Botanical names Thymus vulgaris
Source Aerial parts
Processing Method Steam Distillation
Description / Color / Consistency A thin, clear, pale yellow liquid.
Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma A top note with a strong aroma, Thyme has a woody, medicinal scent described as spicy and green.
Blends With Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lavender, Rosemary and Pine.
Thyme has a spicy, warm, herbaceous aroma that is both powerful and penetrating. Known since ancient times as a medicinal herb, thyme contains large amounts of Thymol. Thyme oil is one of the strongest antioxidants known, and it has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times. Thyme supports the immune, respiratory, digestive, nervous and other body systems. It’s one of the best essential oils for hormones because it balances hormone levels helping women with menstrual and menopausal symptoms.
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs". In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women also often gave knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer.
The medicinal properties of thyme come mainly from its essential oils which are extracted through steam distillation of fresh flowers and leaves. The chief constituents of its essential oil are alpha-thujone, alpha-pinene, camphene, beta-pinene, para-cymene, alpha-terpinene, linalool, borneol, beta-caryophyllene, thymol, and carvacrol.
It is an irritant to some people and may cause allergic reactions in some cases. It is also a hypertensive substance that increases blood pressure, so those with high blood pressure should use it after consulting a doctor. It is an emmenagogue, therefore, it should be avoided during pregnancy.
Carvacryl methyl ether 3.0%
Quality Thyme oil may be adulterated with thymol, p-cymene, oregano oil, or other essential oils. There are some reconstituted thyme oils on the market, containing synthetic thymol. ‘Red thyme oil’ is often wholly synthetic.
Hazards Drug interaction; may inhibit blood clotting; skin irritation (low risk); mucous membrane irritation.
Cautions (oral) Anticoagulant medication, major surgery, peptic ulcer, hemophilia, other bleeding disorders.
Maximum dermal use level 1.3%
Our safety advice
Our dermal maximum for these three chemotypes of thyme oil is based on 80% total thymol and carvacrol content and a dermal limit of 1% for these constituents to avoid skin irritation.
Regulatory guidelines Has GRAS status.
Adverse skin reactions Undiluted thymeoil wasseverely irritating to both mice and rabbits; tested at 8% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing. Thyme oil is non-phototoxic. In a study of 200 consecutive dermatitis
patients, none were sensitive to 2% thyme oil on patch testing. In a CAM assay, an established model for detecting irritants, Origanum onites oil with 57.4% carvacrol and 11.6% thymol was strongly irritating. This irritation was due to thymol and not to carvacrol. In a 48 hour occlusive patch test on 50 volunteers, the highest concentration of thymol producing no adverse reaction was5%. Two brands of thyme absolute produced concentrationdependent irritation at 10%, 20% and 100%, but no irritation at 2% in fragrance-sensitive volunteers.
Cardiovascular effects Thymol and carvacrol inhibit platelet aggregation, an essential step in the blood clotting cascade.
Reproductive toxicity When thyme oil was fed to pregnant mice for two weeks, it had no effect on embryo development.
Hepatotoxicity Thymus zygis oil notably inhibited carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity due to marked radical scavenging activity.
T. vulgaris does exist; its relatively rare essential oil contains very little thymol, and is rich in (þ)- limonene and 1,8-cineole. Many chemotypes have been identified for thyme including 1,8-cineole, eugenol, linalool, methyl cinnamate, a-terpineol, a-terpinyl acetate, geraniol, geranyl acetate and (E)-sabinene hydrate. Most of these are not commercially available. The so-called ‘red thyme oil’ is not a different species or chemotype, it is usually Spanish thymol/carvacrol CT thyme oil, containing traces of metals (principally iron from the stills used in processing the oil) which have reacted with the thymol, causing it to turn orange or red.