Antioxidant actions of thymol, carvacrol, 6-gingerol, zingerone and hydroxytyrosol

Food Chem Toxicol. 1994 Jan;32(1):31-6. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(84)90033-4.


Antioxidants minimize oxidation of the lipid components in foods. There is an increasing interest in the use of natural and/or synthetic antioxidants in food preservation, but it is important to evaluate such compounds fully for both antioxidant and pro-oxidant properties. The properties of thymol, carvacrol, 6-ginerol, hydroxytyrosol and zingerone were characterized in detail. Thymol, carvacrol, 6-gingerol and hydroxytyrosol decreased peroxidation of phospholipid liposomes in the presence of iron(III) and ascorbate, but zingerone had only a weak inhibitory effect on the system. The compounds were good scavengers of peroxyl radicals (CCl3O2; calculated rate constants > 10(6) M-1 sec-1) generated by pulse radiolysis. Thymol, carvacrol, 6-gingerol and zingerone were not able to accelerate DNA damage in the bleomycin-Fe(III) system. Hydroxytyrosol promoted deoxyribose damage in the deoxyribose assay and also promoted DNA damage in the bleomycin-Fe(III) system. This promotion was inhibited strongly in the deoxyribose assay by the addition of bovine serum albumin to the reaction mixtures. Our data suggest that thymol, carvacrol and 6-gingerol possess useful antioxidant properties and may become important in the search for 'natural' replacements for 'synthetic' antioxidant food additives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Bleomycin / pharmacology
  • Catechols
  • Cymenes
  • DNA Damage
  • Deoxyribose / metabolism
  • Fatty Alcohols / pharmacology*
  • Ferric Compounds / pharmacology
  • Food Preservation
  • Guaiacol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Guaiacol / pharmacology
  • Hydroxyl Radical / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Monoterpenes*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / pharmacology
  • Pulse Radiolysis
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Thymol / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Catechols
  • Cymenes
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Liposomes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • 3,4-dihydroxyphenylethanol
  • Bleomycin
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • Thymol
  • zingerone
  • Deoxyribose
  • Guaiacol
  • gingerol
  • carvacrol
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol
  • Ascorbic Acid