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10 December 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Clove Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Clove oil has great benefits for gut and oral health, and can fight against infection.

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A handful of clove buds.

Extracted from the buds and leaves of the clove tree, the warm, spicy scent of clove oil has long been considered a staple of the festive season.

Commonly known as a household spice alongside the likes of and , clove’s strong yet pleasant aroma is often used to create feelings of warmth and comfort.

While clove is perhaps most famous for its benefits to cooking, clove essential oil - ranging from clear to a pale yellow in colour - also has its fair share of powerful properties for our wellness

What is Clove Oil?

Also known by the botanical name Eugenia Caryophyllata, clove is a spicy, aromatic scent extracted via steam distillation from two distinct parts of the clove tree: the buds and the leaves.

Native to Southeast Asia, the clove tree and its constituent parts have long been associated with oral health in traditional Chinese medicine.

These days, clove is still associated with oral health and is also used to fight infection, ease toothache, and aid digestion.

Clove Bud vs Clove Leaf

In spite of their different extractions, these two oils have more or less the same benefits, with just a few key differences between them.

Of the two,  is more potent, with higher levels of eugenol. This gives it a stronger, spicier scent, along with more powerful effects.

However, it is not recommended for topical usage as its potency can make it less safe.

, on the other hand, whilst being milder in scent and effect, is safe to apply to the skin when diluted.

For this reason, clove bud oil is typically used in aromatherapy, whereas clove leaf oil is substituted for topical use.

What are the health benefits of Clove Essential Oil?

Like many essential oils, both clove leaf and clove bud carry a wide range of benefits for the mind and body. Some benefits of clove oil include positive impact on: 

  • The immune system
  • Oral health
  • Gut health
  • Skin health

Clove bud and clove leaf on while background.

What does clove bud do for the immune system?

Many studies have documented the infection-fighting, immune-boosting effects of clove oil - both bud and leaf.

found that clove oil was very effective against candida infections, and a further  found that it was also effective against staph infections.

Clove has been shown to help boost the immune system and aid its fight against cold and flu symptoms, and its  has been shown to have inhibitory effects on oxidative stress and inflammatory responses, which helps to prevent cell damage in the body.

It’s also been shown that clove has nearly thirty times the antioxidant stress of blueberries – a popular antioxidant food – allowing it to fight free radicals in the body and reverse the damage they cause.

Can clove oil help ease toothache?

When you ask yourself "what is clove oil used for?", it is likely you'll think of oral health as the primary benefit.

That's partially because the Chinese have been applying clove to ease toothache for over two thousand years, and its applications in this way have become infamous.

Clove oil has been shown to kill tooth nerve pain by numbing nerves in the mouth for about two to three hours, providing temporary relief.

These effects are so well-established that a  even showed clove oil to have the same numbing effects as the commonly used dental numbing agent, benzocaine.

Clove bud oil should never be applied to the gums, however, and before using clove leaf oil orally you should always seek advice from a medical professional.

Using clove essential oil to promote gut health

Applied topically to the abdomen, clove bud oil has been found to help to treat a number of issues surrounding gut health - including indigestion, motion sickness, bloating, and flatulence.

found that clove can help prevent ulcers from forming in the digestive system by enhancing gastric mucus production and protecting the lining of the digestive tract.

Many people have found that clove bud oil has provided gastric relief from a range of complaints.

Does clove oil protect the skin?

Clove oil is an anti-bacterial and an anti-inflammatory, meaning topical application could help prevent some common skin issues.

An aforementioned found that clove oil effectively fights against the S. aureus bacteria strain – one of several strains associated with acne and other similar infections.

Another discovered that clove is also effective against chronic itching, significantly relieving the irritation and sensation on the skin.

It’s important to note that only clove leaf essential oil should ever be applied to the skin.

How to use Clove Oil

Aromatherapy

Many of the benefits contained within clove essential oil can be unlocked through the well-known practice of aromatherapy.

Diffusing this warm and spicy scent throughout your home can help soothe and relax the body as well as create a comforting seasonal environment during the colder months.

Combine 5-7 drops of the oil with water and add to an oil burner or diffuser for a strong and festive aroma.

Alternatively, you can simply hold a bottle of clove essential oil to your nose and gently inhale or add a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball for on-the-go aromatherapy. Be sure to avoid touching your face when you do this!

Clove bud is often the more popular choice for aromatherapy due to its stronger scent, as well as its inability to be applied topically.

Massage 

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, clove leaf essential oil makes for a great at-home remedy for gut and digestion issues, and can be massaged gently into the abdomen for gentle relief. 

Dilute 5 drops to 10ml of carrier oil (such as or  oil) and massage evenly into the skin. 

We always advise performing a patch test before applying clove leaf essential oil to the skin. 

Bath 

Add 2-4 drops of clove leaf essential oil to warm bathwater for a soothing experience for the body and mind.

Ensure you use the oil sparingly and perform a patch test before use, as bathing with the oil may cause reactions to very sensitive skin.

Skincare 

Add a couple of drops of clove leaf essential oil to a carrier oil (such as sweet almond or jojoba oil) or your chosen lotion and spread evenly, or onto affected areas.

Clove oil’s acne and irritant relieving properties make it an ideal choice for spot treating these areas, however you must always ensure the oil is heavily diluted, as too much application can cause adverse effects.

We always advise performing a patch test before using clove essential oil on the skin.

Soap & Candles 

Suitable for soap making and candle making – especially seasonal ones! We recommend following a tested recipe.

Looking for creative ways to use your clove essential oil? Discover a number of fun candle and soap recipes in our Make at Home blog section.

History of Clove Essential Oil

Cloves have been a part of Chinese medicine since at least 226BC – it was documented at the time that anyone wanting to speak to the emperor had to chew on clove beforehand to prevent bad breath.

Clove was also revered on the Spice Islands, and locals would traditionally plant a clove tree when a child was born, linking the child’s life to life cycle of the tree.

    Whether you choose to add clove bud oil, clove leaf oil, or both to your medicine collection, by keeping this handy bottle of oil within reach you will be participating in a medicinal tradition stretching back thousands of years.

    Clove oil’s warming spiciness hosts a range of health benefits, and can help to keep you healthy well past the festive season.

    Shop our clove essential oil here.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Clove Bud Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Eugenia Caryophyllata
    Scent Type Spices
    Benefits & Uses Antimicrobial, Oral Health, Aids Digestion
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this clove bud essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this clove bud essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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