Thymus vulgaris L. (Lamiaceae) is a well-known medicinal plant that contains important compounds such as thymol and carvacrol and it has been used in many pharmaceutical dosage forms. Thymol and carvacrol in essential oils are often quantified by gas chromatography (GC) technique but in this work, a validated and reliable high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method has been developed for the analysis of these two components in T. vulgaris essential oil. The essential oil of the plant was analyzed by HPLC and GC techniques. The HPLC system consisted of ACE C(18) column and an isocratic acetonitrile:water (50:50) as the mobile phase which was kept at a flow rate of 1 ml/min. The method was validated for selectivity, linearity (r(2) > 0.997 for both thymol and carvacrol), precision (intra-day 0.8-1.9, 1.7-2.6; and inter-day 3.5-4.5, 3.6-4.7) and recovery (97.7%, 97.6%) for thymol and carvacrol, respectively. The limits of detection (LODs) and limits of quantization (LOQs) were calculated to be 2.8, 0.6 µg/ml and 8.6, 1.8 µg/ml for thymol and carvacrol, respectively. The GC system consisted of flame ionization detector (FID) and CP-SIL 8 column. The concentrations of thymol and carvacrol in essential oil obtained by HPLC (41.2%, 4.3%) and GC (40.7%, 4.2%) were compared by statistical methods and they showed good agreement.
Keywords: Carvacrol; Thymus vulgaris; gas chromatography; high performance liquid chromatography; thymol; validation.