Clove Bud essential oil is best known for its use for toothache. However, its pain-killing and powerful antimicrobial properties derive from its high levels of Eugenol.
It is helpful for all manner of viral infections and fungal problems. There are, in fact, two clove essential oils on the market, clove leaf, and the more common is the clove bud essential oil we sell at Vinevida. Clove Bud essential oil gains its distinctive fragrance from its high levels of Eugenol.
Eugenol is a powerful antimicrobial agent in its own right. Also prevalent in the chemistry is beta caryophyllene which is recommended for pain conditions, supporting healthy immunity and inflammation.
Where does Clove Bud Essential Oil Come From?
Cloves are the tree's unopened flower buds, originally native to Spice Islands, Indonesia, and India. An evergreen tree that can grow from eight to twelve meters in height produces flower buds in clusters. These are pale colored, initially become green, and then bright red when ready to be harvested. Unharvested, the buds will change into white flowers against their long leaves.
Clove buds are beaten down from the tree, then laid out in the sun to dry. Then, the dried cloves are smashed to smithereens to release their natural oils. They are steam distilled, which changes the natural acetyl eugenol into Eugenol. (Battaglia, 2018)
Clove Latin Name
The word cloves come from the Latin clavus, which means nail, rivet, or spike.
Most aromatherapists have to check and recheck its botanical name when they write it. It is a famously awkward one, with way too many y's to be right!
Syzygium aromaticum. Aromaticum is straightforward and speaks to the delicious way the fragrance fills the house when you cook it, or even if you grind them, of course.
But what on earth is a Syzygium? It comes from the word syzygy. (What? More y's?) The Greek Syn also forms synergy and synonym and means 'together.' Zygon means 'yoke' – so together they mean 'yoked together.'
Surprisingly, for such an odd word, syzygy has several meanings.
In literary terms, it refers to poetic rhythm and the way a poet may finish one word with a consonant and then use it again as the first letter of the next, giving an awkward tongue-twister sensation.
It has a couple of biological meanings. The first is fusing two segments in crinoid arms, fossilized marine species, and how chromosomes pair and split in meiosis during sexual reproduction.
My favorite is that syzygy is an astronomical term describing when three celestial bodies align; the most obvious of those would be the earth, sun, and moon during a solar eclipse.
Clove is named this way because the leaves and flowers are arranged at a strange angle to the twig. You've got to love how particular the botanist was being there, don't you?
The Chemistry of Clove Bud Essential Oil
If we look at the Vinevida GCMS report for Clove Bud essential oil we can see that it is made up predominantly of three chemicals.
- Eugenol - 74.53 %
- Caryophyllene - 12.34%
- Alpha Humulene - 3.66%
Clove Bud essential oil does have several other constituents, but these three make up over 90% of the chemistry. So when we see an analysis like this, we can say that the actions of the essential oil will be very similar to its primary constituents. In the case of Eugenol, these are antimicrobial, especially antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Euganol also has viricidal properties.
Beta-caryophyllene suggests it will have pain-killing, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulant qualities. In addition, despite what its name may suggest, Alpha Humulene is also caryophyllene. It is an isomer of beta-caryophyllene, which means it has precisely the same molecules but is arranged differently. Alpha humulene is being researched for its anti-inflammatory abilities.
Just for comparison,
The Chemistry of Clove Leaf Essential Oil
- Eugenol: 77.0–88.0%
- β-Caryophyllene: 3.5–6.4%
- α-Caryophyllene: 0.8–1.4%
That's merely to show you how similar they are so we won't be talking about clove leaf essential oil in this post.
We'll drill down more on the chemistry of clove bud essential oils in a minute, but what about the energetics?
The Energetics of Clove Bud Essential Oil
Like most spices, it is warming, which makes it extremely good for what Ayurvedic medicine would call Vata Dosha and Kapha Dosha.
The energy of Vata Dosha is cold, brittle, and flighty. People with a general Vata disposition tend to be very small-framed athletic; they tend not to eat very much and be what I like to call flibbertigibbets. They are excessively talkative and dart about a lot, not settling anywhere. They have many projects on the go, their concentration span is concise. They can be forgetful, and it becomes tough to concentrate when Vata dosha goes out of balance. Clove Bud essential oil balances this, helping warm them, helping them focus more, and making them less forgetful.
The quality of Vata dosha when it's out of balance is anxiety; Clove bud essential oil can be reassuring and nurturing in these situations. Again, this cold in the bones element is rheumatism, arthritis, and similar pain conditions, clove bud essential oil brings warmth and relief to these.
Vata dosha is imagined as having the quality of air, how it moves so quickly, and is weightless and light. By contrast, Kapha dosha is seen as the combination of earth and water. As we can imagine then, this is heavy like mud. People with a predominant Kapha dosha are big-boned; they tend to be slower in nature, lovely, dependable plodders. They work incredibly hard. They are physically mighty, strong people and have the stamina of an ox.
