If you know your way around the kitchen, chances are, you are familiar with cloves. Their deep brown color and sweet, pungent aroma lends the spice ample uses as a culinary seasoning. We use it in desserts and to enhance the flavor of a number of savory dishes as well. Cloves are also traditionally used in cuisine around the globe.
Despite the versatility of cloves in cooking, this amazing spice also has a number of medicinal uses that you may not have even heard of. The essential oil of cloves can be used in numerous alternative applications, many for added health benefits among other reasons.
Origin of Cloves and Oil of Clove
Native to the remote and picturesque Maluku Islands in Indonesia, cloves come from an evergreen tree containing red and white blossoms in the family of Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum, also known as Eugenia Caryophyllata. In truth, however, cloves are the flower buds of this tree that have undergone a drying process. The clove tree takes up to 20 years before producing a single clove bud and at that point, the buds are not ready for harvest until they change from green to purple, then they are harvested and sun dried. Although the entire bud can be used, it generally takes roughly 4,000 to 7,000 buds to equal a pound of cloves.
Cloves were used in ancient civilizations as a form of medicine for a number of ailments. The use of cloves can be directly linked back to the ancient trading routes that spanned across Asia and the surrounding territories, including Greece, Rome, India, Russia, and China, to name a few, where it is possible that cloves and clove oil may have been traded between the civilizations that frequented the trading routes. With that said, it comes as little surprise that cloves and the essential clove oil may have made its way to a number of civilizations through this means to later be used for a number of health, culinary, and other purposes.
Similar to some of the other members of the herb and spice families, clove essential oil has a number of health benefits as well as other uses. In fact, the health benefits of clove essential oil ranks among the most effective compared to other essential oils when it comes to healing purposes. It has acted as a natural analgesic to aid in pain reduction and as an antiseptic to reduce potential infections of the living tissues.
Cautions for the Use of Cloves and Clove Oil
Despite the numerous health benefits and the various uses of both cloves and clove oil, the spice may not be for everyone, and for some, additional cautions should be taken when using cloves or clove oil for herbal health benefits. This is particularly true if using it as a topical agent applied directly to your skin. Clove oil is a strong irritant to a number of people and may lead to an adverse reaction among those with sensitive skin. For this reason, it is best applied in a diluted form even for those who do not have sensitive skin.
A second concern is the use of cloves oil supplements in individuals who are currently taking prescription medication for other health conditions. Since some medications, particularly those designed to slow clotting, can interact with cloves, please consult with your doctor before using cloves or the essential clove oil for health supplementation reasons.
Clove Essential Oil
The aromatic clove contains eugenol, which provides a number of health-related benefits and is often used as an analgesic and antiseptic in a variety of dental health applications, sometimes in conjunction with zinc oxide. It aids in dental pain, serves as a numbing agent, and plays a role in dental impression materials. This is due to the liquid eugenol, which is a colorless to pale yellow liquid oil derivative.
The eugenol in clove oil has several uses such as perfumes, flavorings, essential oils, as well as use for its antiseptic and anesthetic qualities.
There are three kinds of clove oil, each containing different amounts of eugenol:
- Clove Bud Oil is derived from the flower buds and contains roughly 60–90% eugenol
- Clove Leaf Oil is derived from the leaves of the clove tree and contains 82–88% eugenol.
- Clove Stem Oil is derived from the twigs of the plant. I consists of 90–95% eugenol.
However, there is contradictory evidence about the health uses of oil from any other part of the plant besides the clove bud due to toxicity levels and safety concerns. With that said, before using essential oil from other parts of the clove plant, check with your doctor before using.
Regardless of which part of the plant the clove oil is obtained from, the primary component that you need is the main ingredient, eugenol.
Clove Oil Benefits
- Pain Relief/Numbing Agent
- Animal and Pest Deterrent
- Savory Food Flavoring
Clove essential oil is used in numerous home remedies, over the counter products, and professional products. It is well known for its use within the dental industry, often used for analgesic and antiseptic purposes and sometimes included among the ingredients used for dental impressions.
- Clove Oil for Toothache, Oral Care, and Dentistry
Whether for use as a natural home remedy or for use within dentistry, clove has been widely used for various oral and dental health concerns such as toothaches and other dental pain as well. There are times when you may have an achy tooth, but the dentist may not be available. If this happens, having a temporary pain soothing solution to hold you over until you can be treated, can provide you with much needed relief.
