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Thyme is a plant found year-round that is native to the Mediterranean. It’s grown in many European countries, Morocco, and the United States. The flowers, leaves, and oil of thyme are used in herbal medicine. Aside from its uses in medicine, thyme is also used in cooking, perfumes, soaps, cosmetics, and toothpastes.
How is this product usually used?
Thyme is often used on the skin as a compress. The compress is prepared by pouring 1 cup of boiling water on 11 g of the dried leaves and flowers of thyme, letting it sit for 10 minutes, and using a cloth to apply it to the skin. The compress can be applied as needed. The same solution can be used buccally as a gargle.
Thyme is also taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) (by mouth). The dried leaves and flowers of thyme are used to make teas, extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredients, and tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solutions. The usual dose to prepare these is 1 g to 8.4 g used daily.
Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What is this product used for?
Thyme is used topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin in herbal medicine as an antisepticantiseptican agent that prevents or reduces infection from wounds and antimicrobial for minor cuts and scrapes (i.e., an agent that stops bacteria from growing and causing infection). It is also used in some mouthwashes for its antiseptic effect.
Topical thyme has also been used for alopecia areata (bald patches), laryngitislaryngitisinflammation of the throat with symptoms of hoarseness, loss of voice, coughing, or difficulty swallowing, bad breath, tonsillitis, and mouth inflammation.
Thyme taken by mouth is traditionally used in herbal medicine as:
- an expectorantexpectorantan agent that thins mucus (phlegm) so that it can be absorbed or coughed up (a medication that helps clear mucusmucusa moist and sticky substance produced by the mucous membranes from the airways) to help relieve bronchitis and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract
- to help relieve coughs
- to help relieve gastrointestinal gas
Other conditions that oral thyme has been used for include whooping cough, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, skin disorders, as an appetite stimulant, and dyspraxia (a neurological disorder that affects movement).
Thyme oil, used together with the oils of lavender, rosemary, and cedar wood, has been shown to improve hair growth for people with alopecia areata (bald patches). However, more evidence is needed to suggest thyme as a treatment option for alopecia areata.
Thyme, in combination with cowslip, may help bronchitis symptoms (e.g., cough, chest congestion and fever), but more evidence is needed.
Taking thyme together with evening primrose oil, fish oils, and vitamin E has been shown to benefit children with dyspraxia.
There is not enough evidence to support the use of thyme for any other condition.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
Thyme is safe for use and well-tolerated by most adults when used on the skin or when taken by mouth in the recommended daily amount for short periods of time. Side effects such as upset stomach have been reported.
People who have allergies to oregano and other plants of the Lamiaceae family may also have an allergic reaction to thyme.
Thyme dust, when inhaled, can block the airways making it hard to breathe.
Thyme oil, when applied to the skin, may cause skin irritation for some people.
Consult your health care provider before using thyme supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Using thyme in the amounts that are usually found in food appears to be safe for pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding.
You should consult a health care provider if your symptoms persist or worsen.
Thyme should not be taken at the same time as other herbs and supplements that have an anticoagulant (i.e., blood-thinning) effect. Many herbs and natural health products have this effect so it is important to consult a health care provider before taking any supplements while taking thyme.
There may be an interaction between thyme and the following:
- antiplatelet medications (e.g., aspirin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine)
- anticoagulant medications (e.g., warfarin)
- other blood thinners
- acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and cholinergic drugs (e.g., donepezil)
- anticholinergic drugs (e.g., benztropine, trihexylphenidyl)
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking this type of medication.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Thyme – Topical. Available at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=173&lang=eng [accessed April 24 2017]
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Thyme – Oral. Available at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=172&lang=eng [accessed April 24 2017]
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Thyme – Buccal. Available at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=174&lang=eng [accessed April 24 2017]
- Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Consumer Version ©2009 Thyme.
- Natural Standard. Natural Standard Professional Monograph: Thyme. ©2014
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Thyme – Oral. Available at: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=172. [accessed 20 May 2014]
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