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Also Known As:
  Bourgeon Floral de Clou de Girofle, Bouton Floral de Clou de Girofle, Caryophylli Flos, Clavo de Olor, Clous de Girolfe, Clove Oil, Cloves, Cloves Bud, Ding Xiang, Feuille de Clou de Girofle, Fleur de Clou de Girofle, Flores Caryophylli, Gewurznelken Nagelein, Girofle, Giroflier, Huile de Clou de Girofle, Kreteks, Lavang, Lavanga, Oil of Clove, Tige de Clou de Girofle.
Scientific Name:
  Syzygium aromaticum, synonyms Caryophyllus aromaticus, Eugenia aromatica, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus.
Family: Myrtaceae.
People Use This For:
  Orally, clove is used for dyspepsia and as an expectorant. Clove oil is used orally for diarrhea, hernia, and halitosis. Clove and clove oil are used orally for flatulence, nausea, and vomiting.
Topically, clove is used for toothache, postextraction alveolitis (dry socket), as a counterirritant for pain, as a dental anesthetic, and for mouth and throat inflammation. In combination with other ingredients, clove is also used topically as part of a multi-ingredient preparation for treating premature ejaculation.
In foods and beverages, clove is used as a flavoring.
In manufacturing, clove is used in toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes.
  LIKELY SAFE ...when clove flower is used topically, short-term. A multi-ingredient preparation (SS Cream) containing clove flower has been safely used for premature ejaculation in a clinical trial where the cream was applied and left on the glans penis for one hour (2537)...when clove oil is applied topically (272).
POSSIBLY SAFE ...when clover flower is used topically, short-term. A multi-ingredient preparation (SS Cream) containing clove flower has been safely used for premature ejaculation in a clinical trial where the cream was applied and left on the glans penis for one hour (2537).
LIKELY UNSAFE ...when clove smoke is inhaled. Smoking clove cigarettes can cause respiratory injury (17, 43599). ...when clove oil is injected intravenously. This can cause pulmonary edema, hypoxemia, and acute dyspnea (16384).
There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of using clove orally in medicinal amounts.
CHILDREN: LIKELY UNSAFE ...when clove oil is taken orally. Ingesting 5-15 mL of undiluted clove oil can has been linked to reports of coagulopathy, liver damage, and other serious side effects in infants and children (6, 17, 43385, 43395, 43419, 43457, 43652).
PREGNANCY AND LACTATION: LIKELY SAFE ...when used orally in amounts found in foods (4912). There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of using clove in medicinal amounts during pregnancy and lactation; avoid using.
Premature ejaculation. In one controlled clinical trial, a multi-ingredient cream preparation containing clove flower plus Panax ginseng root, Angelica root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom (SS Cream) was applied to the glans penis one hour prior to intercourse and washed off immediately before intercourse. Men suffering from premature ejaculation who were treated with the cream had significantly improved ejaculatory latency compared to placebo (2537).
Anal fissures. Preliminary clinical research suggests that topical application of a clove oil 1% cream for 6 weeks can heal chronic anal fissures in 60% of patients by the 3-month follow-up visit; this is significantly more than the 12% of patients healed after using stool softeners and a lignocaine 5% cream for the same duration (43487).
Dental plaque. Preliminary clinical research suggests that using a specific toothpaste (Sudantha, Link Natural Products Ltd.) containing a combination of clove, Acacia chundra Willd., malabar nut, bullet wood tree, black pepper, Indian beech, gall oak, Terminalia, and ginger twice daily for 12 weeks can reduce dental plaque, bleeding, and bacteria counts in the mouth compared to placebo (43570).
Mosquito repellent. Preliminary clinical research suggests that topical application of undiluted clove oil can repel 100% of mosquitoes for up to 4 hours (43427). Other preliminary research suggest that topical application of gel containing clove oil 20% can repel 86% to 97% of mosquitoes for 5 hours (43411).
Pain. Preliminary clinical research suggests that topical application of a gel containing ground cloves 4 grams for 5 minutes prior to a needle insertion can reduce needle stick pain compared to placebo. The effect of the clove gel on pain seems to be comparable to benzocaine 20% gel (43448).
Toothache. Clove oil and its constituent eugenol have long been used topically for toothache. However, the FDA reclassified eugenol from Category I, meaning that it was safe and effective as it was labeled, to category III, meaning there is insufficient data to support efficacy (272).
More evidence is needed to rate clove for these uses.
Mechanism of Action:
  The applicable parts of clove are the oils, flowers, leaves, and stems. Clove oil contains up to 95% eugenol (11). Clove bud oil contains 60% to 90% eugenol, clove leaf oil contains 82% to 88% eugenol, and clove stem oil contains 90% to 95% eugenol (11).
