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Thymus vulgaris

Thymus vulgaris  

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Thujanol thyme, thym thujanol, common thyme

Original Habitat

There are many herbs that are members of the Thymus species. These gray-green, woody shrubs are native to Europe and Asia. Thymus vulgaris is considered Common thyme and is grown in most European countries. The flowers of the herb are hermaphrodite and are visible from June to August in most zones. T. vulgaris grows well in well-drained soil and can tolerate poor soil quality but not shade.

Plant Part Used

Flowering tops


Thyme oil is used in some foods. As fragrance oil, it is rarely used except in lesser amounts mixed with oils that have a floral aroma. It is also found in some body care product such as soaps. It is regularly used in therapeutic aromatherapy as a single oil and in more complex formulations.


The moderately thin essential oil of T. vulgaris is steam distilled from the flowering tops and sometimes from the herb for a lower grade product. The oil has a distinctive medicinal, herbaceous aroma. More expensive, higher quality oils are almost colourless and have a softer aroma.

Chemical Constituents

Active Principle

Terpene alcohols: Trans thujanol-4 linalol
Terpinen-4-ol (50%)
Terpenes: Mycrene, gamma terpinene (15%) [1][2][3]

There are several chemotypes of Thymus vulgaris each of which has properties and characteristics that distinguish it from the others. In this chemotype, the major component is thujanol.

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Antibacterial +++
Antiviral +++
Immunostimulator (aug. Ig A) +++
Hepatic cell regenerator and stimulant +++
Warming effect +++
Neurotonic, balancer +++

AntibacterialThe essential oil of T. vulgaris as compared to other essential oils, demonstrated the broadest spectrum of action against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in a broth base.[1]   Another laboratory study demonstrated inhibitory effects of T. vulgaris oil against nine strains of gram-negative bacteria and against six strains of gram-positive bacteria.[4]

AntifungalNumerous pre-clinical studies have demonstrated the antifungal activity of T. vulgaris [5][6] with an emphasis on the action against Candida albicans.[7][8] This action was found to be because of the oil’s ability to induce morphological alterations in the Candida envelope.[9]

Antioxidant- Researchers examined and documented the lifetime antioxidant effects of T. vulgaris oil on the heart, liver and kidneys of rats. All tissues examined displayed a more favourable antioxidant status in the rats fed Thyme oil with their diet than those who were not.[10] An additional animal model examined the effects of Thyme oil on the antioxidant status of the aging brain in rats and again the findings favoured the rats fed the oil as a standard part of their diet as opposed to those whose diets did not include the Thyme oil.[11]

Additional laboratory studies have indicated that the essential oil of T. vulgaris may be antiamebic,[12] anti-inflammatory,[13] a GABAA receptor agonist,[14] and may be useful as a mosquito repellant.[15][16]

Traditional Use

Sore throat, pharyngitis, bronchitis, otitis +++
Astenia, nervous disorders +++
Stomatitis, tonsilitis +++
Gynecological and urological infections +++
Dermitis, mycosis +++
Hepatic disorders +++

There are no clinical studies that have investigated the traditional use of this specific oil.

Contraindications and Precautions

May be a mucous membrane irritant.

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women, or babies.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Kreck M, Scharrer A, Bilke S, Armin M. Enantioselective analysis of monoterpene compounds in essential oils by stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE)-enantio-MDGC-MS. Flavour and Fragrance Journal. 17(1):32–40.

2.     Nhu-Trang TT, Casabianca H, Grenier-Loustalot MF. Deuterium/hydrogen ratio analysis of thymol, carvacrol, gamma-terpinene and p-cymene in thyme, savory and oregano essential oils by gas chromatography-pyrolysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A. 3 Nov 2006;1132(1-2):219-227.

3.     Alonso WR, Croteau R. Purification and characterization of the monoterpene cyclase gamma-terpinene synthase from Thymus vulgaris. Arch-Biochem-Biophys. 1 May 1991;286(2):511-517.

4.     Mohsenzadeh M. Evaluation of antibacterial activity of selected Iranian essential oils against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in nutrient broth medium. Pak J Biol Sci. 15 Oct 2007;10(20):3693-3697.

5.     Pozzatti P, Scheid LA, Spader TB, Atayde ML, Santurio JM, Alves SH. In vitro activity of essential oils extracted from plants used as spices against fluconazole-resistant and fluconazole-susceptible Candida spp. Can J Microbiol. Nov 2008;54(11):950-956.

6.     Giordani R, Hadef Y, Kaloustian J. Compositions and antifungal activities of essential oils of some Algerian aromatic plants. Fitoterapia. Apr 2008;79(3):199-203.

7.     Soković MD, Vukojević J, Marin PD, Brkić DD, Vajs V, van Griensven LJ. Chemical composition of essential oils of Thymus and Mentha species and their antifungal activities. Molecules. 7 Jan 2009;14(1):238-249.

8.     Pina-Vaz C, Gonçalves RA, Pinto E1, Costa-de-Oliveira S2, Tavares C, Salgueiro L3, Cavaleiro C3, Gonçalves MJ3, Martinez-de-Oliveira J4. Antifungal activity of Thymus oils and their major compounds. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology. Jan 2004;18(1):73-78(6).

9.     Braga PC, Sasso MD, Culici M, Alfieri M. Eugenol and thymol, alone or in combination, induce morphological alterations in the envelope of Candida albicans. Fitoterapia. Sep 2007;78(6):396-400.

10.  Youdim K, Deans SG.  Dietary supplementation of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) essential oil during the lifetime of the rat: its effects on the antioxidant status in liver, kidney and heart tissues. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. 8 September1999;109(3):163-175.

11.  Youdim KA, Deans SG. Effect of thyme oil and thymol dietary supplementation on the antioxidant status and fatty acid composition of the ageing rat brain. Citation: Br-J-Nutr. Jan 2000;83(1):87-93.

12.  Behnia M, Haghighi A, Komeylizadeh H, Tabaei SJ, Abadi A. Inhibitory effects of Iranian Thymus vulgaris extracts on in vitro growth of Entamoeba histolytica. Korean J Parasitol. Sep 2008;46(3):153-156.

13.  Braga PC, Sasso M, Culici M, Bianchi T, Bordoni L, Marabini L. Anti-inflammatory activity of thymol: inhibitory effect on the release of human neutrophil elastase. Pharmacology. 2006;77(3):130-136.

14.  Priestley CM, Williamson EM, Wafford KA, Sattelle DB. Thymol, a constituent of thyme essential oil, is a positive allosteric modulator of human GABA(A) receptors and a homo-oligomeric GABA receptor from Drosophila melanogaster. Br J Pharmacol. Dec 2003;140(8):1363-1372.

15.  Park BS, Choi WS, Kim JH, Kim KH, Lee SE. Monoterpenes from thyme (Thymus vulgaris) as potential mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. Mar 2005;21(1):80-83.

16.  Zhu J, Zeng X, Yanma, Liu T, Qian K, Han Y, Xue S, Tucker B, Schultz G, Coats J, Rowley W, Zhang A. Adult repellency and larvicidal activity of five plant essential oils against mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. Sep 2006;22(3):515-522.

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