Thymus vulgaris L.

Last updated: 20 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Thymus vulgaris L.


Origanum thymus Kuntze, Origanum webbianum (Rouy) Kuntze, Thymus chinensis K.Koch, Thymus collinus Salisb. [Illegitimate], Thymus ilerdensis González ex Costa, Thymus sublaxus Rouy, Thymus webbianus Rouy [1]

Vernacular Name

English Thyme, timi, common thyme [2], garden thyme [3]
China She xiang cao [3]
India Zaater [3]
Portugal Segurelha [3]
Arab Za’ater [3].

Geographical Distributions

Thymus vulgaris can be grown in the wet hills of Peninsular Malaysia from imported seeds but with difficulty on the plains. [2]

Botanical Description

No documentation


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

T. vulgaris has been reported to contain trans thujanol-4 linalol, terpinen-4-ol (50%), mycrene and gamma terpinene (15%). [4][5][6]

Plant Part Used

Entire plant, seed, leaf, aerial part, essential oil [2]

Traditional Use

T. vulgaris is an aromatic herb used for flavouring and also as antiseptic. [7]

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

The 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. 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. [8]

Antifungal activity

Numerous preclinical studies have demonstrated the antifungal activity of T. vulgaris [9][10]with an emphasis on the action against Candida albicans [11][12]. This action was found to be because of the oil’s ability to induce morphological alterations in the Candida envelope [13].

Antioxidant activity

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 [14]. 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 [15].

Other activities

Additional laboratory studies have indicated that the essential oil of T. vulgaris may be antiamebic, [16] anti-inflammatory, [17] a GABAA receptor agonist, [18] and may be useful as a mosquito repellant. [19][20]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


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Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Thymus vulgaris L.[homepage on the Internet] .c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 20] Available from:
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 390.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 570.
  4. Kreck M, Scharrer A, Bilke S. Enantioselective analysis of monoterpene compounds in essential oils by stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE)-enantio-MDGC-MS. Flavour Frag J. 2002;17(1):32–40.
  5. 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. 2006;1132(1-2):219-227.
  6. Alonso WR, Croteau R. Purification and characterization of the monoterpene cyclase gamma-terpinene synthase from Thymus vulgaris. Arch-Biochem-Biophys. 1991;286(2):511-517.
  7. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 2. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 2158-2159.
  8. 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. 2007;10(20):3693-3697.
  9. Pozzatti P, Scheid LA, Spader TB. In vitro activity of essential oils extracted from plants used as spices against fluconazole-resistant and fluconazole-susceptible Candida spp. Can J Microbiol. 2008;54(11):950-956.
  10. Giordani R, Hadef Y, Kaloustian J. Compositions and antifungal activities of essential oils of some Algerian aromatic plants. Fitoterapia. 2008;79(3):199-203.
  11. Soković MD, Vukojević J, Marin PD. Chemical composition of essential oils of Thymus and Mentha species and their antifungal activities. Molecules. 2009;14(1):238-249.
  12. Pina-Vaz C, Gonçalves RA, Pinto E1. Antifungal activity of Thymus oils and their major compounds. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2004;18(1):73-78(6).
  13. Braga PC, Sasso MD, Culici M. Eugenol and thymol, alone or in combination, induce morphological alterations in the envelope of Candida albicans. Fitoterapia. 2007;78(6):396-400.
  14. 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. Mech Ageing Dev. 1999;109(3):163-175.
  15. 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. Br J Nutr. 2000;83(1):87-93.
  16. Behnia M, Haghighi A, Komeylizadeh H. Inhibitory effects of Iranian Thymus vulgaris extracts on in vitro growth of Entamoeba histolytica. Korean J Parasito. 2008;46(3):153-156.
  17. Braga PC, Sasso M, Culici M. Anti-inflammatory activity of thymol: inhibitory effect on the release of human neutrophil elastase. Pharmacology. 2006;77(3):130-136.
  18. Priestley CM, Williamson EM, Wafford KA. 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. 2003;140(8):1363-1372.
  19. Park BS, Choi WS, Kim JH. Monoterpenes from thyme (Thymus vulgaris) as potential mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2005;21(1):80-83.
  20. Zhu J, Zeng X, Yanma. Adult repellency and larvicidal activity of five plant essential oils against mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2006;22(3):515-522.