Kapha Dosha speaks of thickness within the constitution, so when things slow down and become congested, like constipation, indigestion, catarrh, and phlegm. When this dosha is out of balance we see people get lethargic, procrastinate and get fat. This outcome for many, of course, is a 21st-century pandemic - Type 2 diabetes.
One of the contraindications of Clove bud essential oil is how it thins the blood and has thinning action on all aspects of the disposition. So it's beautiful when blended with eucalyptus for coughs and blocked-up noses. However, the Eugenol in Clove bud essential oil makes it a powerful weapon against underlying infections in its own right.
Let's begin with its pain-killing effects. Eugenol is especially useful for acute pain, hence its impact on toothache. Eugenol inhibits pain signaling through two channels. Through the COX-2 inflammatory pathway that NSAIDS work on and through what is known as the TRP channels. Trans Receptor Proteins not only deliver pain messages to the brain but also tell our brain about the heat in the environment. These are what activate when we eat chilis or mint.
Later, we'll see how this pain-killing aspect is not only down to Eugenol but is supported by both beta-caryophyllene and alpha-humulene.
In clinical trials, Eugenol has demonstrated antibacterial properties against many essential and dangerous strains of bacteria.
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the critical pathogens involved in cellulitis infections, or when wounds go septic to become abscesses. A Gram-positive member of the Bacillota bacteria. It does live naturally on the skin and in the upper respiratory tract. However, if left unchecked, Staph aureus poses serious disease threats to soft tissue. The respiratory tract may also lead some people to develop pneumonia.
As we know, a hospital is not only a place to be cared for and to heal, but sadly, it is also a breeding ground for germs. One particularly nasty one that affects the lungs and urinary tract are Pseudomonas Aeruginosa which can also lead to sepsis.
This gram-negative, antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a highly advanced organism that can thrive on surgical or medical instruments and catheters. Eugenol has been demonstrated to suppress the bacteria's genes to stop it from being able to multiply and spread. (Rathinam, 2017)
It is also active against another hospital-related pathogens responsible for blood infections like sepsis, meningitis, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Clove bud essential oil can be an excellent choice to use as a kitchen surface cleaning agent since it has proven activity against Ecoli.
E-coli lives naturally in our guts, but if it gets onto foods, it can cause food poisoning. E. coli infection causes approximately 265,000 illnesses in the United States and around 100 deaths annually. Eugenol was also found to be able to inhibit e-coli as well as inhibit the spread of listeria.
Feline calicivirus is an animal version of the human sickness and diarrhea pathogen norovirus. Washing fruit with Clove essential oil cleansed it of the pathogen, potentially offering a way to protect against illness transmission through foods.
We should state how wonderful cloves and essential oil are for all digestive issues.
Eugenol and Viruses
Eugenol also has both tremendous antiviral and viricidal abilities.
What's the difference? Viricidal means it stops you from catching something. An excellent way to remember is that we use viricides outside of the body as disinfectants, for example. Antiviral means it slows the proliferation of the virus, if you are unlucky enough for the virus to gain entry to your body, an antiviral will stop it from spreading and multiplying.
Remember, not all infections are viral, but common ones include colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, chickenpox, and of course, the one that recently brought the world to its knees.
Interestingly, Eugenol might be developed as a valuable therapeutic for COVID-19 because it can target specific genes that the virus uses to access our bodies.
An explanation of how the germ does this is explained in this video:
Eugenol suppresses S1, preventing the virus's entry into cells.
In a preliminary mouse trial, Eugenol inhibited the release of several different inflammatory markers. It reduced lung inflammation, decreased fever, and improved heart function. (Paidi, 2021)
Just a note of balance here. This was a mouse trial, and the Eugenol was given orally, which would not be suggested from an aromatherapeutic point of view. As yet, there is no proof that Eugenol can provide blanket protection.
An excellent 2014 Canadian trial assessed how vapors from different essential oils could inhibit the 'flu virus. Bergamot, eucalyptus oil, and two isolated compounds, citronellol and Eugenol, were most effective against influenza germs after the cells had been exposed to the vapors for 10 minutes.
Eugenol was the most effective of all of them, killing 100% of the virus in the allotted 10 minutes. (Vimalanathan, 2014) Again though, to be clear, this was in a petri dish. There still needs to be more evidence to say it can do the same within the human constitution.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes is notoriously challenging to treat since it quickly becomes antibiotic-resistant. In addition, there are two different strains. HSV1 is orally transmitted and usually manifests as cold sores and oral herpes but can sometimes also present as genital herpes. HSV2 causes genital herpes and sores around the genitals and rectum.
