Clove Essential Oil
Palm fronds rustle in the wind as a traditional lambo boat cruises past on crystal-clear water. Picturing this tropical paradise of the Molucca Islands, you can almost feel the warm, balmy weather and smell the fragrant orchids of the surrounding rainforest. A treasure is hidden deeper in the Ternate Island forest, in the foothills of the volcanic Mount Gamalama. There, among the vegetation, the treasure remains tucked within the green leaves and bright red flower buds of the clove tree. The flower buds are harvested and dried to create one of the most valuable spice trades in the world. To create the aromatic clove essential oil, the tree’s leaves are water distilled or the clove bud is steam distilled.
These Molucca Islands are the birthplaces of cloves and just one of the chain of islands fittingly called the Spice Islands. In honor of the abundance of nature and the gift of life, the local custom here is to plant a new clove tree every time a baby is born to an island family.
Today, of course, many more countries supply the voracious clove trade. Zanzibar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and India are just a few of the locations your clove oil may originate from. Clove fields are so embedded in the Zanzibar and Tanzanian culture that they even have a local saying:
“The Clove tree will not grow except within sight of the mountains and within smell of the sea.”
The beauty of clove is revealed when you smell, taste or use this spicy little nugget. Its warming, spicy aroma is thanks to eugenol, a phenylpropene that is also present in cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf and basil. In addition to its fragrant contribution to the clove oil, eugenol is a useful antiseptic and anesthetic.
Early Ayurvedic healers used clove to improve digestion, metabolism and circulation and to freshen breath. It boosts Pitta and eases Vata and Kapha.
- Improved Circulation. Clove oil is a popular natural method for stimulating blood flow.
- Reduced Inflammation. Clove oil contains eugenol, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. Its circulatory benefits and anti-inflammatory properties promote the relief of muscle aches and pains. It is used in popular muscle and joint pain remedies such as Tiger Balm and can be added to natural home muscle relief oils.
- Oral Health. Traditional healers have used clove oil for toothaches and oral inflammation for nearly 2,000 years. It can be applied to the gum tissue around a painful tooth to relieve pain and it can also soothe a dry socket. Some studies suggest that clove oil can also remineralize teeth and inhibit decalcification, helping to preserve the tooth’s vital enamel. The oil is also an effective anti-fungal that can prevent fungal infections of the mouth such as thrush.
- Antioxidant. Antioxidants combat the cell-damaging free radicals that come with exposure to a number of environmental toxins as well as our own bodies. Clove oil is extremely high in total antioxidant capacity. In fact, it has the second highest value of antioxidant capacity of all foods and oils.
Emotional and Spiritual Uses
- Confidence. The arousing and fortifying scent of clove oil helps to restore your sense of self and esteem. It helps you to set healthy boundaries, and learn to value your own needs as much as you value others’ needs.
- Root Chakra and Kundalini. The confidence and stability that clove oil instills in you promote balance in your root chakra and helps to awaken Kundalini. Adding clove oil to your aromatherapy diffuser or burner before meditating or practicing Kundalini yoga can make your chakra balancing and Kundalini awakening more fruitful.
Clove oil is unsafe for ingestion by children. The oil’s eugenol slows blood clotting, so people with blood clotting and bleeding disorders should not ingest clove oil. Clove oil can be irritating to skin, so always dilute it in a carrier oil before applying topically. It may also irritate some mucous membranes, so use sparingly for toothaches and mouth infections. Pregnant and nursing women can use clove oil in moderate amounts once they’ve cleared the use with their medical practitioners.
- Botanical Name: Eugenia caryophyllata
- Common Method of Extraction: Steam distillation
- Plant Part Typically Used: Buds, leaves, stems
- Color: Yellow to brown
- Consistency: Slightly oily
- Perfumery Note: Middle
- Strength of Initial Aroma: Strong
- Aromatic Description: Warm, spicy and woody