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The Benefits of Eugenol in Clove Oil

I believe in natural products, but I realize that natural doesn't always mean safe.

The Benefits of Clove Essential Oil

The Benefits of Clove Essential Oil

Pain Relieving Clove Essential Oil

Historically, clove oil is a well-known toothache pain reliever. Clove essential oil in aromatherapy is typically used in massage oils to warm the skin and relieve joint and muscle pain. The common denominator here is pain. The reason for clove oil’s pain-relieving magic is its high eugenol content. Eugenol is the main chemical component in clove oil. It is found in several plants, but it is particularly concentrated in cloves.

What Is Clove Essential Oil?

Pale-yellow clove essential oil is extracted by steam distilling dried unopened clove flower buds. The evergreen clove tree is native to Indonesia but is also commonly found in Madagascar and Sri Lanka. The trees thrive in hot wet tropical regions.

The sun-dried clove buds consist of around 14 to 20 percent essential oil and a clove tree can yield between 75 pounds (35kg) of dried buds annually.

Please note: Clove bud oil and clove leaf oil are not the same. They are both extracted from the clove plant, but clove bud oil is extracted from the dried flower bud and is more aromatic. Clove leaf essential oil is distilled from the leaf and is not typically used in aromatherapy. Although some supplies may mix them.

Sundried Clove Buds

Sundried Clove Buds

What Is Eugenol?

Clove essential oil owes its strong spicy aroma to its high eugenol concentration. Eugenol content in cloves is as high as 80% to 90%.

It is the active ingredient in clove oil and is a natural anesthetic. Eugenol reduces pain by numbing the localized application area. It encourages production of a protein called trans receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV-1) which desensitizes nerve endings near the skin’s surface.

Benefits of Eugenol

  • Clove essential oil has anti-microbial properties. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed that clove essential oil killed several bacteria including E. coli. It will not kill all forms of bacteria. So, it is not a fail-safe anti-microbial agent.
  • In a diluted state, it is a highly effective mouthwash because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
  • Eugenol in clove essential oil is a natural anesthetic which makes it a good option for sore throats. Gargle the mouthwash for temporary pain relief.
  • Due to its added anti-inflammatory properties, eugenol is also effective in reducing swelling. This benefit and its ability to relieve pain makes clove essential oil a great addition to warming massaging oil blends.

Research Into the Benefits of Eugenol

A British study published in the US National Library of Medicine followed 270 participants who had a dry socket after their third molars were removed. The participants who used a eugenol-based paste reported less pain, inflammation and infection than the participants who were given chlorhexidine gel. Chlorhexidine is a disinfectant and antiseptic used to sterilize the skin.

Clove Essential Oil for Toothache

Clove Essential Oil for Toothache

How to Use Clove Essential Oil

Clove bud essential oil is very concentrated. Please do not apply it directly to the skin or gums.

  • In a mouthwash: clove essential oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Add 3 drops of clove bud essential oil to 16 ounces (+/-500 ml) of water. Rinse your mouth with 2 oz (60 ml) twice a day to combat bad breath and to clean the mouth. Do not swallow.
  • To temporarily relieve toothache and painful gums: add 1 drop to 4 oz (120 ml) of room temperature water. Take a mouthful of the clove and water preparation and hold it in your mouth for about 10 seconds before spitting it out.
  • In a massage oil: add 10 drops of lavandin essential oil, 3 drops of ginger essential oil, and 2 drops of clove bud essential oil to 4 teaspoons of any carrier oil (I like almond oil). Massage this blend into a sprained or strained joint or muscle. In addition to pain relief for strained muscles, use it to relieve lower back pain and to massage into cold hands and feet. The warming action of clove bud essential oil comes from its ability to increase blood circulation to the area of skin where it is applied.
  • To warm cold feet and hands: see massage oil. Another great recipe option to improve circulation is 3 drops of black pepper essential oil, 10 drops of geranium essential oil, 2 drops of clove bud essential oil and 4 drops of basil linalol essential oil in 2 tablespoons (30ml) of carrier oil. Apply a small amount to the hands and feet and massage it in for a light soothing and warming treatment.

Safety Precautions With Clove Essential Oil

Clove essential oil is generally considered safe. However, if you are allergic or sensitive to eugenol, please avoid clove essential oil.

If you use clove powder or oil on your gums and notice swelling, redness, or burning (warming is fine), you may be having an adverse reaction. Stop using it immediately. Continued use could cause stomatitis which are oral lesions.

Skin reactions could include rash, itching, or swelling to the application area however this risk is low.

Avoid using clove essential oil in the bath because the risk of skin irritation is higher.

Do not use with young children, especially children under 2 years.

Avoid using it in an inhaler because too much inhalation can cause a sore throat and shortness of breath. Clove cigarette smokers have a high incidence of lung infection and pulmonary edema.

Avoid using clove oil if you take blood thinners or if you have a blood disorder. Clove bud oil contains methyleugenol which may inhibit blood clotting.

Since clove essential oil can inhibit blood clotting, it should be avoided pre and post-surgery.

Do not allow children to gargle with any preparation that contains clove essential because they may swallow it by mistake.

Avoid using clove essential oil if you are pregnant because it can cause embryotoxicity. Also avoid it if you are breastfeeding.

If you use clove essential oil in a diffuser, keep the line of mist away from children, diffuse in a well-ventilated space and limit the diffusion to 30-minute intervals.

Make It a Daily Habit

Clove essential oil, or specifically, eugenol, has a generous list of safety precautions. However, if you can make use of its holistic benefits, it is an excellent addition to any first aid kit. For me, clove essential oil is a staple as my daily mouthwash. I gargle the mouthwash when I have a sore throat for some temporary relief. I also use it in a massage oil to soothe an achy shoulder that plagues me from time to time. I make sure it is in my essential oil inventory year-round.


  • Tisserand, Robert, and Young, Robert. 2014. Essential Oil Safety. Second Edition.
  • Wilson, Celeste. Isla Verde Spa Training Academy Certificate of Aromatherapy Course.
  • Wilson, Celeste. National Higher Certificate in Beauty Therapy. The Durban University of Technology.
  • Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. 25th Anniversary Edition.

Health Line

National Library of Medicine


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Celeste Wilson


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 27, 2021:

Celeste, you're welcome.

Celeste Wilson (author) on May 27, 2021:

Thank you Miebakagh. Good luck with your studies.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 27, 2021:

Celeste, this health article promote some health information about clove. It is one of the many herbal health herbs I am studing recently. May many found you online. I used the whole herb to flavour food. But I had not come across the clove oil. Will try it some day. Many thanks indeed.