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Is Thyme the Next Superfood for Acne?

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Thyme is commonly used as a flavoring for cooking, but new research suggests that it may also help prevent acne from forming. Read more about how thyme can heal acne below.

Many teens and young adults suffer from painful, inflamed acne on a routine basis. Often, nothing seems to work and the prescription often given to teens is just to give it time.

However, as time goes by, some adults do not recover from teen acne and some adults find their skin worsening as they age. If you are suffering from prolonged acne, a different kind of time may have the answers for clear skin.

A 2012 study published by Leeds Metropolitan University found that thyme was more effective than standard over-the-counter treatments for acne. Learn more about how thyme can benefit acne below.

Consult with your doctor before taking any additional internal remedies for acne, as certain doses of supplements can be toxic or harmful in some cases, such as when a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Thyme and Acne Study Results

The study was conducted on Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for most facial acne. The researchers tested several natural tinctures, including marigold, myrrh, and thyme- and found that thyme was the most effective at killing acne bacteria in under five minutes.

Thyme was also found to contain more antibacterial properties than traditional over-the-counter acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide.

According to the study authors, "The plant material is steeped in alcohol for days or even weeks to prepare a tincture. This process draws out the active compounds from the plant. While thyme, marigold, and myrrh are common herbal alternatives to standard antibacterial skin washes, this is the first study to demonstrate the effect they have on the bacterium that causes the infection leading to acne."

The researchers gauged the effectiveness of the tincture against plain alcohol, and it was found that the thyme mixture was more effective than alcohol or any of the other methods. However, one drawback to this study is that the test was in-vitro, meaning it was not tested on humans with acne- only against the acne bacteria itself.

Further study to determine if thyme works equally effectively on the skin is necessary before this treatment method can be fully confirmed. However, the study authors were optimistic about this new treatment method. “Herbal preparations are less harsh on the skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties while our results suggest they can be just as, if not more, effective than chemical treatments,” the study report stated.

Healing Properties of Thyme

Thyme actually has a variety of health benefits both for internal and external use. According to Medical News Today, thyme contains high concentrations of thymol, which is called a “biocide” because it can kill harmful organisms. Thyme is well known for its antimicrobial properties both internally and externally.

Internal Benefits

According to studies conducted by the University of Manitoba, thymol can reduce the resistance of bacteria to commonly used antibiotics, like penicillin.

Foodborne bacterial infections: Thyme has strong antimicrobial properties, which means it can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.

In a study from Food Science and Technology International, researchers found that thyme oil was able to protect food from food born bacteria. Thyme was even able to protect against bacteria that normally resist other forms of antibiotics, including clinical strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Escherichia.

Yeast infections: Researchers at the University of Turin tested thyme oil against the fungus that causes yeast overgrowth- Candida albicans. The researchers found that thyme oil was able to significantly reduce the number of yeast colonies in the human body.

External Benefits

In addition to the acne study conducted on thyme, it has also been shown to improve the following conditions when used externally:

Mosquito bites: In a study from Chungbuk National University in South Korea, researchers found that a combination of thymol, alpha-terpinene, and carvacrol was able to kill mosquito larvae that can carry diseases like malaria and West Nile virus.

Cooking oils: In a study conducted by the Institute of Agricultural and Food Biotechnology, scientists found that by adding thyme extract to sunflower oil in the concentration of 1 percent, it was able to extend the shelf life of the oil and prevent oxidation. The researchers stated, "Results show that thyme extract prolonged stability of sunflower oil and it may be a potent antioxidant for its stabilization."

Eczema: A study from Addis Ababa University found that a cream containing 3% thyme essential oil was able to cure eczema lesions in 66.5 percent of cases. A placebo cream was able to cure just 28.5 percent of cases.

Nutrients in Thyme

In addition to providing specific health benefits, thyme is also a powerhouse of nutrients. Thyme is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, minerals, and vitamins. Used inside or out it provides an infusion of essential nutrients in the diet. Thyme contains iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin B9 and B6.

