Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 335–352 | Cite as

Chemical composition and bioactivity of essential oil from Thymus species in Balkan Peninsula

  • Sanja Ćavar Zeljković
  • Milka Maksimović


Thymus L. is one of the most important and polymorphic genera of the Lamiaceae family, comprises ca. 250 species distributed across the Eurasian continent, North and East Africa, and southern Greenland, but the great majority of the indigenous species is found in the area that surrounds the Mediterranean region. Thymus species can potentially be used as the medicinal or aromatic herbs in the pharmaceutical and food industries. The essential oils of Thymus species are characterized by a high chemical variability due to different intrinsic (genetic variation) and extrinsic (ecological and environmental aspects) factors. Despite broad scientific interest in the biology, taxonomy, chemotypes, and related biological activity of secondary metabolites of Thymus species, there is a general lack of information regarding this genus from Balkan. The aim of the present review was to comprise the literature in order to document essential oil constituents that characterize different Thymus species from Balkan Peninsula. Essential oil composition of 45 Thymus taxa from ten countries was summarized. In addition, it discusses the reported biological activities of Thymus species, with particular focus on their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Cultivation of rare species, monitoring, and standardization of their essential oils, as well as direct studies on cellular and animal models are needed to assess whole spectrum of biological properties of essential oils of Thymus species.


Thymus L. Balkan Peninsula Essential oil composition Antimicrobial activity Antioxidant activity 



This work was supported by the Grant LO1204 from the National Program of Sustainability I and OP ECOP Grant CZ.1.07/2.4.00/30.0041 (POSTUP II) from the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, Czech Republic.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Faculty of SciencePalacky UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina

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