Researchers at Nara Women’s University in Japan have discovered that thyme oil may contain inflammatory suppression compounds similar to those found in red wine.
Scientists found that thyme oil—along with clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel and bergamot oils—can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme in a manner comparable to resveratrol, the chemical associated with the health benefits related to red wine. COX-2 inhibition is the same principal that enables pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to lessen swelling.
While all oils showed a considerable inflammatory response, thyme oil was the most effective, reducing levels of COX-2 by as much as 75 percent.
After additional research, lead study author Hiroyasu Inoue and his colleagues found that the primary active ingredient in thyme oil is carvacrol.
When using pure carvacrol extract in their tests, researchers discovered that COX-2 levels decreased by over 80 percent.
The study’s findings offer insight into the health benefits of botanical oils and may provide a roadmap for future anti-inflammatory drugs.