Clove Essential Oil
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is an aromatic tree native to the East Indonesian Makulu Islands.1 It’s grown today in many areas worldwide, and its unopened flower buds are harvested to create clove essential oil.1
Historically, clove was used in medicine to kill bacteria and in food as a preservative.1 In ancient India, it was a go-to herb for Ayurvedic healers who used it to treat digestive and respiratory problems.8
Today, science has confirmed what physicians and healers have believed for centuries: that clove essential oil is extremely useful for healing, disinfecting, and a variety of other purposes.2
Uses for Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil is very versatile. It’s useful in skin care, as an insect repellent, and in many other ways around the house. The following are a few popular uses for clove essential oil.
To address acne prone skin, dilute 1 drop of clove essential oil into 1 Tsp. of carrier oil and apply it directly to the skin.
Next time you head outdoors, you may want to take some diluted clove essential oil along as an alternative to traditional insect repellent.
In its pure form, one study found that clove essential oil was more effective at repelling mosquitoes than 38 other essential oils, including citronella and patchouli.4 During testing on human volunteers, clove essential oil repelled all mosquitoes for a period of 2-4 hours.4
If you’re looking to replace your toxic, chemical household disinfectants with something more natural, clove essential oil may be a great alternative. Studies have proven its ability to kill Salmonella due to its antibacterial properties.5
For household cleaning purposes, dilute clove essential oil in water and store the mix in a spray bottle. This mixture can be sprayed onto surfaces before being wiped down to kill bacteria.
Clove Essential Oil Benefits
For centuries, people have been enjoying the benefits of clove essential oil.1 The following are some scientifically studied benefits of clove essential oil.
Those who struggle with their memory may be interested in clove essential oil’s ability to possibly boost brain function.1
The results of one study showed that clove essential oil increased memory function and learning in subjects by reducing oxidative stress.1,6 It was able to do this because of its high antioxidant content.1,6
Another beneficial quality of clove essential oil is its ability to kill microorganisms.1 Studies have shown it can kill food-borne bacteria found on poultry.1,5 This discovery means essential oils could be used an alternative to chemicals that are currently used to reduce pathogens on meat after processing.1,5
It’s also very useful as a disinfectant at home. Instead of using harsh chemicals, dilute some clove essential oil in water and use it to wipe surfaces. It will effectively kill bacteria and cut back on harmful substances in your home.
For centuries, clove has been used to extend the life of food, and in recent years, science has stepped in to test its effectiveness at doing just that.1, 11
In 2010, a study compared eight essential oils to discover their usefulness in preserving food.11 Compared to fennel, cypress, lavender, thyme, pine, rosemary, and herb-of-the-cross, clove essential oil was shown to be the most effective at killing bacteria that causes food to spoil.11 The study also found that clove essential oil was an effective food preservative when added to fish extract because of its ability to stop the growth of bacteria.11
Note: Though clove essential oil is generally recognized as safe, it is recommended to consult with a professional before using this oil in your food at home.5
Clove essential oil has gained attention in the medical world for its anti-cancer qualities.9 Some studies report that specific chemicals found in essential oils, like eugenol, could possibly help prevent cancer from forming, reverse the formation of specific cancer and encourage the dying off of cancer cells.9
In one study, subjects treated with eugenol (the main chemical in clove essential oil) had a 40% decrease of size in their skin cancer tumour, and their cancer did not metastasize.13
This potential benefit of clove oil is largely thanks to its antioxidant qualities.9 Because clove essential oil is a powerful antioxidant, it may help combat the harmful effects of free radicals (cancer-causing molecules) that accumulate in the human body.9 While more research is needed, this information shows promise for the possibility of alternative cancer treatments.
Clove essential oil can also help keep your teeth healthy with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities.12 For ages, it has been trusted to heal dental problems.7 During one study, when used as an ingredient in mouthwash, it reduced plaque in patients’ mouths over a four-week period.12
The study also found that users should be cautious when trying this mouthwash; despite the improvement in these patients’ teeth, some of them reported irritation in their mouths and had to stop using the treatment.12
Note: Before using clove oil in your mouth, a professional should be consulted to ensure safe use.
