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Clove oil

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Clove oil

Oil of cloves, also known as clove oil, is an essential oil from the clove plant, Syzygium aromaticum. It has the CAS number 8000-34-8.

It is a natural analgaesic and antiseptic used primarily in dentistry for its main ingredient eugenol. It can also be purchased in pharmacies over the counter, as a home remedy for dental pain relief, mainly toothache. It is also often found in the aromatherapy section of health food stores and used in the flavoring of some medicines. The main oil-producing countries are Madagascar and Indonesia.[1]

Clove oil is widely used in microscopical preparation, since it is miscible with Canada balsam and has a similar refractive index to glass (1.53).

Oil of cloves (usually listed as clove oil) is also used as an ingredient in cat deterrent sprays coupled with garlic oil and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other ingredients.


There are three types of clove oil:[1]

  • Bud oil is derived form the flower-buds of S. aromaticum. It consists of 60–90% eugenol, eugenyl acetate, caryophyllene and other minor constituents.
  • Leaf oil is derived from the leaves of S. aromaticum. It consists of 82–88% eugenol with little or no eugenyl acetate, and minor constituents.
  • Stem oil is derived from the twigs of S. aromaticum. It consists of 90–95% eugenol, with other minor constituents.


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):[2]

Clove oil and eugenol, one of the chemicals it contains, have long been used topically for toothache, but the FDA has reclassified eugenol, downgrading its effectiveness rating. The FDA now believes there isn’t enough evidence to rate eugenol as effective for toothache pain.

In a 2006 study conducted by Kuwait University, researchers concluded that a clove preparation and benzocaine gel were equally efficacious when administered as a topical anesthetic for intraoral injections.[3][4][5]

In Australia, after major flooding throughout Queensland, clove oil was used in a mixture of water to use as a spray to kill mold.

Side effects

Taking in large amounts of cloves or clove oil may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, burns in the mouth and throat, sore throat, seizures, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, sleepiness, intestinal bleeding, and liver or kidney failure.[5] More serious effects have been reported in young children, even with small doses.[5]

Severe reactions may occur in people with allergy to cloves (about 1.5% of the population).[5]


In Germany, Commission E permits the sale and administration of clove oil as a medicinal herb.[5][6]


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