Thyme for Respiratory Diseases
Thyme has been used traditionally for centuries to prepare herbal medicines for treating many different respiratory diseases ranging from the mild common colds to severe pulmonary conditions. Recent studies have also substantiated the traditional uses of this herb in the prevention and management of respiratory diseases.
In this article, we’ll learn about the properties of thyme and how it can help combat respiratory diseases. Before we get started with thyme, it’s critical to know the basic facts of respiratory diseases.
Table of contents
- What is a respiratory disease?
- Symptoms of respiratory diseases
- Causes of respiratory diseases
- What is thyme?
- Benefits of thyme
- How thyme helps combat respiratory diseases
- How to use thyme
- Precaution and side effects
- Final words
What is a respiratory disease?
Respiratory disease is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of diseases that affect the human respiratory system. They affect the tissues and organs that make respiration difficult in humans. They include pathological conditions of the airways such as the trachea, bronchioles, bronchi, alveoli, pleural cavity, the respiratory muscles, and the respiratory nerves.
Respiratory diseases may range from mild and self-controlling, like a common cold, influenza, and nasal infection, to serious life-threatening conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary embolism, bacterial pneumonia, acute asthma, tuberculosis, and lung cancer.
Symptoms of respiratory diseases
Since respiratory diseases include a variety of pathological conditions, signs and symptoms of respiratory diseases widely vary depending on the underlying disease type and severity. They may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- A persistent cough that may be dry or may produce sputum
- Eye pain
- Aching muscles
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest tightness
- Swelling in legs, ankles, or feet
- Unintended weight loss (in advanced COPD)
Causes of respiratory diseases
Respiratory diseases may be caused by –
- Infections such as colds, flu, and pneumonia
- Breathing in chemicals such as radon and asbestos
- Exposure to dust, fumes, and other forms of air pollution
- Certain genetic factors such as alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency
What is thyme?
Thyme, botanically known as Thymus vulgaris, is an aromatic medicinal herb that typically belongs to the mint family. It has a long history of medicinal use in the treatment of respiratory diseases in several traditional medicines including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Indian Traditional Medicine (Ayurveda), and many more.
Benefits of thyme
Thyme is considered one of the most used medicinal herbs in the world. Apart from supporting respiratory health, thyme shows a variety of health benefits such as –
- Helps to lower blood pressure
- Boosts immune response
- Acts as a fungicide
- Helps to kill pests
- Helps to improve moods
- Promotes heart health
- Improves skin conditions
- Supports hair health
- Improves brain function
How thyme helps combat respiratory diseases
Thyme is highly valued in medicine for its mucolytic, antispasmodic, antitussive, and expectorant properties. In several types of research, thyme extract has been found to be effective in the treatment of certain respiratory diseases.
Thyme is a natural expectorant and acts as an antiseptic that helps to eliminate mucus. It helps reduce respiratory infections and associated symptoms such as eye pain and difficulty breathing. It also helps in soothing coughs and reducing chest congestion.
In a recent study, researchers have found that thyme extract might be an effective therapeutic agent in treating chronic respiratory conditions based on inflammatory processes when over-production of mucus overflows the ciliary clearance and causes obstructions in the airways.
Another study showed thyme extract might be beneficial for its therapeutical use in the management of COPD. It is also an effective herbal remedy for treating whooping cough, sore throat, and bronchitis.
How to use thyme
The leaves and flowers of thyme, and their essential oils are used for therapeutic purposes. Thyme is often used in combination with other medicinal herbs such as lungwort, ginger, and fenugreek to produce more potential benefits.
Thyme extract, alone or along with other herbs, can be taken as a supplement by mouth. Fresh leaves and flowers of thyme can be used for making teas or flavoring foods. The essential oils derived from leaves and flowers can be used in aromatherapy for inhaling or messaging to relieve the symptoms of respiratory diseases.
Though the actual doses vary depending on the exact pathological conditions of the respiratory system, in general, recommended doses of thyme extract supplement range from 2 gm to 4 gm per day in 3 to 4 divided doses. Always consult a healthcare provider before using thyme supplement.
Precaution and side effects
Thyme is widely used in cooking and generally safe in normal amounts. It appears to be well-tolerated in most people in dietary supplement forms. However, overdoses of thyme extract may cause stomach upset, headaches, cramps, and dizziness.
People who are sensitive to herbs of the mint family such as oregano, sage, or lavender, may experience allergic reactions that can manifest with skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
When applying topically, never use thyme oil directly to the skin, always dilute in some carrier oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil before applying. Performing a patch test for allergies is also a good practice.
Breastfeeding and pregnant women, and people with diabetes or kidney stones should consult their healthcare providers before using thyme. Besides, thyme may interact with certain medications such as anticoagulants, thus, it’s strongly recommended to ask for the direct supervision of a certified healthcare practitioner prior to using thyme especially if you are taking it for any serious respiratory issue.
From traditional uses to recent studies, thyme has been found to be a promising therapeutic agent in the treatment of many symptoms of respiratory diseases. But, in certain life-threatening respiratory conditions like an acute asthma attack, we shouldn’t avoid life-saving medications such as inhalers, and thyme might be used as a complementary medicine to reduce the frequency of the attacks.
If you have any life-threatening respiratory disease, you may consider taking thyme supplement as a complementary therapeutic agent that can support your main treatment protocol. But, never replace your prescribed medications with thyme. It’s essential to consult with your doctor prior to using thyme.
Check out Vorst’s Lung Health supplement that contains thyme along with lungwort, ginger, and fenugreek.
Disclaimer – This article is intended to enhance general awareness and cannot be treated as a medical guideline.