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Thyme Tea Used Medicinally to Treat Cough, Acne, and More

Thyme tea made by infusing dried thyme leaves in hot water has been used by practitioners of herbal medicine to treat everything from cough and sore throat to bacterial skin infections and respiratory conditions. Now, research shows that many of the traditional medicinal uses of thyme can actually be backed by modern scientific studies. Here's a lowdown of the 5 most interesting medicinal properties of thyme tea that may actually be more than just myths:

1. Thyme Tea – An Effective Natural Remedy for Cough?

Drinking more tea and other hot liquids is considered one of the best diet tips for the prevention of colds and flu. A research conducted at the Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre found that drinking a hot beverage containing apple and blackcurrant juice provided immediate relief from common cold symptoms such as runny nose, cough, sore throat and sneezing. These results were not achieved when the same beverage was drunk at room temperature.

But thyme tea might have anti-cough and sore throat fighting properties that are not related to the high temperature of this beverage. According to practitioners of traditional herbal medicine, thyme has anti-tussive properties, meaning that is capable of suppressing cough. There is also some modern scientific evidence suggesting that thyme extracts might indeed help bring relief from respiratory problems such as cough and bronchitis; however, these studies have focused on combination formulations containing other ingredients (such as primrose root) that may have also contributed to the anti-cough activities of the tested products.

In any case, if you decide to give a cup of hot thyme tea a try next time you have a cough, you might want to sweeten it with a bit of buckwheat honey which has been shown to suppress cough in earlier studies.

2. Early Research Suggests Thyme Has Strong Anti-Acne Properties

According to an intriguing study presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in 2012, thyme has inhibitory effects against Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium that has been linked to the development of acne vulgaris. The researchers responsible for this study evaluated the effects of thyme, marigold and myrrh tinctures on Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acnes for short), and found that while all three tinctures had inhibitory effects against P. acnes, the thyme extract had the strongest inhibitory effect.

In fact, the anti-acne properties of the thyme extract were found to be even stronger than those of benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in most anti-acne creams. While clinical trials still need to be done to further evaluate the potential anti-acne effects of thyme-containing products (such as thyme tea or topical creams), one thing is for sure: the findings presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference will certainly bring hope for the millions of acne sufferers around the world.

3. Further Anti-Bacterial Properties

Drinking thyme tea might have some benefits for those people with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) who cannot use antibiotics to get rid of this harmful stomach bacterium. As you may already know, the presence of H. pylori in the stomach may eventually lead to serious health problems, including peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer. Although most H. pylori infections can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics, the scientific community is looking for alternative treatments as H. pylori strains are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatments.

In one study, Israeli scientists tested extracts of several plants for their inhibitory activity against H. pylori. Among the tested plant extracts, thyme infused in water and alcoholic extracts of cinnamon had the strongest inhibitory effects. The anti-H-pylori effects of the thyme infusion were even stronger than those of common anti-bacterials. The researchers concluded that thyme extracts appear to have therapeutic potential but that clinical studies should be conducted to validate this potential.

4. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Thyme has been shown to contain several anti-inflammatory compounds, including luteolin and rosmarinic acid. A study published in the April 2009 edition of the journal Biochemical Pharmacology reported that among the six anti-inflammatory compounds tested in this study, luteolin had the strongest inhibitory activity against TBK1, an enzyme that has been linked to inflammatory responses in humans. Rosmarinic acid, in turn, has been shown to effectively inhibit cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, two other enzymes that have been associated with inflammatory responses. Whether the concentration of anti-inflammatory compounds in thyme tea is enough to justify the use of thyme tea as a treatment for inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or inflammatory acne) is still under debate, however.

5. Thyme Tea and Cancer Prevention

Thyme Tea: Good for Cough and Acne?

We all have heard about the anti-cancer effects of green tea, but green tea is hardly the only drink that may provide benefits for people who are looking to reduce their risk of cancer. In 2012, a Portuguese study reported that extracts of Mastic Thyme appeared to have a protective effect against colon cancer. In another study published around the same time, Wild Thyme was found to have anti-cancer effects against breast cancer.

Where Can You Buy Pure Thyme Tea?

Herbal teas containing dried thyme leaves or flowers, along with other caffeine-free medicinal herbs, are readily available in supermarkets. If you're looking for pure thyme tea that contains no other ingredients, you might want to check out Good Nature's certified USDA-organic wild thyme tea (sold in tea bags) which can be ordered through the online retailer Amazon here.

1. B. Kemmerich (2007). Evaluation of Efficacy and Tolerability of a Fixed Combination of Dry Extracts of Thyme Herb and Primrose Root in Adults Suffering from Acute Bronchitis with Productive Cough. Arzneimittelforschung, 57(9), 607-615.
2. M. Tabak et al (1996). In vitro inhibition of Helicobacter pylori by extracts of thyme. Journal of Applied Bacteriology, 80(6), 667-672.
3. W. Zheng and S. Wang (2001). Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(11),5165-70.
4. K. Samejima et (1995). Luteolin: A Strong Antimutagen against Dietary Carcinogen, Trp-P-2, in Peppermint, Sage, and Thyme. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 43(2), 410-414.
5. J. Lee et al (2009). Suppression of the TRIF-dependent signaling pathway of Toll-like receptors by luteolin. Biochemical Pharmacology, 77(8), 1391-1400.
6. G. Gamaro et al (2011). Effect of Rosmarinic and Caffeic Acids on Inflammatory and Nociception Process in Rats. ISRN Pharmacol. 451682.
7. J. Gordo et al (2012). Thymus mastichina: chemical constituents and their anti-cancer activity. Natural Product Communications, 7(11), 1491-4.
8. E. Bozkurt et al (2012). Effects of Thymus serpyllum Extract on Cell Proliferation, Apoptosis and Epigenetic Events in Human Breast Cancer Cells. Nutrition and Cancer, 64(8), 1245-1250.

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