Clove, our dear old strange looking spice(see spices & herbs), contains an essential oil that has many remarkable health benefits & medicinal properties. Clove is actually the dried flower bud of the evergreen Clove plant. It is believed to be of Indonesian origin and is widely cultivated in tropical countries like India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Pakistan, Madagascar etc.
The scientific name of Clove plant is Syzgium Aromaticum and it belongs to the family of Myrtaceae. It is also by few other scientific names like;
- Caryophyllus Aromaticus
- Eugenia Aromatica
- Eugenia Caryophyllata
- Eugenia Caryophyllus.
However, the most used name in the context of essential oil is Syzgium Aromaticum.
The Clove Essential Oil is derived from steam distillation of various parts of clove plant Syzgium Aromaticum and is accordingly named. The concentration of components, mainly Eugenol, varies accordingly, given as follows.
- Clove Bud Essential Oil: Derived from flower buds or cloves – Contains 60% to 80% Eugenol.
- Clove Leaf Essential Oil: Derived from leaves of clove plant – Contains 80% to 90% Eugenol.
- Clove Stem Essential Oil: Derived from stem & twigs of clove plant – Contains 90% to 95% Eugenol.
The physical properties of Clove Essential Oil are listed below;
- Colour: Colourless to pale yellow.
- Texture: Light watery to medium viscous.
- Aroma: Rich, warm & strong spicy.
- State: Liquid at room temperature.
Eugenol is the chief component of Clove Essential Oil. The other constituents are
- Chief Components: Eugenol (70% – 90%), Acetyl Eugenol or Eugenol Acetate, Beta-Caryophyllene, Caryophyllene, Crategolic Acid, Gallotannic Acid, Methyl Salicylate, Iso-Eugenol & Vanillin
- Flavonoids (anti oxidants): Eugenin, Eugenitin, Kaempferol & Rhamnetin.
- Tri-terpenoids: Oleanolic Acid, Stigmasterol & Campesterol.
- Sesquiterpenes: Many in number
Medicinal Properties & Health Benefits:
Clove Essential Oil has been in medicinal use for thousands of years, with new uses being added up regularly. Let us have a look at them;
- Anti Viral & Anti Microbial: This property helps a lot when dealing with toothache and other tooth & gum problems. It helps cure tooth decay and infections in gums. This also prevents bad breathe. Further, using decoction of clove with basil leaves, ginger and cinnamon in treatment of cough, cold & sore throat is a very common practice.
- Anti Oxidant: Mainly due to presence of flavonoids discussed above.
- Analgesic & Pain Killer: This is mainly due to the presence of Methyl Salicylate in Clove Essential Oil. It is used to give relief in various types of muscular pain & sprains. Mixed with common salt, when it rubbed on forehead, gives relief from headache too.
- Anti Septic: Eugenol, present in Clove Essential Oil, makes it an anti septic, chiefly due to its anti microbial properties.
- Anaesthetic: Eugenol also causes numbness and gives relief in certain types of pain. Due to this, it is used to reduce pain in case of severe burns, inflammations, skin sensitivity etc.
- Anodyne: Once again, Eugenol makes it an anodyne due to its anaesthetic effects and thus it gives immediate relief in symptoms like toothache etc.
- Anti Helmintic: This means it kills or inhibits growth of worms, particular intestinal worm.
- Aphrodisiac: Clove oil also behaves as an aphrodisiac, i.e. it increases libido. Some old citations show that it was used in treatment of impotency, erectile dysfunctions & premature ejaculation in China. However, it is not yet medically proven. This is another effect of its stimulating properties. Alternatively, this property serves as an anti depressant and mood up-lifter.
- Carminative: It facilitates digestion by stimulating secretion of Hydrochloric Acid in the stomach and by improving peristaltic motion. It also expels gas and gives relief in flatulence.
- Cordial & Stimulant: The Clove Essential Oil has remarkable warming effects on body due to stimulation of circulation & nervous system.
- Disinfectant: Due to this property, it is widely used in treatment of skin infections and acne. It is also useful on cuts, bruises, wounds, insect bites etc.
- Depurative: The flavonoids present in Clove Essential Oil make it a depurative; an agent that purifies blood. It actually purifies blood by neutralizing free radicals in it.
- Sedative: Clove oil, despite its stimulating properties, has amazing sedative effects and relieves stress. A few drops of clove oil in a glass of lukewarm water is a good remedy for relieving mental fatigue, stress and bringing a good sleep. Therefore, it is used in treatment of insomnia.
Clove Essential Oil is extensively used in;
- Tooth Pastes, mouthwash and breathe fresheners.
- In culinary practices.
- In cosmetics, skin care products etc.
Eugenol and Methyl Salicylate have potential toxic effects and hence large dosages should be avoided. To be avoided in pregnancy. For external application, the recommended concentration is below 1%.
Should be stored in an air-tight dark coloured container, protected from sunlight, in a cool, dark place.
Blends with essential oils of Basil, Benzoin, Cinnamon, Coriander, Lavender and Ginger.