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Apr 4, 2012

Thyme: An Effective Remedy for Acne?

According to new research presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s Spring Conference in Dublin, the medicinal herb known as thyme may be a more effective solution for acne than prescribed skin medications.  

The bacterium known to play a major role in acne is Propionibacterium acnes.  This bacterium is involved in skin infection, and contributes to formation of a wide number of blemishes on the skin, including white heads and cysts.  After researchers tested the effects of different herbal tinctures, including thyme, marigold, and myrrh, on this bacterium, thyme was found to be the most successful of all three in killing the bacteria within a five-minute period.  In fact, the thyme tincture was found to have even more antibacterial activity than benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in the majority of acne creams and washes.      

This is the first study to show that thyme (along with marigold and myrrh) is efficacious against the bacterium known to play a major role in acne.  To determine whether the herbal preparations themselves or the alcohol contained within the preparations were responsible for antibacterial activity, all tinctures were measured against an alcohol control.  The results indicated that the antibacterial action was, in fact, not just from the sterilizing effects of alcohol contained within the herbal preparations.  

Acne usually occurs as a result of a number of underlying factors.  For this reason, the best way to successfully treat this condition is comprehensively, looking at each individual person’s diet, nutritional status, digestion, hormone balance, lifestyle, and other factors.  In addition to correcting any internal imbalances that may be contributing to the acne, a healthy skin care regimen along with thyme used topically may prove to be an excellent complementary therapy.  This is especially the case since many of the commercial creams and washes available on the market contain harsh ingredients and chemicals that may be irritating to the skin, but thyme is an herb that is gentler on the skin. 

Dr. Shana McQueen