What Is Thymol?

Britt Archer

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes throughout the history of mankind. Thyme, an herb in the mint family, is one such plant. Historically, thyme was used as an embalming agent and natural antiseptic. Modern science has extracted the active chemical ingredient in thyme oil — thymol — for use in preparations ranging from toothpaste to mouthwash to topical ointments and other medicated substances.

Thymol is commonly used in topical ointments.
Thymol is commonly used in topical ointments.

Thymol is found in oil of thyme, thyme extract and as a distinct isolated chemical compound, is a proven antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial substance. It damages the cell walls of bacteria and fungi. The damage caused to the cell walls inhibits the microorganisms from causing disease or illness. While not officially proven, the same properties that inhibit bacteria and fungi may also work against internal parasites like hookworms.

Thymol may be used on medicated bandages to reduce the likelihood of infection.
Thymol may be used on medicated bandages to reduce the likelihood of infection.

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There are several common preparations for thymol. As a topical ointment, it is applied directly to an external area of the skin as is the case with nail fungus or ringworm. As a tea or tisane, this plant is added to boiling water to treat internal maladies, such as throat infections or gingivitis. The compound can also be suspended in a solution of isopropyl alcohol for direct application to hands or inanimate objects.

Thymol may be used as a topical ointment to cure nail fungus.
Thymol may be used as a topical ointment to cure nail fungus.

Thymol is prevalent in alcohol-free hand sanitizers because of its medicinal properties. It also has limited use as a pesticide and animal repellent. It can also be used on all-natural medicated bandages to reduce the likelihood of infection. Crushed thyme can be used in place of pure thymol; both contain the same compound, and the only minute differences between thyme and thymol lay in the arrangement of molecules in the substances.

A rash may develop as a result of an allergic reaction to thymol.
A rash may develop as a result of an allergic reaction to thymol.

In addition to its medicinal uses, it is used in cooking as a flavoring agent or enhancer. Because it is a naturally occurring substance that is found in a plant used in culinary applications, it has a high margin of safety. Despite this, it is advisable to seek the advice of a doctor, naturopath or another qualified health care professional before ingesting this plant.

As a topical ointment, thymol can be applied to combat ringworm.
As a topical ointment, thymol can be applied to combat ringworm.

Although side effects are rare, an allergic reaction can occur in sensitive people. Itching, rashes, hives and difficulty breathing are just some of the symptoms a person might experience if she is allergic to this substance or the plant it is derived from. Mild gastrointestinal upset may occur if it is taken internally. Emergency medical treatment should be sought in the event of an adverse reaction.

Some toothpastes are formulated with thymol.
Some toothpastes are formulated with thymol.
Some mouthwashes contain thymol.
Some mouthwashes contain thymol.
Thymol is found in thyme extract.
Thymol is found in thyme extract.

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Discussion Comments

lalade

Responding to Zipline: There used to be a product called Snow Balm made in Frankford, Delaware used for diaper rash. The only difference between it and other diaper rash ointments was that it contained thymol iodine. A friend told me about it and it was like a miracle product on certain rashes, especially yeast-based ones like when a child has been on an antibiotic and develops that really horrible rash that I believe is yeast-based. I would definitely try using a product with thymol in it for your rash.

ZipLine

Has anyone used thymol or thyme oil to treat candida yeast?

I have had a candida yeast infection for the past six months. I've used several different courses of anti-fungal medications but the yeast seems to be resistant to all of them.

I'm now looking into natural treatments and came across thymol. I'm wondering if anyone has tried this for candida before? Is it safe to take this by mouth and how much should I take?

fBoyle

@feruze-- I'm not an expert on this topic, but as far as I know, thymol is used to kill mites in beehives. Bees get infected with mites too and I think this negatively impacts their health and honey production. So beekeepers have to treat bee infestations and thymol is one of the things that works for this. The good part about it is that it's natural and it doesn't harm the bees in the process.

bear78

What is the use of thymol in beekeeping? My sister is a beekeeper and she emailed me and asked me to get some of this for her.

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