QUESTION: I just received a note from somebody claiming that thyme essential oil is a treatment for anthrax. Can you comment? I hope all are well back in St. Louis.
ANSWER: Thank you for your email about Thyme Essential Oil and anthrax. I would never claim something like Thyme Essential Oil is a treatment for anthrax but I do know the incredible antibacterial powers of certain essential oils like Thyme. For example here is the impressive list of infectious, large spectrum bacteria which Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, founder and director of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, cites Thyme Essential Oil to be effective against: anthrax, staph pigm, E. coli, Pseudo aeruginosa, Proteus, pyogenes var.aureus, B. subtilis, S. fecalis, B.typh. What is not known to me at this time is the nature or details of the studies conducted proving these antibacterial qualities of Thyme. The details could be important to evaluate if there is a practical use for this essential oil in treatment or prevention of anthrax. Sylla considers this essential oil to be one of the most antiseptic. It is also well known for stimulating the immune system and treating respiratory problems. I found an interesting reference to a quote from Valnet: "an aqueous solution of 5% thyme kills typhus bacillus in 2 minutes. It can kill colon bacillus in 2-8 minutes, staphylococcus in 4-8 minutes and streptococcus and diphtheric bacillus in 4 minutes."
I recently read a St. Louis newspaper article about how some people don't get the West Nile virus when exposed. This is the new virus from mosquitoes that is increasingly spreading across more states in this country. Scientists are beginning to study why only a tiny number of people infected actually become seriously ill and even fewer die. Most people who become infected won't even know it. The virus breaks through the defenses of some people but not others. These scientists are investigating the complexities of the immune system in hopes of being able to predict who is at risk for the virus. Infants and old people are most susceptible but even in those groups relatively few people ever suffer from the disease.
Now I know this article is about a virus and anthrax is a bacteria but I couldn't help but to consider again my thoughts of how important the immune system can be when we are faced with any kind of toxin. The fact that Thyme Essential Oil is immune boosting, a pulmonary treatment and antibacterial makes it seem even more likely to be effective.
Personally I am elated to learn all of this. I sincerely hope more information is made available soon. See below for Botanical and Safety Information and references. Thank you for writing us!
BOTANICAL & SAFETY INFORMATION:
THYME (RED THYMOL) ESSENTIAL OIL
Thymus vulgaris L.
Tested non-toxic at low levels. Skin, mucus membrane irritant. Avoid with high blood pressure, pregnancy. Potential hepatoxic at high levels.
Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland: The Perfect Potion. 1995.
Sheppard-Hanger, Sylla. The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual, Vol. 1, Vol. 2. Tampa: Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy. 1997.
Valnet, Jean. The Practice of Aromatherapy. Saffron Walden: The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd. 1991.
Allen, William. "West Nile virus is under the microscope at WU". St. Louis Sunday Post-Dispatch. Oct. 7, 2001.
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