The wonderful aspect about clove oil that makes it successful in treating toothache pain is its numbing ability. Before you apply the oil of cloves, simply rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any debris. Then, apply one drop of essential clove oil dabbed on a cotton ball and placed against the gums where the aching tooth is, or over a cavity for a moment or two, to numb the area and thus, reduce the pain that you are experiencing. However, since oil of the cloves is a skin irritant, you can protect yourself against irritation by diluting it with fractionated coconut oil before applying it to the affected area.
It can also be used to promote oral health by adding one drop to your toothpaste. Keep in mind that this doesn’t negate the need to brush your teeth twice daily. This, along with flossing and regular dental health checkups are all essential for a healthy smile.
- Dentistry and Clove Essential Oil
Clove oil has been used in dentistry for over a century. With its antiseptic qualities, it has been used as a source of pain relief for dental pain, sometimes associated with tooth extractions. It has also been used in the treatment for dry socket, which is a painful condition that can sometimes occur after a tooth extraction if the protective blood clot that covers the extraction site is lost too soon resulting in painful inflammation.
Previously, the use of essential clove oil was widely used in preparation for dental procedures It was applied as a numbing agent as well as a disinfectant for the gums prior to receiving an anesthetic injection. It was also mixed with the resin of temporary dental fillings as a way to disinfect the tooth’s nerve tissue and provide pain reduction before a permanent filling could be placed.
The use of clove essential oil is also commonly suggested as a means to disinfect an open dental wound post-procedure, as well as to temporarily treat mild toothache pain. Currently, you will find clove oil is used in dentistry to flavor mouth rinses, as well as numbing gels.
- Clove Oil Uses and Antimicrobial Properties
Setting pain relief aside for a moment, let’s consider the antimicrobial properties that cloves and their essential oil have. A report was released by the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology in 2010 and 2011, and was accepted in 2012. It discussed the antimicrobial properties of the performance of clove oil against a number of microbes. Some of the bacteria studied included those that have the ability to cause infections, such as staph, E-coli, and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, which can cause inflammation and sepsis among other problems.
The report revealed that clove oil, when used as an antiseptic, can inhibit these types of bacteria and yeasts, often resulting in bacterial death and reduction. Thus, you will find clove oil can provide some antimicrobial benefits when used externally.
- Clove Oil Uses with Cat Deterrents
If you have problems keeping cats away from your sandboxes or gardens, for example, many people are turning to cat deterrent sprays. Ironically enough, some of these sprays contain clove oil as well as garlic oil and sodium lauryl sulfate among other ingredients, as a useful way to keep cats away from potential problem areas.
- Eugenol Clove Oil with Microscopic Applications
Among the numerous clove oil uses is the increasing awareness of its effect on the microscopic level. While it has proven to be especially useful in dentistry and oral health care, it has also shown some promise on the microscopic level as well. Armed with clove essential oil, you can be sure to prevent a number of pathogens from flourishing and wreaking havoc throughout the body. Clove oil is particularly useful against a number of fungi and bacteria that, if left unchecked, can lead to a illnesses within the body.
In fact, when it comes to fungi, in particular, clove oil uses have been shown to prevent the growth of fungus in vapor form, and act as a fungicide when applied directly.
While the first step in fungus prevention is to keep areas dry to begin with, if a fungal invasion does begin, regardless of your efforts, clove oil can help stop the mold from growing. Mold prefers warmth and moisture as its key environment. The more moisture that is available, the more promising the environment is for fungi.
How does this relate to the body’s health? There are two fungal infections that commonly affect people which clove oil has shown some positive results against: athlete’s foot, and ringworm.
Tinea Pedis, or Athlete’s Foot, is common throughout the year among young and old alike. It can happen to anyone without prejudice and it is particularly contagious. It can be contracted by wearing socks that have been contaminated, walking across floors where others with the condition have walked, swimming pools, locker rooms, beauty salons, etc.
Athlete’s Foot is a form of the ringworm infection and affects the soles of your feet as well as the webbing of your toes. However, it has been known to spread to other parts of the body as well, such as the palms. For this reason, if you experience any symptoms of this fungal infection, anytime you touch your feet, whether to put socks and shoes on, or applying lotions or other beauty items, wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading the infection.
Most of us know athlete’s foot as the cracking and peeling of skin on the bottom of the feet and particularly between the toes. It can also cause itching and burning sensations and, in more severe cases, produce bleeding, inflammation, or even blistering effect.
When you contract athlete’s foot, changing your socks often can aid in preventing the spread of the infection. This is also where clove oil comes into play as well. With it’s fungicidal effect, clove oil can be a useful tool for eliminating your athlete’s foot as well as other fungal diseases that plague us. A word of caution, however, while clove oil is effective in inhibiting and killing some types of fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, it is not effective for all types of fungal infections.
