Thyme Allergy Test
Latin name: Thymus vulgaris
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Common names: Thyme, Garden thyme, Common thyme
Thyme is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Thyme Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Thyme is a genus of evergreen perennial herbs which form part of the mint family, and are closely related to oregano. The various members of the genus Thymus are aromatic herbs which have been used for millennia for both medicinal and culinary applications, and as ornamental plants.
There is a large variety of cultivars, varying widely in colour, aroma and flavour, but the most commonly cultivated species is Thymus vulgaris, known as common thyme or garden thyme.
Thyme is often found as part of a herb mixture such as the Middle Eastern za’atar or the French bouquet garni, or herbes de Provence. It is available year round and usually sold either fresh or dried, and can also be frozen to preserve its aroma and flavour. When used in cooking, it may either be added to dishes as intact sprigs, or alternatively the leaves may be removed from the stems and added alone, depending on the recipe.
It is most often used in soups, stews, sauces, and meat and fish dishes. Cajun and Creole dishes are especially likely to contain thyme. It can also be steeped in water alone or with other herbs to make herbal teas.
The main essential oil derived from thyme, thymol is a natural antibacterial, and is used in a number of fumigants, antiseptics, disinfectants, and mouthwashes (for example the Listerine brand). It has traditionally been widely used in homeopathic and folk medicine.
Thyme Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in thyme have been fully characterised to date.
Thyme Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, which includes plants such as hyssop, basil, marjoram, mint, sage and lavender, could be expected.
Thyme Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Thyme may uncommonly induce allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals. Although reactions may be uncommon or rare, they may also often be overlooked.
In one case, a 45-year-old man reported three reactions to food, once to oregano, and twice to thyme. He developed pruritis and swelling of the lips and tongue, dysphagia, dysphonia, and progressive upper respiratory difficulty as well as intense facial and palpebral oedema. On two occasions the reactions were severe, resulting in hypotension, vomiting, and nausea.
The two adverse reactions to thyme occurred after eating meat seasoned with thyme, and snails seasoned with thyme.
Occupational asthma caused by working with a number of aromatic herbs, including thyme, has been reported, and subsequently confirmed via inhalation challenges as well as skin- and serum-specific IgE.
In a study of 46 farmers studied during the threshing of dried thyme, 4 developed contact dermatitis after 5 to 30 minutes of exposure to thyme dust.
A number of reports describe allergic contact dermatitis to thyme oil or thymol.
Allergic alveolitis was described in a female farmer as a result of massive exposure to organic dust contaminated with microorganisms during threshing of thyme.