Clove as a spice is the storehouse of beneficial health responses. Traditionally, it is very important, especially in East Asia. In the Ayurvedic system of medicine and historical Chinese medicine, it has been used extensively.
Clove oil is an essential oil obtained mainly from clove trees called Syzygium aromaticum, native to Southeast Asia. Nowadays, it is found growing in other locations too. Clove oil is obtained by distilling the dried flower buds. Other parts of the tree, such as stems and leaves, are of great importance too. Apart from therapeutic responses, because of the strong aroma, clove oil can be used to add flavor and aroma to your curries.
It appears as a colorless or light yellow oil with a typical strong spicy odor.
Uses of Clove Oil
Let’s have a detailed look at the potential therapeutic effects of clove oil and how it can be used at home as a natural remedy.
1. Relief from Toothache and Dental Problems
Clove oil is one of the best organic treatment options for toothache and pains within the gums. Perhaps it is the historical and most prevalent use of clove. Even some kinds of toothpaste have clove as one of the ingredients – you can confirm it by going through its packaging label.
Clove oil is thought to produce a majority of medicinal uses because of its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. One of Germany’s governmental regulatory authorities, Commission E, has recommended clove oil in case of any mouth or gum inflammation and as a topical anesthetic agent in oral dentistry (source).
If the clove-based gel is used orally, it can produce similar effects as that of benzocaine (a local anesthetic) by easing the pain.
Clove contains a major compound called eugenol responsible for effectively fighting against dental pain, sore gums, toothache, and mouth ulcers. Furthermore, when applied as a topical preparation, it acts as a natural anesthetic. You may dilute it with a carrier oil for guaranteed results and then apply it to the problematic area.
Clove possesses a strong aroma; therefore, bad breath can be effectively prevented by its gargling. All you need to do is add four drops of clove oil to a glass of lukewarm water and gargle two times daily.
2. Support for Healthy Skin
In 2013, a group of researchers conducted a study to evaluate whether clove oil cures chronic itching when applied to the skin. The research concluded that it significantly helps with severe itching.
Another study from 2007 studied the use of topical application of clove oil for the treatment of anal fissures in comparison with stool softeners and lignocaine cream. The results of clove oil effectiveness were amazing. The study showed that 60% of people recovered from clove oil use, while the stool softeners and lignocaine cream were beneficial for 12% of the group.
Some more studies show that clove oil not just disrupts the biofilms of a pathogenic bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus), but also kills the planktonic cells. (Staph aureus is one of several bacteria that causes the development of acne).
In short, clove oil is beneficial for the cure of itching and promotes skin healing when applied topically.
How to Apply?
To get rid of acne using clove oil as a natural remedy, you need to add three drops of clove oil with two teaspoons of raw honey. Apply the formula onto your face, rinse with water, and pat dry with a clean towel.
3. Anticancer Properties
A study from 2014 highlighted the role of clove oil for the human breast cancer cells when tested in vitro (testing outside of the human body, within a test tube or dish). The research concluded that clove oil can be used to kill cancer cells when used in enough quantities.
Another in vitro study confirmed the activity of clove oil against colon, breast, and cervical cancers. It is found that clove oil increases cell necrosis and disrupts the normal cell division in a colon cancer cell line.
Even though more research and studies are needed to further confirm the anticancer properties of clove oil, yet when tested in vitro, it shows the effective killing of cancerous cells.
4. Helps Boost Immune System
Clove and its oil serve as a booster for the defense system of the human body. Clove oil helps in fighting off the common cold and flu. The antiviral characteristic of clove oil can help in strengthening the resistance to several harmful diseases. The antioxidants within the clove essential oil may be the possible mechanism for strengthening immunity, as these antioxidants scavenge the dangerous free radicals within the body. Moreover, eugenol is known to have inhibitory effects on oxidative stress
5. Serves as a Rich Source of Antioxidant Content
Eugenol, the major ingredient of clove oil, is a strong antioxidant. It scavenges the free radicals. The ORAC (oxygen radical absorbing capacity) value of clove oil is high. This means that even a small amount of oil can decrease oxidative stress and hence prevent chronic morbidities when applied to the skin.
Clove has the ORAC value of 290,283 units, second to raw sumac bran.