Eugenol is antiviral to both strains of the herpes simplex virus and is also remarkably viricidal since it prevents the enveloping of the virus in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. (Benencia, 2000) It limits infection and prevents it from spreading through the body.
Eugenol has also been found to possess antifungal activity against various fungal strains in vitro, including Candida Albicans, which causes oral and vaginal thrush, and Trichophyton Rubrum & Trichophyton Mentagrophytes that cause ringworm and athlete's foot.
If you'd like to find more notes in my article about Cinnamon Leaf essential oil, which is also very rich in Eugenol.
Clove oil has been proven to be effective against Ebola. The impact the 2014 epidemic had on the world, particularly on West Africa, is significant. In total, 28,616 cases of EVD and 11,310 deaths were reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Research in Brazil suggests that Clove essential oil can prevent the spread of Dengue Fever, the West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever, and Zika (De Oliviera, 2019).
It may also be possible to treat the initial infection by HIV-1 since Eugenol and eugenol derivatives seem to prevent the spread of infected lymphocytes around the body. (Aboubakr, 2010)
Ok, let's change track then.
Beta-Caryophyllene is a unique action in the body because it is a weak agonist of the CB2 receptor, which governs how strong our immunity is and switches up inflammation and pain.
CB2 is short from cannabinoid receptor 2. This is one of two known endogenous endocannabinoid receptors in the body. The most famous plant medicine it responds to is cannabis; however, cannabinoids are hydrophobic. Because they hate water, they are not found in essential oils since they won't pass through distillation. So finding an agent inhabiting an essential oil is quite the gift.
CB1 receptors (which also modulate pain, cognition, appetite, memory, nausea, and itching) live in cells that inhabit the spinal cord and brain. On the other hand, our CB2 receptors live mainly in the blood and lymphatic tissues and occupy the periphery (in other words, everything outside the brain and spinal cord.)
The endocannabinoid system is an endocrine system that was previously undiscovered until the end of the twentieth century. Now, we understand it to be our primary endocrine system. It effectively works as a volume switch, telling the body whether to send more or fewer chemicals into the bloodstream.
The best way to work with the CB2 receptor is by using cannabidiol, the cannabinoid referred to as CBD oil. Beta-Caryophyllene is certainly not a substitute for CBD, but it has a weaker but still impressive effect.
To repeat, the CB2 receptor modulates inflammation, immunity, and pain.
We can see how this tremendously supports Eugenol's antiviral and viricidal effects.
A Nanosecond's reflection
When you think about how efficient the pairing of constituents is, please take a moment to admire how magical it is that a plant could have designed such a perfect elixir. It's funny how the ideal constituents are "yoked together," isn't it?
Incidentally, other oils that have far more beta-caryophyllene, if you want to boost that, especially for pain-killing, are black pepper and copaiba essential oils. Remember that aside from beta-caryophyllene, we have alpha humulene, which also has anti-inflammatory talents.
Also Read: Best Carrier Oils For Essential Oils
What Else Can Beta Caryophyllene Do?
It has demonstrated antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiolytic-like, and local anesthetic effects and anti-cancer properties, including against prostate, breast, pancreatic, skin, leukemia, lymphatic, and cervical cancer. Eugenol and one of its derivatives, eugenol acetate, also have anti-cancer abilities in vitro.
In 2020, Banerjee et al. treated wounds with a nanoemulsion of clove essential oil. They found that after 20 days, new skin had formed just as quickly as they would expect if they had treated it with diclofenac gel or a neomycin cream, which are the treatments of preference currently in hospitals. Another trial showed that 95% of the healing occurred in the first 15 days.
Beasties and creepy Callies are not fans of clove essential oil, which has shown high levels of repellency and fumigant toxicity to fleas, aphids, mites, imported red fire ants, as well as American and German cockroaches (Lambert, 2020), (Toledo, 2020) (Elzayyat, 2018)
Clove oil also persuaded several mosquito species (Anopheles stephensi, An. subpictus, Ae. aegypti, C. pipiens, Ae. albopictus, Culex quinquefasciatus, and Cx. tritaeniorhynchus) not to lay their eggs (Elzayyat, 2018) (Reuss, 2020).
It also targets the egg and larvae stages of the mosquitoes Ae. japonicus, Ae. aegypti, and Cx. quinquefasciatus. Clove essential oil has demonstrated repellent action against Ae. aegypti, Ae. cinereus, and Ae. Communis in both laboratories and field settings.
How Does Clove Bud Essential Oil Make You Feel?
We have spoken of the warming nature of clove bud essential oil and how it can reassure you. In Aromatherapy for Healing The Spirit, Gabrial Mojay speaks of how good it is for people who feel isolated or alone. It's as if they identify their feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt as a lack of warmth and meaningful interaction. This makes me extremely sad about the older people who will have to turn their thermostats down this winter. This can only make them feel lonelier. Clove essential oil does not comfort, warm, or restore emotional vitality.
