In 2007 I wrote a post and page (http://margaret.healthblogs.org/antioxidants-and-chemotherapy/natural-cox-2-and-nf-kb-inhibitors/) on natural COX-2 inhibitors, which include curcumin, ashwagandha and boswellia (just to mention a few…). COX-2, or cyclooxygenase-2, is an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain as well as an independent predictor of poor outcome in myeloma (see, e.g., this 2005 “Blood” study: http://tinyurl.com/2lvw9t). It also plays a role in other types of cancer (colorectal, breast, skin, head and neck, etc.) and is therefore one of the many targets of cancer therapy.
Well, I recently came upon another substance that has been found to inhibit COX-2. A Science Daily article (January 14 2010: http://tinyurl.com/yek5sbz) discusses a study on thyme oil, which can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme, in a manner similar to resveratrol […]. Thyme oil…like resveratrol?! Reading on…thyme oil’s major component -carvacrol- was the primary active agent. And tests showed that pure carvacrol extracts decreased COX-2 levels […] by over 80%. Wow. For more information on carvacrol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carvacrol
I looked up the actual study, of course. The abstract can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/yd4y69v The authors show that COX-2 promoter activity was suppressed by essential oils derived from thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel, and bergamot […]. The full 2010 text is not available for free online; however, the full 2009 “accepted manuscript” can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/y9ytad2. Good enough. Yes indeed: like resveratrol, carvacrol from thyme oil was found to be a major suppressor of COX-2 expression […].
Compare the anti-COX-2 activity of thyme oil with that of other essential oils: thyme (65%), clove (40%), rose (30%), eucalyptus (25%), fennel (22%), and bergamot oils (21%) […]. The authors tested other oils, such as lavender, lemon, linseed, olive, sesame etc., but did not find any COX-2-inhibiting effects.
According to the study, thyme oil has anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-mutagenic, anti-genotoxic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, angiogenic, anti-parasitic, anti-platelet, anti-hepatotoxic, and hepatoprotective properties. Quite impressive, eh?
Well, I will now update my Page on COX-2 inhibitors…by the way, we can apparently make our own thyme oil…I am still looking into that and would be glad to receive any suggestions…
P.S. The World’s Healthiest Foods website has heaps of information on thyme: http://tinyurl.com/yh3hvee It is here that I learned that just two teaspoons of thyme a day give us more than 60% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin K…not bad at all!