Thyme is a powerful herb that is actually one of the world’s healthiest foods. It has so many great benefits and has been used throughout the ages and not just for cooking. Greeks used it as an incense in their temples. Egyptians used it for embalming and Romans used it as an air purifier as well as in their food.
It has also been used for its medicinal value. The camphene and alpha-pinene in thyme are able to strengthen the immune system. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and helps keep the body from potential infections. The linalool in thyme has many antioxidant properties that help reduce the free radicals in our body. It stimulates the regeneration of the liver and helps the liver to quickly detoxify.
Thymus vulgaris also known as the “oil of thyme” has about twenty-five to fifty-four percent of thymol in it. Thymol is a biocide which means it destroys harmful organisms. No wonder thyme was one of the key ingredients that protected people from the Black Plague.
When scientists tested thymus in vitro against human cancer cell lines they found that it kills lung cancer cells, oral and ovarian cancer. Oncologist researchers at Celal Bayar University in Turkey did a study and found that Wild Thyme caused cell death in breast cancer cells. In the journal Nutrition and Cancer, they reported that Wild Thyme “may be a promising candidate in the development of novel therapeutic drugs for breast cancer treatment.”
Thyme oil is one of the primary herbs able to facilitate estrogen binding which means it can help balance and regulate hormones. It is also not the only estrogenic anticancer essential oil. This is important to note because cancer has frequently held receptors for estrogen. Therefore, it had been presumed that cancer could bolster any estrogenic compound and those at risk were encouraged to avoid estrogen.
Yet, the journal Molecules reported that Thyme essential oil presented the strongest cytotoxicity towards three human cancer cells. Those cancer cells were prostate carcinoma (PC-3), lung carcinoma (A549) and breast cancer cells (MCF-7). In Lisbon, Portugal a study found that Mastic Thyme extracts may protect from colon cancers.
Thyme is from the Mediterranean and is often cooked with olive oil. Research has shown that if you combine Thyme with olive oil it increases the most potent anti-cancer compound in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol. This combination was able to kill up to ninety-seven percent of human lung cancer cells.
With so much compelling anti-cancer potential that Thyme and many other herbs have we are finding out that food is not only for energy and nutrition but our key medicine to keeping our bodies well.
To learn more about Thyme check out the references below:
Zu Y, Yu H, Liang L, Fu Y, Efferth T, Liu X, Wu N. Activities of Ten Essential Oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 Cancer Cells. Molecules. 2010; 15(5):3200-3210.
Bozkurt, E., Atmaca, H., Kisim, A., Uzunoglu, S., Uslu, R., & Karaca, B. (2012). Effects of thymus serpyllum extract on cell proliferation, apoptosis and epigenetic events in human breast cancer cells [abstract]. Nutrition and Cancer, Volume 64, Issue 8, 2012, pages 1245-1250
Gordo, J., Máximo, P., Cabrita, E., Lourenço, A., Oliva, A., Almeida, J., … Cruz H. (2012, November). Thymus mastichina: chemical constituents and their anti-cancer activity [abstract]. Natural Products Communications.7(11):1491-4.
Abaza MS, Orabi KY, Al-Quattan E, Al-Attiyah RJ. Growth inhibitory and chemo-sensitization effects of naringenin, a natural flavanone purified from Thymus vulgaris, on human breast and colorectal cancer. Cancer Cell Int. 2015 Apr 24;15:46. doi: 10.1186/s12935-015-0194-0.
Dutta SW, Showalter SL, Showalter TN, Libby B, Trifiletti DM. Intraoperative radiation therapy for breast cancer patients: current perspectives. Breast Cancer (Dove Med Press). 2017 Apr 18;9:257-263. doi: 10.2147/BCTT.S112516.
Fogli S, Arena C, Carpi S, Polini B, Bertini S, Digiacomo M, Gado F, Saba A, Saccomanni G, Breschi MC, Nieri P, Manera C, Macchia M. Cytotoxic Activity of Oleocanthal Isolated from Virgin Olive Oil on Human Melanoma Cells. Nutr Cancer. 2016 Jul;68(5):873-7. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2016.1180407.
Kurt O, Ozdal-Kurt F, Tuğlu MI, Akçora CM. The cytotoxic, neurotoxic, apoptotic and antiproliferative activities of extracts of some marine algae on the MCF-7 cell line. Biotech Histochem. 2014 Nov;89(8):568-76. doi: 10.3109/10520295.2014.917199.