Thymus vulgaris L. (Lamiaceae/Labiatae)
Common thyme, farigola, garden thyme, herba timi, herba thymi, mother of thyme,
red thyme, rubbed thyme, ten, thick leaf thyme, thym, Thymian, thyme, time,
timi, tomillo, za’ater
An aromatic perennial sub-shrub, 20–30 cm in height, with ascending, quadrangular,
greyish brown to purplish brown lignified and twisted stems bearing oblong-lanceolate
to ovate-lanceolate greyish green leaves that are pubescent on the lower surface.
The flowers have a pubescent calyx and a bilobate, pinkish or whitish, corolla
and are borne in verticillasters. The fruit consists of 4 brown ovoid nutlets
Plant material used
dried leaves and flowering tops
Herba Thymi contains not less than 1.0% volatile oil, and not less than 0.5%
phenols. Volatile oil is quantitatively determined by water/steam distillation,
and the percentage content of phenols expressed as thymol is determined by spectrophotometric
analysis. Thin-layer chromatographic analysis is used for thymol, carvacrol,
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  and carvacrol
 (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)
Dried herb for infusion, extract, and tincture.
Uses supported by clinical data
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well
Thyme 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 (3, 5, 8, 15, 16). 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 traditional medicine
Proven pharmacological activity
As an emmenagogue, sedative, antiseptic, antipyretic, to control menstruation
and cramps, and in the treatment of dermatitis
Spasmolytic and antitussive, Expectorant and secretomotor, Antifungal and antibacterial
Pregnancy and lactation (See Precautions, below).
No information available.
Patients with a known sensitivity to plants in the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) should
contact their physician before using thyme preparations. Patients sensitive
to birch pollen or celery may have a cross-sensitivity to thyme.
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
Thyme essential oil did not have any mutagenic activity in the Bacillus subtilis
rec-assay or the Salmonella/microsome reversion assay. Recent investigations
suggest that thyme extracts are antimutagenic and that luteolin, a constituent
of thyme, is a strong antimutagen against the dietary carcinogen Trp-P-2.
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
The safety of Herba Thymi preparations during pregnancy or lactation has not
been established. As a precautionary measure, the drug should not be used during
pregnancy or lactation except on medical advice. However, widespread use of
Herba Thymi has not resulted in any safety concerns.
See Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects, above.
No information available concerning drug interactions, drug and laboratory test
interactions, paediatric use, or teratogenic effects on pregnancy.
Contact dermatitis has been reported. Patients sensitive to birch pollen or
celery may have a cross-sensitivity to thyme.
Adults and children from 1 year: 1–2g of the dried herb or the equivalent
amount of fresh herb as an oral infusion several times a day; children up to
1 year: 0.5–1g. Fluid extract: dosage calculated according to the dosage
of the herb. Tincture (1 : 10, 70% ethanol): 40 drops up to 3 times daily. Topical
use: a 5% infusion as a gargle or mouth-wash