In 2010, Chinese researchers investigated several essential oils for both their antibacterial (see discussion below under Skin Conditions) and anti-cancer activity. Researchers found that thyme oil had the best ability to inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cells − it had a 97 percent kill rate. MCF-7 cells are estrogen-receptor positive, progesterone-receptor positive, HER2 negative infiltrating ductal carcinoma cells with metastases. Researchers found that thyme essential oil also showed strong cytotoxic (toxic to cancer cells) properties against PC-3 prostate cancer cells and A549 lung cancer cells. 5
A 2011 German study found thyme inhibited the growth of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Researchers advised that “Genes involved in the cell cycle, cell death and cancer were involved in the cytotoxic activity of thyme essential oil at the transcriptional level.” 6
May Fight Cancer
The properties in this herb have been shown to fight against tumors and cancer. More specifically, carvacrol is a major component of the essential oil that displays antitumor properties, making this beneficial plant a potential cancer-fighting food.
One recent study out of China and published in Anti-Cancer Drugs found that carvacrol inhibited the proliferation and migration of the two colon cancer cell lines. Overall, research shows that carvacrol has therapeutic potential for both the prevention and treatment of colon cancer. (6)
The essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) which usually known as “oil of thyme” contains 20-54% thymol. Thymol belongs to a naturally occurring class of compounds known as “biocides”. Biocides are substances that can destroy harmful organisms. When thymus is used alongside other biocides, such as carvacrol, it has strong antimicrobial attibutes. Scientists tested thyme for its antibacterial activities in vitro toxicology against three human cancer cell lines. What they found is that thyme kills lung cancer cells, oral and ovarian cancer (i).