For people who struggle with acne-prone skin, clove essential oil may be a useful remedy.3
A 2007 study examined the potential of nineteen high-quality, steam-distilled essential oils for treating acne.3 The experiment found that clove essential oil was one of the four most effective essential oils for inhibiting the growth of acne causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes).3 The other three oils are kaffir lime leaf oil, lemongrass oil, and michelia oil.3
Side Effects of Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil was used safely in some studies when applied directly to the skin, however, it is always recommended to dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before using topically to avoid irritation.10 It’s important to read the label on your clove essential oil and follow the directions to avoid the possibility of an unpleasant reaction.
It’s best to avoid using clove oil in the mouth on a continuous basis as long-term use can cause damage to the gums and mucous membranes.10
Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult a professional before using clove essential oil.10
Where to buy Clove Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Cortés-Rojas, D. F., de Souza, C. R. F., & Oliveira, W. P. (2014). Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 4(2), 90–96. http://doi.org/10.1016/S2221-1691(14)60215-X
- Nuñez, L., & D’ Aquino, M.. (2012). Microbicide activity of clove essential oil (Eugenia caryophyllata). Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 43(4), 1255-1260. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1517-83822012000400003
- Luangnarumitchai, S., Lamlertthon, S., & Tiyaboonchai, W. (2007). Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oils Against Five Strains of Propionibacterium acnes. Mahidol University Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences,34(1-4), 60-64. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.pharmacy.mahidol.ac.th/mujournal/_files/2007.60-64.pdf
- Trongtokit, Y., Rongsriyam, Y., Komalamisra, N. and Apiwathnasorn, C. (2005), Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytother. Res., 19: 303–309. doi:10.1002/ptr.1637
- R. Thanissery, S. Kathariou, D. P. Smith; Rosemary oil, clove oil, and a mix of thyme-orange essential oils inhibit Salmonella and Campylobacterin vitro. J Appl Poult Res 2014; 23 (2): 221-227. doi: 10.3382/japr.2013-00888
- Betteridge, D. (2000). What is oxidative stress? [Abstract]. Metabolism,49(2), 3-8. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10693912.
- Formulation and Evaluation of Mucoadhesive Tablets Containing Eugenol for the Treatment of Periodontal Diseases Bhimrao K. Jadhav, Kishanchandra R. Khandelwal, Anant R. Ketkar, and Sambhaji S. Pisal Drug Development And Industrial Pharmacy Vol. 30, Iss. 2,2004
- Sarmistha Banerjee, Chinmay Kr. Panda, Sukta Das; Clove ( Syzygium aromaticum L.), a potential chemopreventive agent for lung cancer . Carcinogenesis 2006; 27 (8): 1645-1654. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgi372
- Pulikottil, SJ, & Nath, S. (2015). Potential of clove of Syzygium aromaticum in development of a therapeutic agent for periodontal disease: A review. South African Dental Journal , 70(3), 108-115. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0011-85162015000300010&lng=en&tlng=en.
- Clove. (2015, December 30). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/251.html
- Gómez-Estaca, J., López de Lacey, A., López-Caballero, M., Gómez-Guillén, M., & Montero, P. (2010). Biodegradable gelatin–chitosan films incorporated with essential oils as antimicrobial agents for fish preservation [Abstract]. Food Microbiology,27(7), 889-896. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002010001036
- Sikka, G., Dodwad, V., & Chandrashekar, K. (2011). Comparative Anti-plaque and Anti-gingivitis Efficacy of Two Commercially Available Mouthwashes – 4 Weeks Clinical Study. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry,5(3), 110-112. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from http://johcd.org/pdf/02_Comparative%20Anti%20plaque%20and%20Anti%20gingivitis.pdf
- Kamatou, G. P., Vermaak, I., & Viljoen, A. M. (2012). Eugenol—From the Remote Maluku Islands to the International Market Place: A Review of a Remarkable and Versatile Molecule. Molecules, 17(12), 6953-6981. doi:10.3390/molecules17066953