Thyme is an herb. The flowers, leaves, and oil are used as medicine. Thyme is sometimes used in combination with other herbs.
Thyme is taken by mouth for bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throat, colic, arthritis, upset stomach, stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bedwetting, a movement disorder in children (dyspraxia), intestinal gas (flatulence), parasitic worm infections, and skin disorders. It is also used to increase urine flow (as a diuretic), to disinfect the urine, and as an appetite stimulant.
Some people apply thyme directly to the skin for hoarseness (laryngitis), swollen tonsils (tonsillitis), sore mouth, and bad breath.
Thyme oil is used as a germ-killer in mouthwashes and liniments. It is also applied to the scalp to treat baldness and to the ears to fight bacterial and fungal infections.
Thymol, one of the chemicals in thyme, is used with another chemical, chlorhexidine, as a dental varnish to prevent tooth decay.
In foods, thyme is used as a flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, red thyme oil is used in perfumes. It is also used in soaps, cosmetics, and toothpastes.
How it works
Thyme contains chemicals that might help bacterial and fungal infections, and minor irritations. It also might relieve smooth muscle spasms, such as coughing.
Some research suggests that taking thyme by mouth, in combination with various other herbs, improves symptoms of bronchitis such as coughing, fever, and increased production of sputum in adults, children, and teenagers.
Some research suggests that taking thyme by mouth, alone or in combination with various other herbs, reduces coughing in people with bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections, or common colds.
Thyme is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in normal food amounts
Thyme is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as medicine for short periods of time. It can cause digestive system upset.Thyme oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. In some people, applying the oil to the skin can cause irritation. But there isn't enough information to know whether thyme oil is safe to take by mouth in medicinal doses.
Children: Thyme isLIKELY SAFEwhen consumed by children in normal food amounts. Thyme isPOSSIBLY SAFEwhen taken as medicine for short periods of time. There isn't enough information to know whether thyme oil is safe for children when applied to the skin or taken by mouth.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thyme is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when consumed in normal food amounts. But it's not known whether it's safe to use thyme in larger medicinal amounts. Stick to food amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Allergy to oregano and similar plants: People who are allergic to oregano or other Lamiaceae species might also be allergic to thyme.
Bleeding disorders: Thyme might slow blood clotting. Taking thyme might increase your risk of bleeding, especially if used in large amounts.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Thyme might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use thyme.
Surgery: Thyme might slow blood clotting, so there is some concern that it might increase the risk of extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using thyme at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
ModerateMedications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors)
Some chemicals in thyme might increase levels of certain chemical in the body that work in the brain, heart, and elsewhere. Some drying medications called "anticholinergic drugs" can also increase these chemicals, but in a different way. These drying medications might decrease the effects of thyme and thyme might decrease the effects of drying medications.Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and some medications used for depression (antidepressants).Thyme might attach to the same sites in the body as estrogen. By taking up these sites, thyme might reduce the number of sites available for estrogen. Taking thyme along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.Some estrogen pills include equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.Some chemicals in thyme might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications for Alzheimer's disease also affect these chemicals. Taking thyme along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications used for Alzheimer's disease.
Thyme might slow blood clotting. Taking thyme along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Some chemicals in thyme might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions also affect these chemicals. Taking thyme with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.Some of these medications for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.Thyme contains a chemical called thymol. Topical gels with thymol might increase the absorption of topical ketoprofen products when applied to the skin. This might increase the risk for side effects from ketoprofen.Naproxen
Thyme contains a chemical called thymol. Topical gels with thymol might increase the absorption of topical naproxen. This might increase the risk for side effects from naproxen.