Early days for 'thyme acne treatment'
NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, 2012
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A thyme extract killed spot-causing bacteria in a lab, not humans
“Beating acne may be a matter of thyme,” quipped the Daily Mail, adding that an extract of the herb could be more effective than benzoyl peroxide – a chemical found in many anti-acne creams and washes.
These claims are based on laboratory research that tested how well a range of plant extracts can kill the bacteria that cause acne.
Most notably, researchers found that an alcohol-based thyme extract could kill the bacteria that caused acne in the laboratory, and at specific concentrations was more effective at doing so than benzoyl peroxide.
The research has not yet been published but has been presented at a conference, which means that few details of its methods and results are available yet.
Therefore, the claims should be treated with some caution until they are checked out by experts, which will happen when the research papers are submitted to the full publication process.
While providing an eye catching news story, there is a long way to go from the initial lab-based results of this study and proving thyme is better at fighting acne or less harsh on the skin than existing treatments.
The study was carried out by researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University and presented at a Society for General Microbiology conference.
As a conference presentation abstract, this research hasn’t been through the full “peer-review” process yet, as this usually takes place when research is published in journals (articles are reviewed for sense and validity by experts in the field to ensure they are of sufficient quality).
The Daily Mail story provided a good explanation of what was done in the study, but its headline, suggesting that herbal cream is better than existing treatments, was put more positively than is warranted by this early stage laboratory research.