Clove Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is a flowering tree which belongs to the Myrtaceae family. Although native to Moluccas in Indonesia, it can also be found in neighboring Southeast Asia countries and are now commercially grown worldwide. Much as it is coveted as an important spice, another by-product, clove essential oil, is also sought-after for its many benefits.

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The clove is an evergreen tree can grow up to a height of 12 meters. It has broad leaves with flowers that turn from white to green and finally red when matured and ready for harvest. The clove tree produces flowers after six years. These flowers are handpicked just before they open.

Clove is a famous ingredient in many Asian dishes as it is one of the most intensely flavored spices. Clove oil is extracted from the dried flower buds that look like nails. Other parts of the tree where oil can be extracted are the stems and the leaves.

Clove oil comprises different compounds, eugenol, eugenyl acetate, and caryophyllene being the three main active ingredients. Eugenol, which makes up 70-90% of the oil, gives the clove its scent. The different components of clove essential oil vary depending on the variety of the plant, the part of the plant where the oil was extracted, the condition of its habitat, and the method of extraction used.

Clove bud oil has a colorless to yellow appearance which generates a pungent warm, spicy aroma. It also has a high eugenol content. Clove stem oil has a pale-yellow color and is less expensive than the bud oil. The clove leaf oil, which has a dark brown color and lower eugenol content, is the commonly traded clove oil because it is cheaper compared to the two others.

The War for Clove

Clove is one of the most important spices and was once very costly. This spice was also an important and profitable trade during the Middle Ages. In 1816, the Dutch destroyed clove trees in order to raise prices and monopolize the clove business. This triggered the Indonesian natives to revolt and a war over clove started. As of today, Indonesia is considered as the biggest producer of clove oil followed by Madagascar.

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Traditional Uses of Clove Essential Oil

Natives of Molucca Islands used to plant a clove tree every time a child was born. They believed that the fate of the tree and the child are linked.

Using cloves dates back to thousands of years. Chinese emperors have required those who want to address them to chew a few cloves first to sweeten their breath. The oil has also been used as an analgesic and in aromatherapy.

The oil’s eugenol component made it an effective form of treatment for toothache and other dental problems.

Benefits of Using Clove Essential Oil

Anti-fungal property

Clove oil can treat candidiasis, a yeast infection that typically affects the mouth, ears, nose, GI tract, and vagina. It is caused by the fungus Candida albicans. The eugenol and carvacrol components of the oil give it an antifungal effect. It was proven to be just as effective as drugs developed to treat yeast infections. Clove oil benefits is untold able.

Antimicrobial properties

Clove oil can be used in fighting off infections and is used to treat wounds, bruises, cuts, and other forms of injuries. It can also work on insect bites. It has also been proven to work against Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of bacteria responsible for the progression of acne.

The oil’s antibacterial property can combat agents that cause respiratory disorders such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa which causes pneumonia.

Clove essential oil has antibacterial and anti-viral properties that help boost the immune system to fight off or prevent cold and flu.

For pain relief

Traditionally used as a cure for toothache, clove oil can also relieve various types of pain. It eases the pain associated with bunions, warts, and even nerve pain. Clove essential oil can be added to peppermint or rosemary oil and a carrier oil and massaged over the abdomen if there are any stomach discomforts.

Improves circulation of blood

Tiger Balm, a famous brand of topical medication, makes use of clove essential oil to enhance blood circulation. This balm is often used to treat muscle pains and discomfort, most of which are caused by poor blood circulation. The clove oil present in the balm helps improve the circulation of blood, therefore lowering the intensity of pain felt.

Powerful antioxidant

Eugenol, a compound of clove oil, works as a potent antioxidant against free radicals that can cause cell death, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Antioxidants help in slowing down aging and protect the body from harmful bacteria and viruses.

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Anti-inflammatory properties

Clove essential oil is used to treat all kinds of inflammation, from inflamed gums to joint and muscle pain, and even inflammations in the digestive system. This has also been on teething infants by soothing the gums.

Soothe skin irritations

Clove essential oil has been used to relieve chronic and severe itching and burning sensations on the skin brought about by allergens and even poisonous plants. Applying clove oil on the skin can prevent the likelihood of developing bedsores. It is also used to treat burns and wounds.

For toothaches and dental problems

Clove essential oil can numb the nerves in the mouth temporarily thus relieving toothaches and various dental disorders. A study has shown that the oil has the same numbing effect as the topical agent used before needle insertion. Clove oil can also slow down the decalcification of the teeth and help strengthen them. It works against cavity-causing organisms as well.

Promote heart health

According to a study, eugenol was found to work as an antihypertensive agent. It could reduce systemic blood pressure, which can cause hypertension.

Safety Tips and Precautions

Because of the potency of clove oil, it is recommended to dilute the oil first in carrier oil before applying on the skin.

Since the oil slows down blood clotting, it is advised not to combine it with blood-thinning medications such as anti-coagulants.

It is important to seek the advice of a medical professional before taking clove oil internally. It is also best to avoid using it for over two weeks. Taking probiotic supplements together with the oil will help restore good bacteria.

Clove essential oil is not recommended for children below 2 years of age.

For pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, ask a doctor first before treating any health conditions with clove oil.

 

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