16 Surprising Benefits of Clove Oil

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

The health benefits of clove oil include relief from toothache, indigestion, cough, asthma, headache, and some symptoms of stress. The benefits can be attributed to its anesthetic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, and stimulating properties. The most important and common use of this oil is in dental care. Various kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and oral care medications contain this oil as an important ingredient.

What is Clove Oil?

Clove oil is extracted from the dried flower buds of clove, scientifically known as Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata. It has numerous medicinal properties and is used topically for pain relief. The oil is rich in plant-derived phenylpropanoids, with the main compound being eugenol. The other bioactive compounds include thymol, carvacrol, and cinnamaldehyde. The color of this oil ranges from pale yellow to golden brown. It has a spicy fragrance, similar to that of cloves. The oil is also commonly used as a fragrance and flavoring agent. [1]

Health Benefits

Although the oil is known primarily for dental care, the benefits are not limited to it. This powerful oil can do wonders for you. Let’s take a look at the multiple benefits that clove oil has to offer.

Skincare for Acne

Acne is an issue common with teenagers but can plague anyone at any age. Essential oils are making their way into our skincare routines, and with their positive effects, it seems like they’re here to stay. You may have heard of rosehip, lavender, or lemongrass oil for skincare, but the goodness of this oil is often overlooked. While it has been known to have antimicrobial properties, a study found it specifically effective against the strains of propionibacterium which cause acne. [2] [3]

Eugenol in clove oil has rejuvenating and stimulating properties, which can increase blood flow to the skin and make it look radiant. You can consider making it a part of your nighttime skincare regimen, but beware that you need to use it with a carrier oil. If your skin has reacted to oils in the past, it is best to do a patch test first or seek professional consultation.

A jar of clove oil and a bowl of cloves placed on a wooden table

The most common and effective benefit of clove oil is toothache relief.  Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Heals Candida Infections

Carvacrol and eugenol, in clove oil, have an anticandidal and antifungal effect. According to a study published in the Oral Microbiology and Immunology [4]journal, it can be used to heal candidiasis caused due to a fungus, Candida albicans. These yeast infections typically occur in the mouth, ears, nose, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. For an intestinal cleanse with this oil, consume it in small amounts. But it is best to do this under the supervision of a doctor.

Dental Care

One of the most popular and traditionally prevalent uses of this oil is to obtain relief from toothache or pain in the gums. Eugenol, one of the most popular elements of cloves can act as a natural anesthetic when applied topically. While clove oil does not have any truly healing properties which can treat the root cause of your dental issues, it does work wonders as a natural palliative care option you can keep at home. Usually, it is best to dilute it with a carrier oil and use on the problem area. Head over to ‘How To Use Clove Oil For Toothache‘ to know more about how to dilute and use it effectively. [5] [6]

Relieves Teething Pain

A study published in the British Dental Journal on teething trouble in infants recommends the use of clove oil as an ‘alternative holistic’ method. The medicinal properties of this oil make it suitable for formulating soothing balm for teething infants. It can be applied to a baby’s gums in an extremely diluted form. The antiseptic and soothing qualities of the oil can ease the pain and reduce the discomfort. [7]

Health benefits of clove oil infographic

Clove oil is extracted from the dried flower buds of clove (Eugenia caryophyllata).

Boosts Sex Drive

Clove oil,  or even cloves, is considered a powerful aphrodisiac. Having 2-3 drops of the oil in warm water can help increase sex drive, boost blood circulation to sexual organs, and act as an effective aphrodisiac. [8]

Antimicrobial Properties

Due to its antimicrobial properties, clove oil can be used for preventing infections. It can be useful for wounds, cuts, scabies, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, bruises, prickly heat, and other types of injuries. It can also be used for treating insect bites and stings. The oil is very strong and should always be used in a diluted form. It should be carefully used by people with sensitive skin. [9]

Antibacterial Properties

Clove oil has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties and can inhibit the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria. According to research, the phenolic compounds in the oil can kill several gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. [10]

Boosts Immune System

Both cloves and its oil are useful for boosting the immune system. Their antiviral properties can help fortify resistance to a multitude of diseases because the antioxidants in clove essential oil scavenge the body of dangerous free radicals. [11]

