What is it?
Clove is an herb. People use the oils, dried flower buds, leaves, and stems to make medicine.
Clove is used for upset stomach and as an expectorant. Expectorants make it easier to cough up phlegm. Clove oil is used for diarrhea, hernia, and bad breath. Clove and clove oil are used for intestinal gas, nausea, and vomiting.
Clove is applied directly to the gums (used topically) for toothache, for pain control during dental work, and for a complication of tooth extraction called “dry socket.” It is also applied to the skin as a counterirritant for pain and for mouth and throat inflammation. In combination with other ingredients, clove is also applied to the skin as part of a multi-ingredient product used to keep men from reaching orgasm too early (premature ejaculation).
In foods and beverages, clove is used as a flavoring.
In manufacturing, clove is used in toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and cigarettes. Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, generally contain 60% to 80% tobacco and 20% to 40% ground clove. Eugenol, one of the chemicals in clove, acts like menthol to reduce the harshness of tobacco smoke.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for CLOVE are as follows:
Possibly effective for...
- Premature ejaculation. Research shows that applying a cream containing clove flower plus Panax ginseng root, Angelica root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom (SS Cream) to the skin of the penis improves premature ejaculation.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Anal fissures. Early research suggests that applying a clove oil cream to anal fissures for 6 weeks improves healing compared to using stool softeners and applying lignocaine cream.
- Dental plaque. Early 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 amount of bacteria in the mouth.
- Mosquito repellent. Early research suggests that applying clove oil or clove oil gel to the skin can repel mosquitos for up to 5 hours.
- Pain. Early research suggests that applying a gel containing ground cloves for 5 minutes before being stuck with a needle can reduce needle stick pain similarly to benzocaine.
- Toothache. Clove oil and eugenol, one of the chemicals it contains, have long been used topically for toothache, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reclassified eugenol, downgrading its effectiveness rating. The FDA now believes there is not enough evidence to rate eugenol as effective for toothache pain.
- "Dry socket” following tooth extraction.
- Upset stomach.
- Gas (flatulence).
- Pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of clove for these uses.
Clove oil contains a chemical that may decrease pain.
Clove seems LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in food amounts. Not enough is known about the safety of taking clove by mouth in larger medicinal amounts.
Clove oil or cream containing clove flower is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. However, frequent and repeated application of clove oil in the mouth or on the gums can sometimes cause damage to the gums, tooth pulp, skin, and mucous membranes.
Inhaling smoke from clove cigarettes or injecting clove oil into the veins is LIKELY UNSAFE and can cause side effects such as breathing problems and lung infections.
Dried clove can also cause mouth sensitivity and irritation, as well as damage to dental tissues.
Special precautions & warnings:
Children: In children, clove oil is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth. It can cause severe side effects such as seizures, liver damage, and fluid imbalances.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Clove is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking clove in medicinal doses if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorders: Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol that seems to slow blood clotting. There is a concern that taking clove oil might cause bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Surgery: Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol that seems to slow blood clotting. There is a concern that it might cause bleeding during or after surgery. Stop using clove at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be watchful with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Clove might slow blood clotting. Taking clove oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Clove contains eugenol. Eugenol is the part of clove that might slow blood clotting. Eugenol is very fragrant and gives allspice and clove their distinctive smell.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Clove might slow blood clotting. Using it along with other herbs or supplements that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Some of these herbs include angelica, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, red clover, turmeric, willow, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
APPLIED TO THE SKIN
- In men, to keep from reaching orgasm too early (premature ejaculation): 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) applied to the glans penis one hour before intercourse and washed off immediately before intercourse.
Bourgeon Floral de Clou de Girofle, Bouton Floral de Clou de Girofle, Caryophylli Flos, Caryophyllum, Caryophyllus aromaticus, Clavo de Olor, Clous de Girolfe, Clove Flower, Clove Flowerbud, Clove Leaf, Clove Oil, Clove Stem, Cloves, Cloves Bud, Ding Xiang, Eugenia aromatica, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus, Feuille de Clou de Girofle, Fleur de Clou de Girofle, Flores Caryophylli, Flores Caryophyllum, Gewurznelken Nagelein, Girofle, Giroflier, Huile de Clou de Girofle, Kreteks, Lavang, Lavanga, Oil of Clove, Syzygium aromaticum, Tige de Clou de Girofle.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Clove page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/251.html.
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Last reviewed - 11/05/2014
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