Ringworm, a fungal infection that can cause athlete’s foot, can also create problems on other parts of the body as well. However, the good news is that ringworm is the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot to begin with. Why is that good? It’s good news since clove oil is effective against it and, can therefore be used to treat it.
- Eugenol Clove Oil for Bacterial Infections
As a result of clove oil’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, the health benefits of cloves can aid in the relief of some of the symptoms often associated with bacterial and viral illnesses, provide flatulence relief, and in some cases has even been claimed to aid in dispelling parasites and mites such as scabies and intestinal worms. It can also relieve the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Cramps
While it isn’t uncommon for nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping to go hand in hand with each other in a number of illnesses and afflictions, bronchitis and halitosis seem to be the oddballs of this list. However, some forms of bronchitis are bacterial related, therefore making it still possible to obtain some relief for this respiratory infection. Keep in mind that if the nausea is related to morning sickness common with pregnancy, do speak with your doctor before using clove oil.
Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a truly unique condition. Halitosis can be triggered in a few of different ways. First and foremost, it is associated with the foods we eat. Garlic and onions are the top contenders in this category, although there are others. Essentially, any food with a strong odor, when consumed, can leave behind a trail of, well, unpleasant aromas that linger whenever you open your mouth or speak. This kind of halitosis will eventually cure itself as the food is digested and the odor slowly dissipates. Although, a little clove oil (1 to 2 drops) mixed with ¼ cup of water can be used as a gargle to speed the process along.
Halitosis of another variety relates back to your oral health and hygiene matters. Despite all of the dental warnings and mothers shaking their fingers to get us to partake of the toothbrush of power, it doesn’t always happen. Life sometimes gets far too rushed and leaves us with our heads spinning and our minds trapped in a whirlwind of to-dos while Father Time ticks away.
However, the problem that you should be aware of with that is the sticky film covering your teeth called plaque. Okay, so, yes, plaque will build up. Whoop-de-doo, right? Wrong.
Plaque contains bacteria, gobs of it and it builds up on your teeth and gums like little martians of the oral dimension gnawing away at your precious tooth enamel and irritating your gums. Left for too long, these little guys will not only create cavities in your teeth, they can also leave you with red, swollen gums and a fresh start on the road to a gum disease metropolis. Bacteria do something else as well, they create odorific aromas in your mouth and the longer they are permitted to take up residence and multiply, the stronger the odor will be.
It’s best to make the time to stop them and that means forcing yourself to stop for at least two minutes twice a day to brush your teeth. The good news is that you can add a drop of clove oil to your toothpaste to create a powerful punch against the oral bacterial invasion. With its antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities, your mouth bacteria don’t stand a chance.
- Aromatherapy and Essential Clove Oil
Aromatherapy is a branch of herbal medicine in which essential oils are used for therapeutic health applications. The realm of aromatherapy is rapidly expanding, and gaining recognition among holistic healing practices. There is a common misconception that aromatherapy relates only to the use of pleasantly scented items and, thus, typically leads many Americans dismissing its effective use in health and healing. However, its use among European countries continues to grow where its benefits are more highly regarded.
Although the initial purchase of aromatherapy oils may seem like a small investment, they remain an economic choice in health and well-being treatments since only a few drops are needed to create the desired blend. Thus, a little goes a long way.
- Find Clove Oil in Ayurvedic Therapy
Ayurvedic medicine, which was developed thousands of years ago in India, places emphasis on the belief that your overall health and wellness balances on that of your mind, body, and spirit by means of your diet, lifestyle, and cleansing techniques. All of this is typically achieved through the use of medicinal herbs to supplement the balance.
The Ayurvedic practice is one of the oldest forms of holistic medicine still widely used today. Its primary objective focuses on promoting positive health rather than opting to fight diseases. However, practitioners may still recommend some treatments that are designed to address your specific health concerns.
According to Ayurvedic theory, everything within the universe is in some way connected, regardless of whether or not they are living. In order to achieve good health, everything must be in balance with each other. Any fluctuation in the balance and the potential for negative health outcomes rises and this could further lead to illness.
- Clove Bud Oil for Nerve and Back Pain Relief
Nerve pain can be exceedingly tricky to counter depending on its location, but clove oil can help. There are different kinds of nerve pain and some of those that clove oil can help with are:
- Back Pain
Depending on which type of pain you have, the manner in which you apply the clove oil will differ. In the case of a toothache, where decay may have reached the nerve of the tooth, a drop or two of clove oil on a cotton ball or swab applied to the tooth can numb the area and provide pain relief.
