Thyme is widely used to treat respiratory conditions. In vitro studies have shown that the essential oil of thyme and thymol have antifungal effects against Cryptococcus neoformans and the species in the genera Aspergillus, Saprolegnia and Zygorhynchus, and antibacterial effects against Salmonella tryphimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and several other bacteria. As an antibiotic, the effect of thymol is 25 times that of phenol, but is less toxic. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that thyme extract has bronchodilator effects in guinea pig, which, in the amounts tested, is comparable to theophylline. The spasmolytic and antitussive effects of thyme are usually attributed to its thymol and carvacrol. Carvacrol may be responsible for the bronchodilator effects of thyme. In in vitro studies, flavones and thyme extract inhibit the response to agonists of specific receptor like acetyl choline, histamine and norepinephrine, also things that do not require specific receptors (for instance, barium chloride).(1)
In pediatrics, products containing ivy, which has expectorant effects, are used to treat cough in cases of common cold. In two open, independent, un-interventional studies to assess the efficacy and safety of the use of a syrup and a drop containing ivy extract to treat cough and bronchitis, 268 children under 12 years old were treated for 14 days using either of the two products. The effect on cough-related symptoms were registered using verbal grading scales. At the end of the study, the main symptoms: rhinitis, cough and mucous were either alleviated or removed in 93, 94.2, and 97.7 percent of the patients. An overall very good or good effect was reported in the case of 96.5 percent of the patients. The patient compliance and tolerance of the drug was good or very good in 99 percent (syrup) and 100 percent (drop) of the patients.
Five adverse effects categorized as mild and unserious were reported (1.9 percent), which were mostly related to the digestive system. The researchers came to the conclusion that ivy extract in the form of syrup and drop is effective and safe in the treatment of cough in children. (2)
The dry extract of ivy leaves are approved as an expectorant in patients with respiratory illnesses accompanied by productive cough; it has mucolytic and bronchial spasmolytic effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial, 30 children (mean age: 9.07 years; min-max: 6-11 years) with persistent, mild allergic asthma were studied, whose asthma had been either partially controlled or un-controlled despite long term treatment with 400 micrograms of budesonide. After a 4-week run-in period, the patients received for 4 weeks either dry extract of ivy leaves or placebo, along with inhaled corticosteroid, and there was a wash-out period before switching treatments. After each treatment period, lung function, Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO), exhaled breath condensate pH, and the quality of life was assessed. After the treatment with ivy leaves dry extract, a considerable improvement was observed in the cases of MEF75-25, MEF25, and VC, but no such improvement was observed with placebo. The study demonstrated that children with un-controlled, mild asthma, despite the use of inhaled corticosteroids, would benefit from the addition of ivy leaf dry extract to their therapeutic regimen. (3)
To study the efficacy of and tolerance to Bronchipret Saft (a combination of thyme and ivy leaves) in patients with acute bronchitis, in a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial, 361 out-patients with acute bronchitis (at least 10 coughs per day, bronchial sputum, at most two days prior to entering the study, bronchitis score of at least 5) were treated for 11 days either with the thyme and ivy leaves combination (n= 182) or placebo (n= 176), 3 times per day, each time 5.4 ml. Patients were visited on days 1, 4 and 10. The efficacy of the treatment was assessed based on the number of coughs per day, other symptoms related to the illness, and bronchitis score. The tolerance was assessed by monitoring adverse reactions and measurement of vital signs. The primary outcome was any change in the number of coughs during the days 7-9.
Based on the results of this study, the mean decrease in cough in days 7-9 was 68.7 percent in the thyme and ivy leaves combination group and 47.6 percent in the placebo group, as compared to the beginning of the study (p<0.0001). In the thyme and ivy leaves combination group, in 50 percent of the cases, in comparison to the beginning of the study, a reduction in the number of coughs was observed 2 days earlier. The bronchitis score improved rapidly in both groups; however, in the thyme and ivy leaves combination group, the regression of the symptoms was faster and the response rates were higher in days 4 and 10: 83 versus 53.9 percent and 96.2 versus 74.7 percent, respectively (p<0.0001). In this study, no severe or serious adverse reactions were reported, and the prevalence and intensity of the adverse reactions were within a similar spectrum in the case of both the thyme and ivy leaves combination and placebo. The researchers came to the conclusion that, in comparison to the placebo, the treatment with the thyme and ivy leave combination is more efficacious and well tolerated