Herbal remedies made with the spice thyme have been found to be more effective at treating acne than prescription creams.
New research, presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in Dublin this week, found the herbal preparations provide gentler treatment for the skin condition that afflicts most teenagers.
Scientists from Leeds Metropolitan University tested the effect of thyme, marigold and myrrh tinctures on the bacteria that cause acne. They found all the preparations were able to kill the bacteria, but thyme was the most effective of the three.
They also found thyme had a greater antibacterial effect than standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide – the active ingredient in anti-acne creams and face washes.
"The problem with treatments containing benzoyl peroxide is the side-effects they are associated with," said Dr. Margarita Gomez-Escalada, who led the research project. "A burning sensation and skin irritation are not uncommon. Herbal preparations are less harsh on the skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties while our results suggest they can be just as, if not more, effective than chemical treatments."
She said the study’s findings pave the way for the development of thyme preparations as an alternative treatment for acne.