It's About Thyme! 5 Thyme Health Benefits You Should Know About

April 30, 2021

It’s a pretty popular herb that lives in most people’s spice cabinets, but have you ever wondered about thyme health benefits?

The truth of the matter is that you can get some pretty powerful health perks from adding this herb to your recipes.

From fighting anxiety to acting as an all-natural pain reliever, thyme has been used for centuries for its health-supporting properties. And it’s pretty tasty, too!

Keep reading to learn about thyme—why it’s such a great herb, all the ways it benefits your health, and how you can use it in different ways.


All About Thyme

Thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris, is a Mediterranean herb perennial in the mint family. Though it originated in the Mediterranean, it’s now found and used all throughout the world.

Historically, ancient Egyptians used it as part of their embalming process while Greeks and Europeans believed it to be a great source of courage.

Today, it’s commonly used along with other herbs, such as rosemary and sage. It’s also available as an essential oil for more concentrated usages.

Now that you know a bit about its origins, let’s dive into some of the top thyme health benefits you should know about.

5 Powerful Thyme Health Benefits

So, what are the benefits of thyme? Let’s take a look at five of the top thyme health benefits and see how it can help you meet certain health goals.

1. Helps fight anxiety and depression

One of the most interesting thyme health benefits is its ability to help fight anxiety and depression.

According to a 2014 animal study, researchers found that when mice were administered thyme oil orally, they exhibited less stress during a maze test than those who didn’t get the thyme. [1]

But thyme does more than just help lower stress. It’s also great for fighting mental fatigue and depression. And this is due to the fact that it contains both lithium and tryptophan.

Lithium is a mineral known to contain anti-depressant properties, while tryptophan is an amino acid that’s used to help the body make serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. [2, 3]

As you may recall, serotonin not only promotes rest and repair but also helps to calm the body, thereby fighting anxiety.

Studies have shown that low serotonin levels are associated with poor memory and depression. And they’ve also shown that manipulating tryptophan levels can modify the body’s serotonin levels. [4]

As a result, it stands to reason that consuming more tryptophan-rich sources such as thyme could help to increase your body’s serotonin levels and therefore naturally fight anxiety and depression.

2. Contains anti-microbial properties

We recently discussed some of the top natural alternatives to antibiotics. Well, you may be surprise to hear that one of the top thyme health benefits is that it’s another all-natural anti-microbial agent!

So, how powerful is it? Well, according to a 2012 study, thyme essential oil was found to be highly effective against more than 120 strains of bacteria, including drug-resistant strains of bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas genus. [5]

As a result of the study, the researchers surmised that the use of phytopharmaceuticals to prevent various human infections would be reasonable.

Meanwhile, other studies have found thyme oil to also fight fungal infections, including aspergillus and penicillium. [6]

One of the best ways to use thyme oil for its anti-microbial properties is diffuse it along with other essential oils, such as lavender, tea tree, oregano, grapefruit, or orange.

3. Aids in relieving coughing spells

You may be surprised to learn that one of the most unique thyme health benefits is its ability to help relieve coughing spells.

According to one study, when patients with acute bronchitis who had 10 or more daily coughing fits were given a thyme-ivy liquid three times daily, they experienced a 50-percent reduction in coughing fits! [7]

Additionally, their bronchitis symptoms improved faster than those who didn’t take the thyme-ivy liquid.

Meanwhile, other studies have confirmed that thyme is effective in relieving cough and other symptoms of upper respiratory infections due to its spasmolytic and anti-inflammatory properties.

As a result, it’s been shown not only to help relieve coughs sooner but also relieve labored breathing associated with these infections. [8]

4. Shown to help relieve pain

When it comes to the many thyme health benefits, its ability to help relieve pain is definitely at the top.

According to a 2012 study on 120 females with menstrual cramps, taking thyme supplements four times daily provided as much relief as taking ibuprofen three times daily. [9]

The best part? Thyme doesn’t come with the side effects of ibuprofen, which can cause gastric upset and other digestive issues.

Additionally, a 2014 study confirmed these findings by showing that thyme was even more effective than ibuprofen at relieving menstrual pain. Thyme was found to decrease pain by more than 81 percent while the ibuprofen decreased pain by 72 percent. [10]

If you’re suffering from pain, consider supplementing with thyme before reaching for the OTC pain relievers. Just make sure to consult with your physician first, as you never know how herbs could interact with any medications you may be taking.

5. Contains anti-inflammatory properties

Finally, last in our list of top thyme health benefits is perhaps one of the most important: its ability to fight inflammation.

As you likely recall, inflammation has been linked to the development of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more, making it more important than ever to consume anti-inflammatory foods, herbs, and spices.

Well, a 2012 study revealed that thyme extracts significantly reduced the production and expression of several inflammatory mediators. But that’s not all: It also significantly increased the parameters on the anti-inflammatory cytokine inerleukin-10! [11]

As a result, the researchers surmised that thyme oil has strong potential to not only prevent future inflammation but also fight current inflammation within the body.


Thyme health benefits - Dr. Pingel


Ways to Use Thyme

If you’re looking for a few tips on how to tap into the different thyme health benefits, you’re in the right place. You can diffuse the essential oil to take advantage of its anti-microbial properties and help keep your air clean.

But if you’re looking to get some of those internal thyme health benefits, you’re going to need some more options.

I love to add fresh thyme to many different dishes, from my Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts to soups and stews to even my pickled foods. In fact, I love thyme so much that I even use it in some desserts.

Keep an eye out for my special Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Citrus and Thyme recipe coming up soon—it’s one you won’t want to miss!

The bottom line here is to get creative in the ways you tap into thyme health benefits. And the next time you’re in the kitchen, ask yourself how you can use incorporate this powerful herb into your meal for added flavor and benefits.


Key Takeaways

  • Thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris, is a Mediterranean herb perennial in the mint family. Now, it's found and used all throughout the world.
  • Historically, ancient Egyptians used it as part of their embalming process while Greeks and Europeans believed it to be a great source of courage.
  • Some of the top thyme health benefits include: fighting anxiety and depression, containing anti-microbial properties, reliving coughing spells, helping to relieve pain, and fighting inflammation.
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