Just ¼ cup of thyme contains the following daily recommended nutrients:

Nutrients in ¼ Cup of Thyme
  • 5 percent of B6
  • 53 percent of vitamin C
  • 31 percent of vitamin A
  • 43 percent of iron
  • 8 percent of magnesium
  • 8 percent of calcium
  • 15 percent of manganese

How to Use Thyme to Cure Acne

Thyme can be used for acne in two different ways. Thyme and Witch Hazel Witch hazel has antibacterial properties and is often used as a natural astringent to dry out acne pimples and prevent them from returning.

A mixture of thyme and witch hazel will help heal existing pimples while preventing new breakouts from occurring.

  • Infuse dried thyme leaves into about 1 cup of witch hazel.
  • Allow the leaves to sit for about a month before using the mixture.
  • Apply it to the face with a cotton ball twice a day.

Thyme Essential Oil

Another way to use thyme for acne is by using thyme essential oil. This is a more moisturizing preparation, which will cause less dryness on the skin.

  • Mix about 3 parts carrier oil (coconut oil is usually beneficial in fighting acne) and 1 part thyme oil together in a small container.
  • Apply the mixture to the face each night for an acne-fighting boost.

Other Natural Ways to Fight Acne

Although thyme can be an effective method for reducing the number of acne bacteria on the skin, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely eliminates acne. Most acne sufferers benefit from a variety of acne-fighting methods that work from the inside and outside. Try adding these natural acne-fighters to your daily regimen in addition to the application of thyme:

Additional Supplements and Vitamins

Studies show that a variety of vitamins and supplements are beneficial for fighting acne in addition to thyme.

Vitamin A, E, and Zinc: Studies show that many individuals with acne are lacking in vitamin A, E, and zinc. When study participants were given a vitamin blend containing these three ingredients, their acne improved over time when compared with the placebo. It is necessary to take vitamin A and E together as a combo to maximize the absorption of both vitamins.

Gum Guggul: Some studies have suggested that guggul is effective at preventing nodulocystic acne, and in fact, is more effective than the common prescription treatment Tetracycline. Studies show that 500 mg taken twice daily is the most effective method.

Brewer's yeast: According to the University of Michigan, brewer’s yeast (specifically the strain CBS 5926) was able to decrease the acne of study participants when taken orally.

Topical Remedies

In addition to thyme, these methods can be applied topically to prevent and heal acne:

Alpha hydroxy acid: This acid, derived from citrus fruit, has an exfoliating effect when applied to the skin. This can clean clogged pores and prevent the spread of acne.

Green tea extract: In several studies, a lotion containing 2 percent green tea was able to reduce acne and redness in teen study participants with mild or moderate acne.

Aloe vera: When aloe vera gel was mixed with conventional topical acne medication, the mixture was more effective than the medicated ointment alone.

A Healthy Diet

There may not be a clearly defined link between unhealthy food and acne, but it makes sense that what you put in your body can affect your appearance. Healthy food can provide a boost to the immune system that will prevent acne bacteria from living on the face or elsewhere in the body. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals will prepare the body to produce healthy, glowing skin. In general, avoid junk food, processed foods, sugar, processed grains, trans fats, and dairy.


Numerous studies from around the world indicate that probiotics- both applied topically and taken internally- can benefit acne sufferers. Scientists believe that probiotics provide the right balance of bacteria that can prevent the spread of the bacteria that causes acne. In studies where participants were given probiotics daily, in just three months study participants saw improvement in acne symptoms over the placebo groups.

It’s Thyme to Cure Acne Once and For All

As the study cited above stated, thyme may be one of the most effective topical natural remedies for acne. While other acne treatments work best in combination, thyme is one of the only treatment methods that can also work alone. However, combining it with other acne-fighting methods, including a healthy diet, additional acne-fighting remedies, and topical treatments will provide a combination treatment method that will be effective in almost all cases of acne. In just a few weeks, you can have the clear, healthy skin you have always wanted.





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