Thyme oil inhibits COX-2 and suppresses inflammation

In 2007 I wrote a post and page ( 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: 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: 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:

I looked up the actual study, of course. The abstract can be found here: 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: 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: 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!


  1. How is that stuff going to taste???? Do you think you just put thyme into olive oil for a month or so?????? I know how to make tinctures with alcohol. Wonder if it is similar? Good luck!

  2. Your article about oil of thyme and carvacrol reminded me of research I had done on oregano and carvacrol and its use as an antibiotic against staph infections.
    The study had been done in Italy–who should know better about oregano?! 🙂 The study also mentions its use as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and. . .ta dah–anti-tumoral. The link for the article, Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms, published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, is found here:

    Other studies conducted at Georgetown University, Cornell University, and the University of Tennessee have shown Oregano Oil to rival the effectiveness of standard antibiotics such as Streptomycin, Penicillin, Vacnomycin, Nystatin, and Amphotericin.

    From what I’ve read, the best source for the highest concentration of carvacrol is found in Wild Mediterranean oregano leaf with at least 70% carvacrol, again from Italy.

    BTW thank you, thank you for all the time you spend researching and writing coherently to help those with myeloma (and other cancers) digest the myriad information available! Because of your site my husband (dx 1 year ago with mm) has been able to hold out against pressure from his oncologist to start chemotherapy. Your heads up regarding MRI’s and gadolinium saved him recently from being exposed to a potentiator of myeloma! He had one done without contrast.

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