Eugenol contributes to the mild anesthetic and analgesic properties of clove (12892). Applied topically, eugenol depresses sensory receptors involved in pain perception by inhibiting prostaglandin biosynthesis (3, 512). When applied to isolated nerve preparations, it produces dose-dependent neurotoxicity (16384). Eugenol also inhibits platelet aggregation and thromboxane synthesis (12892, 16384). In rat liver mitochondria, eugenol uncouples oxidative phosphorylation (16384). In animals, it can cause pulmonary edema and hemorrhage when given by the intratracheal or intra-arterial routes (16384).
Some evidence suggests the sesquiterpene constituents might have anticancer activity (838). Other evidence suggests whole cloves might have chemoprotective activity against liver and bone marrow toxicity (6).
Clove oil has antihistaminic and antispasmodic properties, most likely due to eugenyl acetate (6).
Clove oil inhibits gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It also has fungistatic action, and anthelmintic and larvicidal properties.
Preliminary research also suggests that clove extracts mimic the activity of insulin (12894).
The multi-ingredient preparation containing clove flower is thought to work in premature ejaculation by increasing the penile vibratory threshold and reducing the amplitude of penile somatosensory evoked potentials (2537).
Adverse Reactions:
  Orally, clove oil has been linked to lactic acidosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, hepatic dysfunction, and irritation to mucosal tissues when ingested by children (4, 6, 17, 512). There is one report of disseminated intravascular coagulation and liver failure following clove oil ingestion by a two-year-old (6). There is one report of depression and electrolyte imbalance following accidental ingestion by a seven-month-old (6).
Topically, clove can cause tissue irritation. Some people can experience allergic dermatitis from clove (12635). Repeated oral application can cause gingival damage and skin and mucous membrane irritation (4, 272, 512). There is one report of permanent local facial anesthesia and absence of sweating after clove spilled on an individual's face (6). When the multi-ingredient cream preparation containing clove flower (SS Cream) has been applied topically to the glans penis, sporadic erectile dysfunction, excessively delayed ejaculation, mild pain, and local irritation and burning has occurred (2537).
Intravenously, clove oil can cause hypoxemia, acute dyspnea, and pulmonary edema, with interstitial and alveolar infiltrates (16384).
By inhalation, clove cigarettes can cause serious acute respiratory distress and pulmonary edema, leading to hospitalization (12892, 16384). Smoking clove cigarettes increases heart rate, systolic blood pressure, plasma levels of nicotine, and exhaled carbon monoxide. Clove cigarettes also contain significant amounts of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide that might cause long-term health effects similar to tobacco smoking (12892).
Interactions with Herbs & Supplements:
  ANTICOAGULANT/ANTIPLATELET HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS: Concomitant use of herbs that have constituents that might affect platelet aggregation could theoretically increase the risk of bleeding in some people (12889, 43558, 43650, 43654). These herbs include angelica, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, red clover, turmeric, willow, and others.
Interactions with Drugs:


Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Severity = Moderate • Occurrence = Unlikely • Level of Evidence = D
Eugenol, a constituent of clove, as well as clove oil, is reported to have antiplatelet activity in vitro (12889, 43558, 43650, 43654). This interaction has not been reported in humans. However, theoretically clove oil or eugenol may increase the risk of bleeding if used with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. Antiplatelet agents include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dipyridamole (Persantine), ticlopidine (Ticlid), and others. Anticoagulant agents include heparin and warfarin (Coumadin).
Interactions with Foods:
  None known.
Interactions with Lab Tests:
  None known.
Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:
  BLEEDING DISORDERS: Clove oil has antiplatelet effects (17, 12889, 43558, 43650, 43654). Theoretically, taking clove oil might exacerbate bleeding in patients with bleeding disorders.
SURGERY: Clove has antiplatelet effects (12889, 43654, 43558, 43650). Clove might cause excessive bleeding if used perioperatively. Tell patients to discontinue clove at least 2 weeks before elective surgical procedures.
  ORAL: No typical dosage. However, clove products have been used as a fluid extract, 5-30 drops, an oil extract, 1-5 drops (6002).
TOPICAL: As mouthwash, products equivalent to 1% to 5% clove oil have been used (8). A 15% clove tincture can be effective in treating athletes foot (4).
Editor's Comments:
  Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, generally contain 60% to 80% tobacco and 20% to 40% ground clove. The clove constituent eugenol, like menthol, reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke and can facilitate learning of smoking techniques (12892).
This monograph was last reviewed on 03/11/2013 and last updated on 11/05/2014. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year. If you have comments or suggestions on something that should be reviewed or included, please tell the editors. For details about our evidence-based approach, see our Editorial Principles and Process.
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