NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS FROM THYMUS VULGARIS (THYME) VOLATILE OIL : THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS UPON MAMMALIAN LIPID METABOLISM
Biologically active secondary metabolites have been recognised in numerous aromatic and medicinal plants. Antioxidants from natural sources have been receiving increased attention over the last decade due, at least in part, to the concern being raised as to the safety of the synthetic compounds butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). Preliminary screening of plant volatile oils showed Thymus vulgaris (thyme) oil and a number of its constituent compounds to possess strong antioxidative properties. The five most active constituents were linalool, thujone, camphene, carvacrol and thymol. To avoid synergistic effects, whole thyme oil was used in the mice feeding trials. 720 μg of thyme oil were administered orally every second day to groups of young (6 month) and ageing (22 month) mice. Following the feeding regime, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the livers were analysed. Animals fed the diet supplemented with thyme oil showed significantly higher levels of PUFAs with arachidonic and docosohexanoic acids having particularly elevated levels. In addition, levels of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, a key enzyme in lipid metabolism, were elevated in animals fed thyme oil. During the ageing process, levels of PUFAs decline with concomitant loss of cellular integrity and function. Clearly, plant volatile oils capable of reversing this trend have an important role to play in human and animal health. Disease conditions such as senile dementia and acute memory loss are now seen as manifestations of inadequacies in the cellular levels of PUFAs.
Deans, S.G., Simpson, E., Noble, R.C., MacPherson, A. and Penzes, L. (1993). NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS FROM THYMUS VULGARIS (THYME) VOLATILE OIL : THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS UPON MAMMALIAN LIPID METABOLISM. Acta Hortic. 332, 177-182
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, linalool, thujone, camphene, carvacrol, thymol