Thymol is a chemical constituent of thyme oil extracted from the herb called thyme. Thyme belongs to the mint family, which also includes basil, sage, spearmint, peppermint and others. In the past, people used thyme in the form of an embalming agent and also as a natural antiseptic. In contemporary times, scientists have extracted thymol and used is for a number of purposes, including toothpaste and mouthwash production. This substance is also used for preparation of ointments meant for topical applications as well as several other therapeutic substances.

As mentioned above, thymol is present in thyme essential oil, thyme extract in addition to a separate isolated natural chemical compound. It has been established that thymol possesses anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This natural chemical compound works to destroy the cell walls of fungi and bacteria, as a result of which these microbes are prevented from causing any aliment or disease. While it is yet to be established, this particular attribute of thymol that restricts fungi and bacteria also works to damage the parasites present inside our body, such as hookworms.

In ancient Egypt, people used thymol as well as carvacrol obtained from thyme, which belongs to the peppermint family, to embalm their dead and preserve the bodies. Now, we are aware that thymol and carvacrol possess anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This makes thyme an excellent herb for preserving mummies.

People in ancient Egypt also used thyme extensively for the herb's aromatic properties. It was burnt in the form of incense in temples. In addition, thyme was also considered to be a sign of admiration and courage. In fact, there is a popular phrase about thyme - "the smell of thyme", which meant that the herb was held in high esteem. Even during the medieval period, people associated thyme with bravery. In those days, it was a practice for women to present their knights with a scarf having a thyme sprig placed on top of an embroidered bee. People have been using thyme oil for its potent antiseptic properties since the 16th century. This herb was applied directly to the affected skin areas as well as was used as a mouthwash.

In fact, even Blackfoot Native Americans were aware of thyme's potent aromatic properties and they used the herb in poultices for treating minor wounds as well as skin infections. A tisane prepared from the herb was employed for treating infections in the mouth and throat caused by gingivitis and dental caries.

Noted German chemist Caspar Neumann was the first to isolate thymol in 1719. Later, in 1853, a French chemist named A. Lallemand name the chemical compound thymol and decided on its practical formula. On the other hand, noted Swedish chemist Oskar Widman was the first to synthesize thymol. Alain Thozet and M. Perrin were the first to publish the analysis of thymol's crystalline structure with the precise determination of the compound's structural atoms.

Thymol can also be found in hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol. This is owing to the therapeutic properties of this natural chemical compound. Although it is also used in the form of a pesticide as well as an animal repellent, this use is limited. You may also use the crushed herb as a substitute for pure thymol, as both enclose the same compound. The only minor difference between the herb and thymol is in the arrangement of their molecules.

Aside from the therapeutic uses of thymol, this substance is also used in cooking in the form of an enhancer or flavoring agent. As thymol is a chemical compound that occurs naturally and is present in an herb that is used in culinary, this substance has a very elevated safety margin. This aspect of thymol notwithstanding, it is always advisable that you should consult your physician, naturopath or any other competent health care professional prior to using this herb orally.

Health benefits

Thymol is used in many common therapeutic preparations. It forms an ingredient of a topical salve that is applied to the skin directly, especially in areas where it may be affected by ringworm or to nail fungus. In the form of a tea or tisane, this herb is added to simmering water and the resultant solution is used to cure internal disorders, for instance gingivitis or throat infections. In addition, you can also suspend this natural chemical compound extracted from thyme essential oil in a solution of isopropyl alcohol and apply it directly to your hands or any non-living objects.

The University of Michigan Health System says that among other things, thymol is primarily used for treating bronchitis. It has been found that thymol oil encloses several active elements that work like an expectorant for people suffering from this chronic health condition. The university says that patients suffering from bronchitis have excessive fluid accumulation in their lungs and chest and, as a result, they experience violent coughing. On the other hand, thymol possesses the ability to slacken the mucus in the body, making every cough further effective in opening up the respiratory tract making breathing easier. It is, however, advisable that you check with your physician or healthcare provider to know more about using thymol to treat bronchitis, before using this chemical compound.

Since thymol possesses potent antiseptic properties, it can also be used as an effective sterilizer. Thymol may be present is several mouthwashes and other products meant for dental care, as the herb thyme possesses a natural aptitude to combat tooth decay and infection. At the same time, this herb is also useful for counteract the harmful effects of diseases related to the gums as well as bad breath. If you rinse your mouth with a mouthwash solution containing thymol for 30 seconds every day it will help to get rid of all mouth bacteria, which may otherwise result in medical complications. However, prior to opting for any thymol solution to cure any dental problem, it is essential that you consult a dentist or medical professional regarding your specific problem. This is important because thymol should be used with caution and not everyone is advised to use this natural chemical compound.

Thymol is also known to possess expectorant properties and it has antispasmodic effects. This extract from thyme essential oil is a preferred herbal remedy for coughs. One of the effectual means to treat sinus infections, throat pain as well as bronchial problems is to add a few drops of thyme essential oil to steaming water and inhale the vapor. It is advised that if you are enduring any of the above mentioned disorders, you should repeat this process four times every day till the symptoms are alleviated. Since thymol possesses cough suppressant and expectorant attributes, this substance is found in several medications meant for treating cough. For several centuries, people all over Europe have used the herb thyme to prepare a tea that is taken internally for treating whooping cough.

As thymol possesses natural anti-bacterial attributes, it has been found that this compound is very effectual for treating infections of the fingers and toenail caused by yeast and bacteria. Fortunately enough, one does not need to take the trouble of preparing the formulation since it is now available in the form of a blend of 4 percent thymol in alcohol and is called Amoress Thymola. The standard application of this medication is twice every day directly to the infected nails till the time they grow out.

Side effects and cautions

While thyme offers several health benefits, this herb as well as its extracts need to be used with caution. For instance, the pregnant women and nursing mothers should never use thyme or its extracts since they stimulate the uterine system. At the same time, they should never be used in elevated doses or for prolonged periods because they may result in headaches, irritation of the digestive system, dizziness and even coma. It is advisable that you should stay away from using thyme as well as its extracts in case you are already suffering from heart problems, seizure disorders or epilepsy. People who have allergic reactions to other herbs belonging to the mint family, for instance basil, peppermint, spearmint, sage and marjoram, should also avoid using this herb.


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