• Clinical data 0%
  • Efficacy 80%
  • Security 70%
  • Toxicity 30%

Thymus vulgaris
Herba Thymi


Lamiaceae are also known as Labiatae.

General appearance Thymus vulgaris

Leaf 4–12 mm long and up to 3mm wide; it is sessile or has a very short petiole. The lamina is tough, entire, lanceolate to ovate, covered on both surfaces by a grey to greenish grey indumentum; the edges are markedly rolled up towards the abaxial surface. The midrib is depressed on the adaxial surface and is very prominent on the abaxial surface. The calyx is green, often with violet spots, and is tubular; at the end are 2 lips of which the upper is bent back and has 3 lobes on its end; the lower is longer and has 2 hairy teeth. After flowering, the calyx tube is closed by a crown of long, stiff hairs. The corolla, about twice as long as the calyx, is usually brownish in the dry state and is slightly bilabiate.

Major chemical constituents

Herba Thymi contains about 2.5% but not less than 1.0% of volatile oil. The composition of the volatile oil fluctuates depending on the chemotype under consideration. The principal components of Herba Thymi are thymol [1] and carvacrol [2] (up to 64% of oil), along with linalool, p-cymol, cymene, thymene, α-pinene, apigenin, luteolin, and 6-hydroxyluteolin glycosides, as well as di-, tri- and tetramethoxylated flavones, all substituted in the 6-position (for example 5,4-dihydroxy-6,7-dimethoxyflavone, 5,4-dihydroxy- 6,7,3 trimethoxyflavone and its 8-methoxylated derivative 5,6,4-trihydroxy- 7,8,3-trimethoxyflavone).

Medicinal uses

Uses supported by clinical data
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine
Thymus vulgaris extract has been used orally to treat dyspepsia and other gastrointestinal disturbances; coughs due to colds, bronchitis and pertussis; and laryngitis and tonsillitis (as a gargle). Topical applications of thyme extract have been used in the treatment of minor wounds, the common cold, disorders of the oral cavity, and as an antibacterial agent in oral hygiene. Both the essential oil and thymol are ingredients of a number of proprietary drugs including antiseptic and healing ointments, syrups for the treatment of respiratory disorders, and preparations for inhalation. Another species in the genus, T. serpyllum L., is used for the same indications.
Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data
As an emmenagogue, sedative, antiseptic, antipyretic, to control menstruation and cramps, and in the treatment of dermatitis.


Experimental pharmacology

Spasmolytic and antitussive activities

The spasmolytic and antitussive activity of thyme has been most often attributed to the phenolic constituents thymol and carvacrol, which make up a large percentage of the volatile oil. Although these compounds have been shown to prevent contractions induced in the ileum and the trachea of the guinea-pig, by histamine, acetylcholine and other reagents, the concentration of phenolics in aqueous preparations of the drug is insufficient to account for this activity. Experimental evidence suggests that the in vitro spasmolytic activity of thyme preparations is due to the presence of polymethoxyflavones. In vitro studies have shown that flavones and thymeextracts inhibit responses to agonists of specific receptors such as acetylcholine, histamine and L-norepinephrine, as well as agents whose actions do not require specific receptors, such as barium chloride. The flavones of thyme were found to act as noncompetitive and non-specific antagonists; they were also shown to be Ca2 antagonists and musculotropic agents that act directly on smooth muscle.

Expectorant and secretomotor activities

Experimental evidence suggests that thyme oil has secretomotoric activity. This activity has been associated with a saponin extract from T. vulgaris. Stimulation of ciliary movements in the pharynx mucosa of frogs treated with diluted solutions of thyme oil, thymol or carvacrol has also been reported. Furthermore, an increase in mucus secretion of the bronchi after treatment with thyme extracts has been observed.

Antifungal and antibacterial activities

In vitro studies have shown that both thyme essential oil and thymol have antifungal activity against a number of fungi, including Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus, Saprolegnia, and Zygorhynchus species. Both the essential oil and thymol had antibacterial activity against Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and a number of other bacterial species. As an antibiotic, thymol is 25 times as effective as phenol, but less toxic.


Pregnancy and lactation (See Precautions, below).


No information available.


News and Journals

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