Free radicals are highly damaging, and antioxidants are the molecules that can combat free radical generation. In this way, these molecules help slow down aging, degeneration and protect against pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
Clove oil, thanks to eugenol, serves as a rich source of antioxidants.
6. Prevent Food Poisoning
Clove oil proved to be a better food preservative when compared with potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and other chemical food preservatives because of its high antimicrobial activity, aroma, and longer half-life.
It preserves the food because of its antibacterial activity on common source gram-negative bacteria (such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella, E.coli) and Gram-positive bacteria (such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus).
Also, it suppresses the multiplication of another bacteria, listeria – a common pathogen to causes food-borne diseases. This empowers the preventive effect of clove oil against food poisoning.
7. May Enhance Blood Circulation
Eugenol present in cloves is the active ingredient that helps increase blood circulation. Hence why clove oil is also used in Tiger balm. Enhanced blood circulation means increased metabolism because of more flow of oxygen to the organ system.
Clove essential oil is for easing pain and discomfort associated with tension and headache, thanks to its ability to improve circulation. All you need to do is soak a rag in clove oil, apply on to the affected areas (whether forehead or temples). Let it rest for a while so that the blood vessels open.
8. Natural Agent to Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Heart Health
If you are dealing with hypertension, high blood pressure, clove oil is one of the natural remedies to help lower the blood pressure.
Studies conducted on animals concluded that eugenol seems to be the compound responsible for dilating the heart’s major arteries, thus decreasing the systemic blood pressure.
The results of animal studies stated that eugenol, therapeutically, is beneficial as an antihypertensive agent.
9. Used to Heal Candida Infections
Another amazing use of clove essential oil is to fight against Candidiasis, caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. These are the overgrowth of yeast that causes infection. It typically occurs in the mouth, ears, nose, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina.
The active constituent for antifungal and anticandidal effects are Eugenol and Carvacrol. A study published in the journal Oral Microbiology & Immunology researched how clove oil serves as an antifungal treatment option. It was observed that clove has similar efficacy as nystatin, a drug commonly used to cure yeast infections but with lesser adverse effects.
Additionally, clove oil can also be used to kill intestinal parasites. For this, you need to administer a minute quantity of oil orally for two weeks. (It’s best to try this after consulting with your physician or nutritionist).
10. Antimicrobial Activity
In a study conducted in 2012, researchers found that biofilms of the staphylococcus bacteria cannot be effectively penetrated by most antibiotics. The study further revealed that clove oil has this amazing ability to penetrate biofilms and kill staph bacteria. Biofilms are the slimy protective shield that surrounds the community of bacteria living together.
Another study in 2017 compared the antifungal properties of different essential oils. Among others, clove essential oil was found effective to retard the growth of many fungi with environmental origins.
Some researchers in 2005 studied the effects of eugenol on the growth of yeast Candida albicans. The study revealed that eugenol can kill the yeast community, both in culture media and in a rat model.
Similarly, another study in 2018 looked at the effect of essential oils on different bacteria responsible for respiratory infections, like pneumonia and influenza. It concluded that clove oil did have an antibacterial response when added in the form of vapor or liquid to bacterial culture.
Although the effects of clove essential oil are lower than antibiotics, it can naturally combat pathogenic bacteria that cause severe respiratory disorders. It exerts considerable antimicrobial activity over acne-causing bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, and pneumonia-causing bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
11. May Boost Sexual Desire
Cloves as a whole or in the form of oil can be effectively used as an aphrodisiac, an agent that arouses sexual instinct. Only the intake of 2 to 3 drops of clove essential oil can effectively enhance the blood circulation to sexual organs, thus boosting sexual drive and working as an effective aphrodisiac.
Clove essential oil is rich in antioxidant content and ranks second highest in ORAC value. It possesses effective antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. This makes it useful for treating various health issues like acne, toothache, dental ache, sore gums, candida infections, common cold, influenza, high blood pressure, and fungus in fingernails.
It can be used topically or administered orally in small quantities. Moreover, you can also diffuse it in your home or office to get relief from cold, flu, or hypertension.
All essential oils, including clove oil, are highly concentrated. Make sure to dilute before topical application. Try not to orally take it for more than two weeks in one go. Make sure to take a probiotic supplement during clove oil therapy duration. This is much needed to retain the healthy balance of bacteria as clove oil is a potent natural antibiotic.