Clove Essential Oil

The clove tree is native to Indonesia but now grows in several countries. The tree is evergreen and of small to medium size. It belongs to the family Myrtaceae. Cloves, as we are familiar with them, are the flower buds of the tree, not yet open, which have been dried in wood smoke. Cloves have been a common flavoring ingredient in the cookery of several countries for many years and the deodorizing, antiseptic and anaesthetic properties of the essential oil have been appreciated by different cultures, in particular the Chinese, for centuries.

Essential Oil

Oil of cloves is obtained by the process of water distillation from the buds of the tree. Essential oils are also obtained from the twigs and leaves of the tree, but these are more toxic than the bud oil and are to be avoided.

The powerful anaesthetic properties of clove oil ensure that it is a staple in the dentist’s surgery. Dressings containing clove oil are very effective in cleansing and soothing holes in the teeth and aching empty tooth sockets. Some toothpastes also contain oil of cloves. For the treatment of toothache at home, put a drop of clove oil in a tablespoonful of warm water, soak some cotton wool in this, screw up a tiny ball of the cotton wool and apply this to the affected tooth; relief will be instantaneous, even if the taste is distinctly ‘nippy’. Do not swallow. A safer alternative is to use tincture of cloves, which contains clove oil but is less concentrated and is available from most good pharmacies.

Clove oil can also be used by aromatherapists in massage for the treatment of certain fungal skin conditions and catarrh and bronchitis but is not advised for home use.


Clove oil has a relatively high level of toxicity so it is recommended that you restrict its use at home to emergency dental analgesia. Warning: Clove oil is recommended to be used only by trained therapists.

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