However, back pain and sciatic pain are different and, therefore, must be treated differently. These larger areas will require more attention. A holistic massage therapist can add clove oil to their massage oil blend and massage this into your back and sciatic regions.
- Clove Oil in Deodorants, Perfumes, and Colognes
If you make your own deodorant and want to add fragrance to it, you can add a drop of clove essential oil to your deodorant blend before packing it into your containers or dispensers. However, be mindful of how much clove oil you use as it should only be used in very small amounts.
Perfumes and colognes are a different arena than deodorants, and clove oil has been used in a number of popular perfumes and colognes, both the retail varieties as well as homemade fragrances. Some of the commercial colognes and perfumes on the market today include such top names as:
- Boss: The Collection Silk & Jasmine Hugo Boss for Men
- Hidden Fantasy by Britney Spears
- Arrogance Passion Arrogance for Women
- Dangerous Man Bruno Banani for Men
These only name a few of the numerous colognes and perfumes currently found on the fragrance market today. Not everyone relies on commercial grade personal fragrances, however. An increasing number of people prefer to craft their own fragrance blends with the use of essential oils. Imagine what you could achieve if you created your very own unique fragrance blend, not to mention the overall cost savings involved since a little bit of essential oil goes a long way.
If you are interested in making your own signature fragrance, there are a number of websites that will give you step-by-step instructions on scent selection, materials needed, and the process involved.
- Insect Repellent with Clove Oil
Most of us are familiar with citronella for deterring pesky insects, particularly mosquitoes. Every year as summer approaches, the stores seasonal aisles are flooded with a plethora of the goodies. Citronella candles, bug lights, lotions, personal bug repellent discs, and bug sprays galore line the shelves practically begging you to buy them, and why not with West Nile virus among a number of other biting insect illnesses that may be lingering in the air, paired with the itchy discomfort left behind afterward. Call it a moment of weakness if you like, but few people, if any, particularly enjoy getting practically eaten alive by the swarms of mosquitos that fill the air during the warmer months.
One of the problems with over the counter bug repellent sprays is that a majority of them contain a chemical called DEET. Although DEET can make the repellent very effective at deterring flying insects, it can also be toxic, particularly to those who are allergic to it. While there are a number of no-DEET bug sprays coming out now, you are still applying chemicals to your body whenever you use them. What if there were a better, more natural solution? There is.
Homemade, natural insect repellents can be easily created using essential oils of your choice.
The key is to dilute it appropriately in a carrier oil before applying it. Then, remember to reapply it every couple of hours as needed. Clove oil, is particularly useful as an insect repellent, just be sure that you keep it away from your eyes and mouth. You can also mix it with citronella candles or citronella oil.
- Thanksgiving Harvest and Clove Oil
As a signal to the end of the harvest, Thanksgiving and Fall bring a bounty of goodness and the end to the season’s crops. The hard work of the growing season is over and the abundance of herbs, food crops, seeds for the next planting season, and medicinal plants have been harvested and prepped for use over the winter season.
While the early American settlers brought a number of seeds and plants with them, many more were shared and learned from the local Native American tribes. The bounty provided by colonial gardens served a number of purposes. Besides food, the precious gardens also provided herbs, the beauty of flowers, a means to dyed homespun clothes, medicine, and much more. Medicinal plants were of key importance, particularly with few doctors around from whom to obtain the necessary treatments. Instead, the settlers had to rely on alternative means that were more readily available.
With Thanksgiving, we see savory dishes seasoned with herbs and spices to ignite your taste buds. Clove studded oranges made their appearance along with pumpkin pies and custards that were further seasoned to enhance their flavors. The thick aroma of many of the same herbs and spices still fills our kitchens today during the holiday season, serving as a reminder of the days of our ancestors long ago and how they survived the long winters of their time.
The next time you open your spice cabinet and cloves are staring back at you, remember that the spice we know and love has a number of powerful uses in addition to the culinary realm. The question, then, is where to buy clove oil.
There are a number of retailers, herbalists, aromatherapists, and others who readily offer clove essential oil for purchase. Often, it is as simple as locating a natural food store, Vitamin shop, or aromatherapy practice in your area. However, if you are unable to find a local provider, the world wide web offers a bounty of resources such as the following:
If you’ve never tried clove oil for medicinal purposes, you should give it a try. You never know where you might find a naturally effective treatment for some of the common problems that we still face today.