Thyme Oil
Therapeutic Properties and Uses at Home

by Jeanne Rose

     The therapeutic properties of Thyme herb and oil often result from the chemical carvacrol and can include: analgesic in that it eases pain including arthritic pain; it is antiseptic and can be used in products to combat bacteria; it is calming when inhaled this fits more with the Marjoram (Thymus mastichina) however and it is bactericidal, bechic (relieves cough), carminative, expectorant, insecticide, stimulant tonic and even a vermifuge when large quantities of the herb are eaten or small quantities of the oil are used. These properties can be studied by obtaining a good quality oil, usually in a kit with other oils or taking an aromatherapy class where you can learn about the different oils and how they are used.

Origin of Thyme Oil

     It is an ancient herb used in medicine by the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans and is an evergreen perennial shrub that grows up to 45 cm (18 inches) high, with a woody root system, much-branched stem, small elliptical greenish gray aromatic leaves and pale purple or white flowers.

     The name is derived from the Greek word 'thymos' that means 'perfume' and was used as incense in Greek temples. The Egyptians used it in embalming process.

     During the Middle Ages it was given to jousting knights for courage, and a sprig of the herb was carried into courtrooms to ward off diseases. .. see Herbs & Things.

Other Plants

     Several other unrelated plants with high amounts of carvacrol also have local common names of Oregano. "Mexican Oregano" usually refers to a tall, tender plant in the verbena family (Verbenaceae), Lippia graveolens, has a similar but somewhat stronger Oregano flavor, but may also refer to other plants in different parts of Mexico. In Spain Thymus nummularius is sold and used in place of Oregano.

Thyme Oil Organoleptic Properties

     It has a strong herbaceous and green and vegetative odor that is somewhat sweet. The color can be pale yellow to reddish-brown to amber.

Extraction and Yields

     It is extracted from the fresh or partly dried flowering tops and leaves of the plant by water or steam distillation and the yield is 0.7 -1.0 %.

Chemical Composition

     The main chemical components are a-thujone, a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, p-cymene, a-terpinene, linalool, borneol, b-caryophyllene, thymol and carvacrol. For some of the chemotypes of Thyme, of which there are many, please read Thyme Essential Oil Profile in the articles section of the Aromatic Plant Project.


     Thyme oil strengthens the nerves, aids memory and concentration, can help with the feeling of exhaustion and combats depression, while it cleanses and strengthens the lungs and helps with colds, coughs, asthma, laryngitis, sinusitis, catarrh, whooping cough, sore throats and tonsillitis. Thyme herb and oil is a beneficial addition in foods or supplements to boost the immune system and can help fight colds, flu, infectious diseases and chills. If taken in small amounts internally it will act as a urinary antiseptic, it is very helpful for cystitis and urethritis.

     The warming effect of this oil can help in cases of poor circulation, as well as for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscular aches and pains, sprains and sport injuries. It is also helpful in blends used externally for cellulite, obesity and edema and for some the use of the herb has been helpful in cases of scanty periods, leucorrhoea, and to speed up birth and to expel afterbirth.

     Thyme oil can assist with nervous complaints, respiratory problems, poor circulation and problems of the digestive system and the urinary tract.


     This essential oil can cause skin irritation, yet when inhaled helps with concentration and to focus on particular situations, it is as well an excellent stimulant for the respiratory system for use in bronchitis, coughs, colds, asthma and the like. It is warming and these qualities are great as an application for rheumatism, sciatica, arthritis and gout. Blend with gentle essential oils and then dilute with a carrier before use.

Hydrosol Uses and Therapeutics

     The hydrosol can be a powerful germicide and can be used as a mouth wash, to flavor foods, as awash or disinfectant and antiseptic for wounds.


     It is a very potent oil and should not be used during pregnancy or in cases of high blood pressure. Because of the phenols (carvacrol and thymol), which can irritate mucus membranes and cause skin irritation, it should not be used for skin care products, and in general should be used in low concentrations.

     When it is used in massage therapy, it would be a good idea to do a skin patch test to determine if the person is sensitive to it.


Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy
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