Thyme, marigold and myrrh tinctures were tested on the bacterium that causes acne by infecting skin pores and forming spots and cysts.
The Society for General Microbiology’s Spring Conference in Dublin was told that while all the preparations were able to kill the bacterium after five minutes exposure, thyme was the most effective.
The thyme tincture was found to have 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 said
“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.”
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.
“The problem with treatments containing benzoyl peroxide is the side-effects they are associated with,” she added.
“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.”
The research was carried out at Leeds Metropolitan University.