Thyme may be better for acne than prescription creams

March 28, 2012

Herbal preparations of thyme could be more effective at treating skin acne than prescription creams, according to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in Dublin this week. Further clinical testing could lead to an effective, gentler treatment for the skin condition.

Researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University tested the effect of thyme, marigold and myrrh tinctures on Propionibacterium acnes – the bacterium that causes by infecting skin pores and forming spots, which range from white heads through to puss-filled cysts. The group found that while all the preparations were able to kill the bacterium after five minutes exposure, thyme was the most effective of the three. What's more, they discovered that thyme tincture had a greater antibacterial effect than standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide – the active ingredient in most anti-acne creams or washes.

Dr Margarita Gomez-Escalada who is leading the research project explained how tinctures are made from plants and herbs. "The plant material is steeped in alcohol for days or even weeks to prepare a tincture. This process draws out the active compounds from the plant. While thyme, marigold and myrrh are common herbal alternatives to standard antibacterial skin washes, this is the first study to demonstrate the effect they have on the bacterium that causes the infection leading to acne," she said. The researchers used a standard in vitro model that is used to test the effect of different substances applied to the skin. The effects of the tinctures were measured against an alcohol control – proving their antibacterial action was not simply due to the sterilizing effect of the alcohol they are prepared in.

These initial findings pave the way for more research into the use of tinctures as a treatment for acne. "We now need to carry out further tests in conditions that mimic more closely the skin environment and work out at the molecular level how these tinctures are working. If thyme tincture is proven to be as clinically effective as our findings suggest, it may be a natural alternative to current treatments," explained Dr Gomez-Escalada.

A herbal treatment for acne would be very welcome news - particularly for acne sufferers who experience skin sensitivity. "The problem with treatments containing benzoyl peroxide is the side-effects they are associated with," said Dr Gomez-Escalada. "A burning sensation and skin irritation are not uncommon. Herbal preparations are less harsh on the due to their anti-inflammatory properties while our results suggest they can be just as, if not more, effective than chemical treatments."

Explore further: Researchers working on vaccine for acne

Related Stories

Researchers working on vaccine for acne

September 26, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- With 85 percent of teenagers and some 40 million Americans suffering with acne, researchers from the University of California and the vaccine company Sanofi-Pasteur announced they are coming together to ...

Combined therapy of acne medications offers new treatment option for patients

March 14, 2012
A combined therapy of common acne medications was shown to be a potent regimen for treating patients with severe facial acne, according to two published studies involving Henry Ford Hospital.

Recommended for you

Link between cells associated with aging and bone loss

August 21, 2017
Mayo Clinic researchers have reported a causal link between senescent cells - the cells associated with aging and age-related disease - and bone loss in mice. Targeting these cells led to an increase in bone mass and strength. ...

Gut microbes may talk to the brain through cortisol

August 21, 2017
Gut microbes have been in the news a lot lately. Recent studies show they can influence human health, behavior, and certain neurological disorders, such as autism. But just how do they communicate with the brain? Results ...

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.