Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds from the clove tree. Cloves have long been used as a spice to add a deep, sweet flavor to foods and teas. They are also added to toothpastes, soaps and perfumes. Cloves can be used whole or ground, and essential oil can be extracted from the plant. In addition to cloves' use as a flavoring and fragrance, the clove plant has other beneficial uses.
Clove oil has a chemical that can decrease pain. Because of this, it has been used in dentistry for its anesthetic effect. In a study published in 2006 in the "Journal of Dentistry," results showed that clove gel provided similar pain relief as benzocaine when used as a topical agent prior to needle insertion.
Clove essential oil may be effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi. In a study published in 2007 in "Phytotherapy Research," clove essential oil showed antimicrobial effects against gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Another study, also published in "Phytotherapy Research" in 2007, showed that clove oil had antiviral effects against herpes simplex and hepatitis C.
Clove oil cream can heal anal fissures, a common and painful condition characterized by small tears in the skin of the lower rectum. In a 2007 study in "Colorectal Disease," clove oil cream provided healing to 60 percent of subjects. This was compared to a traditional treatment using lignocaine cream and stool softeners, which provided healing to only 12 percent of subjects.
Clove essential oil provides protection from mosquitoes. Undiluted clove oil gave 100 percent repellency against three species of mosquitoes for two to four hours, according to a 2005 study in "Phytotherapy Research." For those who are sensitive to or choose not to use chemical repellants, clove essential oil may be a good alternative.
Consult with a licensed health care professional before using clove as a herbal supplement. Although clove is considered safe in the amounts used in food or beverages, there is not enough data about its safety if ingested in therapeutic amounts. Children should not take clove oil by mouth, as it can cause serious side effects.
- Drugs.com: Clove
- Journal of Dentistry: The Effect of Clove and Benzocaine Versus Placebo as Topical Anesthetics
- Phytotherapy Research: Antimicrobial Activity of Clove and Rosemary Essential Oils Alone and in Combination
- Phytotherapy Research: The Chemical Composition and Biological Activity of Clove Essential Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllata (Syzigium Aromaticum L. Myrtaceae) -- A Short Review
- Colorectal Disease: Clove Oil Cream -- A New Effective Treatment for Chronic Anal Fissure
- Phytotherapy Research: Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites
Based near Boulder, Colo., Amber Olson has been writing health-related articles since 2009. She has served as a respiratory therapist, exercise specialist and yoga instructor. Olson holds a bachelor's degree in health, physical education and recreation from South Dakota State University and an associate's degree in respiratory care from Dakota State University.