Remember how I said that Clove bud essential oil had a tonic effect on Kapha dosha? One of the main aspects of out-of-balance Kapha energy is that things slow down and become stuck. This pertinently speaks to a person's emotional and mental landscape too. There is a stubbornness, a stuckness in grief, and an inability to execute change in one's life. Let's say this irritates clove oil. Irritation is a theme with Clove too, and we'll look at that in safety, but this idea that something is continually grinding away in the background is a salient point. Not being able to let go of things, holding on, and retaining the status quo, however toxic that might be.
In The Blossoming Heart, Robbi Zeck muses how congested life becomes when you hold onto things and how this accumulation permeates all aspects of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realities. She recommends using Clove with the mindset to clear out clutter to create the space for new opportunities and experiences to manifest in your life.
Deborah Eidson describes how using Clove bud essential oil may not only alleviate the physical manifestations of pain but also encourage the user to reflect on its root cause. In many instances, wounds may heal, but the pain lingers. Clove helps to decide if the scripts perpetuating the emotional links to the pain may no longer serve. (Eidson, 2000)
Valerie Ann Worwood sees this irritation with stillness as a crucial part of Clove's healing; She says, "Clove has no time for contemplation; only for action. Her message is to move forward, make things happen, and achieve as much as your spirit can without harming another… (Worwood, 1999) I like that. It's very close to the nature of one of my favorite oils, Sweet Basil, only not nearly as bolshy!
There is more about clove bud essential oil in a video I made.
Clove Bud Essential Oil Safety
There are quite a lot of things to consider here.
- Eugenol is a dermal irritant, and we want to keep levels for topical use low. Maximum dilution, according to Tisserand and Young, is 0.5%. (Tisserand and Young, 2013)
- Eugenol is also irritating to the mucus membranes.(Tisserand and Young, 2013) Here, we think of the insides of the nose, the lungs, and to the insides of the genitals. I stress this so no one puts undiluted clove bud essential oil into the vagina to treat thrush. Terrible idea! Dilute it well, and even then, I think I would use it on my lower back and abdomen to let the oils work a bit more indirectly on what is already a terrifically traumatic occurrence.
- Eugenol thins the blood. Therefore if you are on anti-coagulant medication, have a platelet disorder, or have surgery planned in the next 48 hours, cease using this oil. (Tisserand and Young, 2013) Importantly, if you have been using clove bud essential oil on your bad tooth, do make sure you inform your dentist before he decides to extract it so he can monitor your bleeding.
- Eugenol can sometimes have a strange interaction with pethidine, which might also be used as a painkiller. (Tisserand and Young, 2013)
- You should also use clove essential oil with care if you take antidepressants since they can interact with the same receptors, although it is unclear how. Specifically, this relates to monoamine inhibitors and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. (Tisserand and Young, 2013)
- As far as I know, there is no specific data on clove oil in pregnancy. Indeed, do not use any essential oils during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Otherwise, only use tiny amounts for very short amounts of time. Energetically, this would not be an oil I would use if I were pregnant.
Clove Bud Essential Oil DIY Recipes
Aches and Pains Rub
Method of Use: Massage into a painful area three times a day for a week.
Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy or if you have a platelet of clotting disorder. Not ideal for help if you are taking anti-coagulant medications or are due to have planned surgery during the next 48 hours. Use with care if you are on prescribed MAOIs or SSRIs.
Method of Use:
- Add your essential oils to the alcohol in a spray bottle.
- Top up with water.
- Spray onto cleaned surfaces.
Safety: Wear gloves!
I dare anyone to challenge anything you have to say after this one!
Safety: Not designed for topical use.
We Care About You Pomander
Pomanders are a lovely traditional Christmas ornament in England. They are a blend of antimicrobial goodness and good cheer. But when we think of how Mojay speaks of the warmth and comfort that cloves can bring to lonely people, put aside an afternoon to make a couple for neighbors living alone. How lovely to fill their living room with nurturing scent.
Begin by crisscrossing a right red ribbon around the orange so it creates a cage to which you can tie a hanging ribbon. Next, add a drop of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove oils to the top of the ribbon. Just be careful to put the oils onto the ribbon just under where you'll tie the hanging ribbon to protect their fingers before they pick it up. Older people have very delicate skin. So the last thing we want to do is to irritate it.
Use a skewer to put holes into an orange, then push the cloves in a pretty pattern. If you have a thimble, it can make moving them a lot easier.
Well, when you go through that incredible list of research into clove bud essential oil and Eugenol, it's almost impossible to ignore its vital ingredient. What a glorious gift from nature. We'd love to hear how you use your Clove bud essential oil.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy