Clove Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects

From repelling insects to treating health issues like abdominal pain and flatulence, the clove oil benefits are abundant. Clove essential oil is used for centuries for its amazing medicinal properties, aroma and taste. It is one of the most valued spices across the globe.

Tracing a long history, Clove is a storehouse of all the compounds necessary to maintain human health.

Let us unveil much more exciting stuff about clove oil in this article.

What Is Clove Oil?

Clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum) is a member of the Myrtaceae family. The tree is native to Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia. There are about 100 species of clove.

It is an evergreen tree with a maximum height of about 40-foot. The tree blooms twice a year. All the parts of this tree – the wood, flowers, and leaves have a rich aroma.

Clove buds are the commercialized part of the tree. They are harvested and sun-dried until they turn deep red-brown color. Clove buds are used as a spice for centuries and are commonly found in households.

Clove is referred to as a ‘champion spice’ because it ranks as the world’s most potent antioxidant. It treats various ailments with its incredible therapeutic properties. Though native to Indonesia, it is now grown in different parts of the world.

Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Tanzania (especially the Zanzibar Island) are the significant clove producers in the present time.

Clove oil is obtained by steam distillation of clove buds, leaves and stem. However, only Clove bud essential oil is used in Aromatherapy. The oil derived from the other two parts are a potent dermal irritant and avoided by aromatherapists (1, 2).

what is clove oil

Scientific Name Of Clove Oil

Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia carophyllata

A Word of Caution:

“Clove essential oil” can be prepared from leaves, stem and clove buds. However, “Clove Bud essential oil” alone is used in Aromatherapy. Essential oils from leaves and wood of clove tree is a potent dermal irritant and might be toxic. It would be best if you were careful about the source while purchasing the oil.

History Of Clove Oil

The name “clove” comes from the Latin word “clavus” meaning nail due to its shape.

Clove is one of the most ancient and valuable species. It is mentioned in Ayurvedic medicines from 1500 BCE. It is also a part of the Chinese medicine since 220 BC. The clove was used in Levant 1700 BCE.

The clove as a spice has an exciting history of expeditions, wars, and trade. Talking about a place like Maluku islands in specific, it has been nicknamed “Spice Island.” A fascinating fact is that the natives of Maluku islands in earlier days used to plant a clove tree for every child born there. They believed that if something happens to the tree, it was a bad sign for the particular child associated with the tree.

In the 16th century AD, the Dutch found their way to the Maluku islands and began to trade cloves. Claiming monopoly to Cloves, the Dutch used to destroy the clove trees that were grown outside their controlled regions. It led to an uprising among the natives. The Dutch were holding the monopoly over the clove, and eventually, clove became more precious.

However, the monopoly did not last long. By 18th Century, clove trees started growing in various places. Eventually, the value of clove decreased, and the monopoly of the Dutch came to an end.

Colour, Consistency, and Smell Of Clove Oil

  • The colour of Clove oil is pale yellow to pale brown.
  • The consistency of Clove oil is thin to medium.
  • The smell of Clove oil is warm, sweet, and spicy.

Properties Of Clove Essential Oil

The therapeutic properties of clove essential oil include:

  • Analgesic – Reduces pain sensation
  • Anthelmintic – Repels intestinal parasites
  • Antibacterial – Prevents bacterial growth
  • Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
  • Anti-infectious – Prevents uptake of infection
  • Antineuralgic – Counteracts neuralgia
  • Antiseptic – Destroys microbes and prevents their development
  • Carminative – Relieves flatulence, easing abdominal pain, and bloating
  • Spasmolytic – Eases muscle spasm
  • Stomachic – Good for the stomach; gastric tonic, digestive aid

Chemical Compounds In Clove oil

Gas Chromatography studies reveal about 11 compounds found in Clove bud essential oil. Of those, the major ones are eugenol (58.29%) and eugenyl acetate (19.10%).

The other minor compounds found in the oil includes Alpha-Copaene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Alpha-Humulene, Delta-Cadinene, Alpha-Amorphene, Alpha-Farnesene, Alpha-Cubebene, Caryophylene oxide, Alpha-(E)-Ionone (3).

best clove oil benefits

Uses & Benefits Of Clove Oil

Though there are various clove oil benefits, the important ones are listed below:

1. Great for your smile

Bad breath, toothaches, tooth decay, periodontal abscess, and tooth sensitivity are the most common dental problems. However, clove can do a great deed in treating and preventing them. Clove has been used traditionally to treat many teeth problems. It is the most sought home remedy for dental issues.

People used to insert a clove (as a whole) in the cavity or topically apply clove powder or extract in the affected area to ease the pain.

Eugenol, the significant compound is attributed to this incredible function. Generally, toothache or any teeth problems are distressing and painful. When you apply clove oil, eugenol stimulates the production of a protein that desensitises the area around the infected tooth. It gives instant pain relief.

Also, clove oil being an anti-infectious agent and anti-bacterial heals almost all the teeth problems (4, 5, 6).

Mix two drops of clove oil with one tablespoon of olive oil and apply it with a cotton ball in the affected tooth. It relieves pain immediately.

Gargling with clove oil fights bad breath, infections and improves oral health. You should not use clove oil in its concentrated form. You can dilute four drops of clove oil with pure coconut oil and gargle every morning. It creates wonder in your overall health.

2. Fights infection

Clove oil is a popular antiseptic. It is also an excellent antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal agent. The organic matter present in the essential oil is responsible for its antiseptic activity.

The oil can be used to treat wounds, cuts, fungal and bacterial infections, insect bites, bug bites, and stings. It can also be used to treat athlete’s foot (7).

However, it would help if you were carefully diluting the oil with a suitable carrier oil. Mix two drops of clove oil with one teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil and apply it on the affected areas.

3. Boosts immunity

Clove is one of the abundant sources of manganese, making it crucial for metabolism. Manganese adds value to the antioxidant property of the clove oil. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids is found in abundant in clove oil.

Besides these, vitamin C and K along with various phytonutrients are also found in the oil. Since clove oil possesses antiviral property, it helps to cleanse the blood, stimulates immunity, and increases resistance to various diseases (8, 9).

4. Good for skin

Clove essential oil has an impressive effect on skin health. Apparently, skin is vulnerable to various infections, cuts, and wounds. Ever wondered why clove is found in many cosmetic creams? Well, it is an excellent anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic. Thus, helps in healing them much faster.

Eugenol present in the oil is effective in treating skin infections, skin lesions, and inflammatory disorders. Also, application of clove oil exfoliates skin, reduces wrinkles, and saggy skin. It acts as an anti-aging agent by stimulating blood circulation on the surface (10, 11).

Mix 2 to 3 drops of clove oil with one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil and apply it on the skin twice a day for glowing skin.

5. Eliminates toxins from the body

Human body eliminates toxins by sweating, urination, and bowel movements. Clove essential oil stimulates these natural functions of the body.

Scientific studies have already demonstrated the powerful antioxidant properties in clove oil. Also, it is a well known iron chelator.

Clove oil boosts blood circulation and acts as a blood purifier. The spicy aroma of the oil induces antioxidants in the body, which in turn purify blood platelets and boosts immunity (12).

6. Cures cold, sore throat, cough, and cold

Clove gives instant relief from migraines as well. The anti-inflammatory and cooling properties of clove oil help relieves a bad headache. This is due to the presence of flavonoids in it (13).

The anti-inflammatory property of clove oil also cures a sore throat, cough, cold, and sinus infections.

Mix four drops of clove oil and two tablespoons of coconut oil with salt. Apply this mixture on your forehead to relieve a headache.

7. Heals Earaches

One of the best health benefits of clove oil is the ability to treat acute ear infections and earaches. This is due to its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research show that the essential oils are capable of curing acute ear problems. A study revealed that clove oil (which was included in the mixture)  exhibited good efficacy in reducing the burden of infection and thus, decreasing the pain (14, 15).

Mix 2 tablespoons of warm sesame oil with 2 to 3 drops of clove oil. Apply this mixture gently inside the ears. Let it sit for some time. It soothes the pain and also relaxes your mind.

8. Treats indigestion problems

Since centuries, clove is one of the best home remedies for stomach ailments. Its medicinal properties can cure stomach aches, cramps, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, and much more.

With its fantastic antibacterial and antifungal properties, Eugenol combats the microbes that disrupt proper digestion.

Clove oil relaxes muscle lining of the digestive tract and heals stomach discomforts. You can mix four drops of clove oil with two teaspoons of olive oil and apply it on the abdomen for relief (16).

9. Relieves stress

Clove oil is traditionally used in various cultures and civilizations to get rid of stress. It stimulates blood circulation and reduces anxiety, stress, insomnia, mental exhaustion, and fatigue.

You could either massage with diluted Clove oil or diffuse it using a vaporizer. The aroma of the oil has a relaxing effect on the mind (17).

10. Repels insects and bugs

Clove oil is used to repel bugs and insects since ancient times. People used to scatter a few drops of clove oil around the room. The strong aroma keeps away mosquitoes.

Eugenol present in the clove oil is an excellent insect repellent. It is used explicitly for mosquitoes. As an insecticide, it also targets wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and other stinging or biting insects, and tent caterpillars. In Japan, Clove oil is used as a trap to attract beetles.

Clove oil can be mixed with mint oil, cinnamon oil, and geraniol to be used as an insect repellent (18).

Uses Of Clove Oil

  • Lessens foul odour in cooking: Some foods such as fish and liver, can cause a very unpleasant odor while cooking. However, diffusing a few drops of clove oil with the help of a diffuser can eliminate the bad smell .
  • Adds flavor to the cuisine: Cloves add an incredible taste or flavor to bland foods. Whether you use it in its oil form or directly use it as a spice, both works the same.

What blends With Clove Oil?

Clove oil blends best with:

  • Bay (West Indian),
  • Benzoin
  • Bergamot
  • Black pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Chamomile (German)
  • Chamomile (Roman)
  • Cinnamon leaf
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Orange (sweet)
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme

How To Use Clove Oil?

best ways to use clove oil

Clove oil is used for thousands of years. The oil is considered safe when used appropriately. Purchasing a good quality oil and using correct quantity can have an impressive effect on your overall health.

  • Topical Application: Clove oil is strong, spicy, and warm. Note that every essential oil is potent and has a right way of usage. It should be diluted with a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil. Eugenol the significant compound present in the oil is a potential dermal irritant. Prolonged usage or undiluted oil may cause allergic reactions. Always make sure you dilute the oil and then use it.
  • Aromatherapy: You can use two drops of clove oil in a vaporizer or diffuser to diffuse the oil. However, make sure you are not exposed to the oil for a prolonged time. It would be best if you did not congest yourself with the aroma as it is pungent. Excess inhalation of clove oil may cause a sore throat, coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Ingestion: Clove oil SHOULD NOT be swallowed. It is strictly not for oral intake. Research has shown that consuming clove oil in large amount can lead to liver damage, thickening of esophageal tissues and stomach tissues, gastric ulcers and kidney impairment. (19).

Side Effects Of Clove Oil

  • Clove oil is toxic when overused or used in undiluted form. Eugenol present in the oil is a dermal irritant. When the concentration of the oil is high, it irritates. There is a chance that you may be allergic to eugenol. It is better to perform a patch test before you use the oil.
  • If you are allergic to the oil or the oil is undiluted, it may lead to pain, swelling, and redness. You may feel a burning sensation rather than a warming sensation. Immediately stop the treatment and visit a doctor.
  • Clove oil is strictly not for ingestion. If swallowed in large amounts, it may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, coughing up blood, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and difficulty in urinating. It may even lead to coma.
  • Excessive inhalation of clove oil may trigger respiratory problems.
  • Prolonged exposure leads to a lung infection.
  • Eugenol interferes with blood clotting. Hence, people with bleeding disorders should avoid it.
  • Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using clove oil.
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