical use: In concentrations up to 10%, apply up to a maximum of three times a day. It can be used by rubbing two drops of oil on the area you want to relieve pain, or fight infections and rashes. It is recommended for oily skin, ulcerations, wounds, acne and insect bites.

Use in the bathtub: To relieve fatigue, stress, kill fungus on the feet, improve circulation, etc. You can apply 5 drops to the warm water of the bath.

Steam inhalation: If you want to decongest the nasal mucosa, add two drops of thyme oil to 2 liters of very hot water to inhale the steam.

Aromatherapy:  Thyme essential oil is used in the area of aromatherapy to calm states of anxiety and stress. In addition, it allows to regulate energy, recover vitality, strength and courage.

It collaborates in the improvement of memory and concentration, as well as face limiting situations, mood decay and low self-esteem.  This is achieved through the use of a diffuser or relaxing baths.

Mouthwash: If you want to use it as a mouthwash, add two drops of thyme essential oil to a half glass of water and gargle for 1-2 minutes.

Warnings and Contraindications when using Thyme Essential Oil

  • As with most essential oils, its use should be avoided in children under 6 years old.
  • Thyme oil should not be applied directly on the face, given the risk of laryngospasm.
  • Before applying it to the skin, perform a patch test on the inside of the wrist.
  • Do not use thyme oil if you have bleeding disorders.
  • In case you have a hormonal imbalance that gets worse with exposure to estrogen or heart problems, consult your doctor before using it.
  • If dyspnea, fever or purulent sputum occur, seek medical advice or a qualified healthcare professional immediately.
  • Thyme essential oil should not be taken internally, as it can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle problems. Doing so may also negatively impact your heart, lungs, and body temperature.

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  • Its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended, since there is not enough information regarding its effect for these situations.
  • It is discouraged in people with neurological or heart diseases.
  • If you are allergic to any of its components, suspend its use immediately. If unwanted or adverse reactions occur, consult a doctor or qualified healthcare professional.
  • It may also stimulate the thyroid gland, which is why this essential oil is not recommended for people with hyperthyroidism.
  • Since thyme oil can be used to increase circulation, certain varieties should be avoided by people with High blood pressure. Likewise, other species such wild thyme extract Thymus serpyllum L. has been shown to reduce blood pressure in animal studies.  Therefore, if you are under medication for hypertension, you should not use thyme oil, as it could cause a sudden decrease in your blood flow.
  • Dilute it always in a conductive substance (carrier oils, alcohol, water, etc), do not apply it directly on the skin, as it could irritate it.
  • Do not use in patients diagnosed with gastric ulcers or who suffer from enterocolitis.
  • In high doses it can cause allergic reactions and become neurotoxic.
  • Thyme essential oil should be kept away from infants and young children, who may be more sensitive to its effects.

Where to Buy Thyme Essential Oil?

In general, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not blended with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herbal stores.

If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, here are some recommendations:

Thyme SWBThyme Sweet White Essential Oil

Scent Characteristics: Fresh, warm, herbaceous, and slightly sweet scent.

Our 100% Pure Essential Oils are extracted from the root, bark, wood, seed, fruit, leaf, or flower of a freshly harvested plant.
We source only the finest quality essential oils from highly regarded suppliers and distillers from around the world, many with whom we’ve worked with for decades.
Many of our oils are steam-distilled or cold-pressed, therefore retaining the essential odor, aroma, taste, medicinal, and therapeutic properties of the plant, resulting in a superior quality, and highly concentrated essence.  Shop Here.

The following are also good quality essential oils that you can find on Amazon:

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Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:

  • Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
  • Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.



5 thoughts on “Thyme Essential Oil Uses, Benefits and Warnings

  1. Oh, I love this, and need to read it again! you have the basics laid out so clearly! Great job,

  2. I always prefer to use Red Thyme essential oils. This essential oil is the best performing of the thyme oils against all the bacteria. Also, Mixing red thyme with myrtle and roman chamomile essentials creates a very soothing and mild remedy for children.

  3. It’s wonderful to read about the various ways thyme essential oil can be used. The information provided is truly helpful for those looking to explore natural remedies.
    Thank you for sharing.

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