5-Minute Health Tip: Take a Thyme Out

FACT: Greek women have a 50% lower incidence of breast cancer than American women and Greek men an 80% lower incidence of prostate cancer than American men.

Research suggests the lower cancer rates could be attributed to the Mediterranean diet—rich in a very potent herb that’s been shown to destroy cancer cells. Thyme, botanically coined Thymus vulgaris, is traditionally celebrated for its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties but now we can add a new skill to its resume—thyme kills cancer cells!

SONY DSCThyme Kills Cancer Cells

Researchers pitted thyme against nine other essential oils to see which demonstrated the most cancer-fighting potential. Thyme emerged the clear winner, followed by jasmine and cinnamon. After 72 hours and at a concentration of just 0.025% thyme killed 97% of human prostate cancer cells in vitro, and at a concentration of 0.05% it wiped out 98% of human breast cancer cells in vitro. The study, published in 2010 in the journal Molecules, also showed that thyme triggered apoptosis (cell death) in lung cancer cells.

Other studies suggest thyme is effective against oral and ovarian cancer, and Natural Product Communications published a study that indicated thyme’s protective effect against colon cancer. The journal Nutrition and Cancer also reported that wild thyme stimulated cell death in breast cancer cells.

Thyme’s Unstoppable Health Benefits

Thyme is a popular treatment for respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and whooping cough. A powerful anti-rheumatic, thyme helps treat arthritis and rheumatism by stimulating circulation and increasing urination, thereby eliminating toxins such as uric acid from the bloodstream. Thyme also helps alleviate acne, sore throat, stomach ache, diarrhea, and yeast buildup.

Taking a Thyme Out

Add thyme leaves as a flavorful addition to your favorite cuisines.

If you’re not much of a cook, enjoy thyme tea. Steep one teaspoon of leaves with one cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy daily.

You can also breathe in thyme essential oil with an aromatic diffuser, or use it to treat acne by diluting it with rose water and applying as a toner.

To treat respiratory conditions or other skin ailments, dilute thyme essential oil in a carrier oil like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil, and massage into affected areas.

A word of caution: thyme is a potent herb, especially in oil form. Do not use if you are pregnant or have elevated blood pressure.