Researchers from the Prince Sultan Military Medical City in Saudi Arabia looked at the potential antifungal and cytotoxic properties of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil. Their findings, which they published in the journal Pharmacognosy Communications, showed that the growth of fungi and cancer cells were inhibited by the essential oil.
Fungal infections due to opportunistic pathogens like Candida, Aspergillus, Rhizopus, Penicillium, and Fusarium have become a major problem over the last decade due to the rising number of drug-resistant fungi. Additionally, the increasing number of immunodeficient patients in the hospital has led to more cases of severe and invasive infections.
Essential oils and their components have promising antifungal activity, especially against different species of Candida, Trichophyton, and Aspergillus.
Thyme is an aromatic herb that has been used as a traditional remedy for headaches, cough, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, warts, worms and kidney problems. Additionally, people used this herb for its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
Studies have shown that thyme contains chemicals like thymol, gamma-terpinene, rho-cymene, linalool, myrcene, alpha-pinene, carvacrol, alpha-thujene, and the potent antibacterial compound eugenol.
In this study, the researchers determined the phytochemical content of thyme essential oil and proceeded to determine its antifungal and cytotoxic activity.
To determine antifungal activity, the team tested thyme essential oil against seven pathogenic fungal strains, namely Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. kefyr, C. parapsilosis, Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, and Fusarium. Meanwhile, they determined in vitro cytotoxicity against human breast cancer cells.
The results of the study showed that thyme essential oil has potent antifungal activity against different pathogenic fungi and that it exhibits cytotoxicity against cancer cells.