Thanks to its distinctive taste, thyme has remained a culinary staple to this day. But thyme also boasts a slew of helpful medicinal qualities.
Thyme’s benefits include:
- fighting acne
- lowering blood pressure
- helping to alleviate cough
- boosting immunity
- repelling pests
- boosting mood
- culinary uses
- preventing bacterial infections
- helping to treat yeast infections
- possibly helping against certain types of cancer
Want to learn more about how this humble spice does so much? Dig into the research below.
If you’re tired of buying and trying over-the-counter acne medication with no good results, you may be in luck. Thyme is known for its antibacterial properties, and it might have a future as an acne-fighting ingredient.
When thyme is steeped in alcohol for days or weeks, it turns into a solution known as a tincture.
In an older 2010 study, thyme essential oil was found to have antibacterial activity against P. acnes, the bacteria thought to cause acne. However, we still don’t know if thyme oil actually reduces pimples.
Thymus linearis Benth. is a species of thyme found in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A 2014 study found that an extract was able to significantly lower heart rate in rats with high blood pressure. It was also able to lower their cholesterol.
Still, we need human studies to confirm these effects.
Thyme essential oil, which is obtained from its leaves, is often used as a natural cough remedy.
In one older 2006 study, a combination of thyme and ivy leaves helped to alleviate coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis.
A 2018 study found a combination of thyme and primula extracts to reduce inflammation and mucous in an animal model.
Next time you’re faced with a cough or sore throat, try drinking some thyme tea.
Getting all the vitamins your body needs every day can be challenging.
Luckily, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that thyme is packed with helpful nutrients, including:
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
However, thyme isn’t a great source of these nutrients unless you consume it in excessive quantities. For example, 1 teaspoon of thyme has 1.28 milligrams of vitamin C — according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that’s only 1 percent of your daily needs.
Mold is a common yet potentially dangerous air pollutant that can lurk in your home. Once you identify it, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to get rid of it once and for all. In some cases, thyme oil may be the answer.
A 2017 study showed that thyme may be effective at controlling gray mold rot in guava fruit.
These effects may translate to mold in the home as well.
An older 2007 study suggests thyme can be used as a disinfectant in dwellings where there’s a low concentration of mold.
Still, if you find significant mold in your home, it’s best to hire a professional to remove it.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that thymol, a kind of thyme oil, is also an ingredient in many pesticides — both outdoor and indoor — and is commonly used to target:
- other animal pests
A 2021 study showed thyme essential oil to be effective against adult mosquitoes and their larvae.
You can make a homemade repellant by mixing 4 drops of thyme oil for every teaspoon of olive oil, or mixing 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water.
You can now find organic and natural skin care products at most retailers, and many contain thyme.
Thyme is also a popular ingredient in natural deodorants and is often included in potpourri.
You can use thyme essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser to potentially reap the benefits of its mood-boosting properties, though more research is needed.
Thyme essential oil is often used for aromatic and therapeutic purposes because of its active substance, carvacrol.
In a 2013 animal study, carvacrol was shown to increase concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that regulate mood.
If you use thyme or thyme oil regularly, it might have a positive effect on your feelings and mood. Still, more human studies are needed.
Thyme is a wonderful ingredient that’s used in cuisines around the world, particularly in France, Italy, and across the Mediterranean.
Thyme is a main ingredient in this tasty take on pesto sauce, which you can use as a condiment or add to pasta or rice.
Fresh leaves or whole sprigs can be used while preparing meat or poultry. Thyme is also an excellent ingredient to use with fish, like in this heart-healthy white fish recipe.
This whole wheat macaroni and cheese with mushrooms and thyme is a grown-up spin on a childhood favorite, and it’s a great way to add some thyme to your diet.
Thyme may also have a positive effect on the safety and longevity of cooking oils. A 2012 study indicated that thyme extract might prolong the stability of sunflower oil at different temperatures as well as provide antioxidant effects.
You can make your own thyme-infused oil by following this recipe. Still, there’s no guarantee that this homemade version will affect your oil’s stability.
Ever had food poisoning? Thyme may be able to help prevent it.
A 2013 in vitro study found that thyme oil showed potential as a natural preservative of food products against several common foodborne bacteria that cause human illness, even at low concentrations.
In addition, a 2011 in vitro study found thyme oil effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas bacteria.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that ingesting thyme oil will prevent you from getting food poisoning. Plus, if you were to take thyme supplements on a regular basis, you’d also likely be killing a lot of the good bacteria in your gut.
Thyme isn’t just potentially effective against bacteria. It may pack some punch when it comes to fungus too.
A 2021 in vitro study found very low doses of thyme essential oil to be fungicidal against Candida albicans, a common cause of yeast infections, even when the fungus was resistant to the prescription medication fluconazole.
Still, human research is needed to know whether ingesting thyme oil can treat Candida.
A 2018 in vitro study found both thyme and clove essential oils to inhibit breast cancer cell lines. A 2021 study replicated these results.
These studies only provide very weak evidence of a potential benefit of thyme for cancer, and human studies are needed to confirm any potential benefits.
Thyme is a versatile herb with a broad wheelhouse of beneficial uses. Still, most of the research has been in lab or animal studies, so the scientific evidence to support these beneficial uses is fairly weak. Using thyme shouldn’t replace medical care and treatment.
If you’re interested in diving into the benefits of thyme, you may want to explore complementary and alternative medicine by finding a qualified professional, like a naturopath or osteopath, in conjunction with conventional treatment.
It can enhance your cooking, your health, your skin, and even the scent of your space. It might be about thyme to add this multipurpose plant to your toolkit.