High Antioxidant Content

Eugenol in this oil is a powerful antioxidant with high free radical scavenging activity. It has some antioxidants and ranks high in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, which means that using it in small amounts or applying it to the skin can reduce oxidative stress and prevent chronic diseases. [12]

Increases Blood Circulation

Eugenol is a versatile component that also helps stimulate blood circulation. Increased circulation adds to the oxygenation of the blood and organ systems, which increases metabolism. [13]

Prevents Ulcers

Clove oil, according to a research study, helps stimulate the synthesis of mucus, an important gastro-protective factor. This is why the oil and eugenol, its main compound, help protect the digestive tract lining and prevent the formation of ulcers and gastritis. It improves overall digestive health and helps reduce nausea. [14]

Anti-inflammatory Properties

The flavonoids in clove oil have potent anti-inflammatory properties. This powerful natural oil is used to treat all kinds of inflammation in the body from toothaches, inflamed gums, skin eruptions, or muscle and joint pain, to inflammation in the gut. [15]

Heart Health

Clove oil can boost heart health in many ways. Research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that eugenol in clove oil helped dilate arteries while reducing systemic blood pressure. Another bioactive compound in the oil, acetyl eugenol, is a potent platelet inhibitor. It prevents the formation of a thrombus or a blood clot. [16]

Note: Clove is a natural blood-thinner and should not be used along with other blood-thinning medications.

Pain Relief

Clove oil is commonly used as a pain reliever. A few drops of the oil, when applied to joints and overworked muscles, provide relief from soreness and swelling. Ensure that you dilute the oil before topical application, and do a patch test if you have sensitive skin.

Helps Controls Diabetes

Clove oil has been studied for its potential to aid in diabetes management. An animal study published in the International Journal of Pharmacology studied the effects of clove as well as ginger oils on diabetic rats. It noted that these oils are antioxidant agents and could help manage diabetes and the symptoms that arise from the same. [17]

Hepatoprotective Properties

Research studies show that bioactive compounds in clove oil can help promote liver health. They can help prevent fatty liver disease and reverse signs of liver cirrhosis. [18]

Other Uses of Clove Oil

  • Insect Repellent: It is used as a component in bug repellent and insect-repelling candles because the vapor is very potent against insects. Traditionally, a few drops of the oil are put on the bedsheets at night to keep bugs away. [19]
  • Cosmetics: It is a common ingredient used as a massage oil. Due to its powerful aroma, soothing effect, and antiseptic properties, clove oil is often added as an active ingredient in soaps and perfumes.
  • Clove cigarettes: Traditionally, clove was added to cigarettes in Indonesia. However, it is just as harmful as regular cigarettes, if not more. [20]
  • Aromatherapy: Clove oil blends well with many essential oils including basil, rosemary, rose, cinnamon, grapefruit, lemon, nutmeg, peppermint, orange, lavender, and geranium. This makes clove oil a popular element in aromatherapy and other herbal combinations.

Side Effects

Clove oil can have a strong burning sensation if used in large quantities. It is always advisable to use small amounts of essential oil and to be careful when using it on children if you have never used it before. The side effects of clove oil include:

  • Allergy & toxic effects: An excess dose may cause allergic reactions or toxic effects due to its eugenol content.
  • Intestinal problems: It can cause intestinal discomfort, primarily in children.
  • Low blood sugar levels: This oil can cause blood sugar to drop. So people with diabetes should be cautious.
  • Bleeding disorders: People with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia or those taking blood-thinning medications should avoid this oil.

Pregnant women and those who are nursing should not use clove oil, as it is not clear whether this strong compound passes to the infant in breast milk. Also, patients should stop taking the oil before a surgery or a dental procedure as it can increase the risk of bleeding.

As with any change of diet or nutritional supplement, it is best to consult a doctor before administering or adding it to your daily or weekly regimen.

What is Eugenic Oil?

Eugenic oil is a pale, yellow, or colorless liquid that can be chemically separated from original oil. It is also found in the essential oil of bay leaf and cinnamon. Also known as eugenol, it is often used as an antiseptic and an anesthetic substance. However, due to its high concentration, it can be harmful to the liver if not diluted with a carrier oil or when consumed in large quantities.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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