Thyme Essential Oil: A Historical Perspective
Thyme essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the leaves and flowers of plant species Thymus vulgaris, a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is known for its strong aroma and various medicinal properties.
From ancient times, Thymus species, particularly Thymus vulgaris, have been used as medicinal plants, in a form of herbal teas or essential oils, against common cold, cough, bacterial infections, and for preventing production of excessive intestinal gas.Thyme, known as “za’atar” in Arabic, has been a part of traditional Yemeni medicine and cuisine for generations. Thyme leaves in warm milk or sesame oil were used to help in the treatment of gastritis, tonsillitis, sore throat and renal colic.
Thyme Essential Oil and Digestive Health: Unveiling Its Benefits
Thyme essential oil has been traditionally used to aid digestion and soothe various digestive issues. Some potential benefits of thyme oil for the digestive system include:
- Antimicrobial properties: Thyme oil contains compounds such as thymol and carvacrol, which possess antimicrobial properties. These properties may help combat harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, such as Helicobacter pylori, aiding in the prevention of certain infections and promoting a healthy gut environment. Thyme oil is also very active against yeasts, such as Candida albicans. It may improve intestinal health, without impairing the population of beneficial gut microbes.
- Improved digestion: Thyme oil is believed to stimulate the production of gastric juices and bile, which can enhance the digestion of fats and other nutrients. It enhances the activity intestinal and pancreatic trypsin, lipase and protease. This may result in improved digestion and nutrient absorption, thereby promoting overall digestive health. They may also improve liver function and act as an appetite stimulant.
- Reduction of gas and bloating: Thyme oil may help reduce gas and bloating by relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestines. This action can potentially alleviate discomfort associated with excessive gas and bloating.
- Relief from gastrointestinal spasms: Thyme oil has antispasmodic properties that may help alleviate gastrointestinal spasms, cramps, and discomfort in the digestive tract.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Thyme oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the digestive system, potentially providing relief from conditions such as gastritis, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease) and ulcerative colitis.
Oregano Essential Oil: Nature’s Antimicrobial Ally
Origanum vulgare, commonly known as oregano, is a popular culinary herb that has also been used in traditional medicine for various health benefits. Oregano essential oil obtained by steam distillation from the leaves of the oregano plant is known for its strong antimicrobial properties due to the presence of carvacrol and thymol. These components exhibit antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, making oregano essential oil beneficial for health.
Oregano Essential Oil and Digestive Wellness
In terms of its effects on the digestive system, oregano has been suggested to provide several advantages:
- Antimicrobial properties: Several studies suggest that oregano essential oil, which contains compounds such as carvacrol and thymol with strong antimicrobial properties, may help to maintain a healthy balance of gut microbiome by targeting harmful bacteria, particularly Helicobacter pylori which inhabits stomach, without adversely affecting the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This property may be particularly useful in supporting digestive health and promoting a healthy gastrointestinal environment
- Digestive aid: Oregano has been historically used to aid digestion and alleviate symptoms such as bloating and gas. It may help stimulate the production of digestive juices, promoting efficient nutrient absorption and easing the digestive process. It also improves gut morphology, epithelial barrier functions and immune status of digestive system.
- Antioxidant activity: Carvacrol and thymol from oregano essential oil are potent antioxidants, which can help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This antioxidant activity may contribute to reducing oxidative stress in the digestive system, potentially preventing cellular damage and supporting overall gut health.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Some studies suggest that oregano may possess anti-inflammatory properties, which could help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. This effect may be beneficial in managing inflammatory conditions such as gastritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Summer Savory Essential Oil: A Time-Tested Solution for Gut Health
Summer savory essential oil is known for its various health benefits, including its positive effects on the digestive system. It is derived from the summer savory plant, scientifically known as Satureja hortensis, which belongs to Lamiaceae family. This oil has traditionally been used for culinary and medicinal purposes due to its pleasant, spicy, and herbaceous aroma and therapeutic properties, including antimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant activity. This plant is widely cultivated in Iran and it is also well known in Iranian traditional medicine as a muscle pain reliever, tonic and carminative in treating stomach and intestinal disorders such as cramps, nausea, indigestion and diarrhea. Today, it is not as commonly available on the market as some other essential oils.
Summer Savory Essential Oil and Stomach Health
Until now, scientific research confirmed the following activities of summer savory essential oil that could be beneficial for gut health:
- Antispasmodic activity: savory oil has a relaxant effect on intestinal smooth muscle and inhibits contractions, which justifies its use in folk medicine as a remedy for intestinal cramps
- Carminative properties: which means it can help to relieve gas and bloating It may also have a positive impact on digestion, helping to improve overall digestive function, promoting healthy bowel movements and alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Antimicrobial properties: which may help combat harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract, such as Helicobacter pylori, thereby promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiome. It also showed considerable antibacterial activity against common pathogens involved in gastroenteritis and seems to be effective in infectious diarrhoea.
- Anti-inflamatory activity – Some studies suggest that Satureja hortensis essential oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the digestive system. Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to various digestive disorders, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Gastritis, Peptic Ulcers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and the anti-inflammatory properties of this essential oil might help alleviate such conditions.
The Synergistic Power of Thyme, Oregano, and Summer Savory Essential Oils for Your Digestive Health
Since essential oils of thyme, oregano and summer savory were used as herbal medicines for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and consumed as spices for a long time without showing adverse effects, it seems reasonable to use these remedies instead of medicines which reduce intestinal activity and have serious side effects.
It is important to note that essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts and should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as sunflower, coconut or jojoba oil, before ingestion. Additionally, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional before using essential oils, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
The specific combination of thyme, oregano and summer savory essential oils is encapsulated in the herbal preparation HerbELICO®, which cleanse the stomach and maintain a healthy level of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach and thus supports stomach health, without having any adverse effect. Encapsulation of essential oils in HerbELICO® makes them easy to swallow without causing irritation to the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Author: Nataša Simin, PhD in Biochemistry
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