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  • Clove Essential Oil


    Clove oil is an essential oil. Essential oils are mixtures of natural compounds that are extracted from plants. Essential oils contain molecules that the source plant uses to defend itself against diseases, parasites and predators. Essential oils can have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and/or analgesic properties.

    Clove oil is generally used as a topical acne treatment, although it may also be used in aromatherapy applications. Essential oils tend to be best suited for the treatment of mild to moderate acne symptoms (Acne Types 1-2).

    Overall, Clove oil is rated as a Mediocre treatment for acne. Users report that, Clove oil is Somewhat Effective for improving acne symptoms and that this medication tends to have Moderate side effects.

    Ratings Breakdown

    Clove RatingsScore
    Side Effects3.35
    User Recommended25%
    P. acnes Susceptibility4.12
    Editor Rating2.50
    Table Key: Green is Good , Red is Bad

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    Clove Essential Oil

    Freshly Harvested Clove Flower Buds

    Source: The dried flowers of the Clove Tree, Syzygium aromaticum.

    Type of Treatment: Essential Oil -Naturopathic Medicine
    How it Works: Clove essential oil has potent antibacterial properties.  Clove essential oil may help improve acne symptoms by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that contribute to acne symptoms, particularly Propionibacterium acnes.


    Clove Flowers

    Cloves originate from a cluster of islands in Indonesia that were known historically as the “Spice Islands” (they are now called the Malaku Islands). Because of their desirability and rarity, cloves have been among the most prized (and expensive) spices throughout recorded human history.  Cloves are frequently referenced in historical texts from China, India and Europe, among others.

    Cloves are an integral spice in the cuisines of many cultures and are used to flavor many dishes and beverages.  Chai tea derives it’s characteristic flavor from cloves.  Cloves are also frequently used to spice meat dishes and deserts.  In addition to cooking, cloves are an important part of many aromatherapy programs.

    Clove essential oil is highly toxic to a wide range of bacteria.  It is also toxic to animals and humans, when it is ingested.  When applied topically, clove essential oil has natural anaesthetic properties.  Clove essential oil has a long history in dentistry, where it is used to numb the pain from toothaches and cavities.  Cloves and clove essential oil are essential components of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.  Clove essential oil has also been used as a sanitizer to disinfect surfaces and objects.

    A mixture of clove and tobacco is the basis for clove cigarettes (kreteks), which are popular in many countries.  Inhallation of clove smoke numbs the respiratory tract and suppresses the gag reflex.

    Composition of Clove Essential Oil

    Chemical Composition of Clove Essential Oil

    The primary component of clove essential oil is Eugenol.  Eugenol makes up 70-90% (by volume) of clove essential oil.  The second most abundant component is usually Caryophyllene, which represents 2-20% of the volume.

    Several additional molecules are present at lower concentrations.  Many of these molecules (eg. Eugenyl Acetate) are structurally similar to Eugenol.

    Clove Essential Oil in Acne Treatment

    Clove essential oil is toxic to the bacteria that most often contributes to symptoms of acne vulgaris, Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).  However, it is not clear whether topical application of clove essential oil, is sufficient to inhibit the growth of P. acnes bacteria that are growing deep within follicles.

    In laboratory tests, clove essential oil showed a similar level of antibacterial activity against P. acnes bacteria as erythromycin, which is a commonly used topical antibiotic in acne treatment.

    Clove essential oil can be irritating to the skin when applied without dilution.  It is usually diluted into a carrier oil or blended with other essential oils prior to application.  Some people have an allergic response to clove essential oil.

    Additional Information

    Clove @ Wikipedia
    Eugenol @ Wikipedia
    Clove @ Plant Profiler


    1. Young. 2011.Essential Oils Pocket Reference.
    2. Lawless. 1995. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy & Herbalism.
    3. Bremness. 1994. The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs.
    4. Saeed, et al. 2008. In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Clove Against Gram Negative Bacteria.
    5. Nzeako, et al. 2007. Antimicrobial Activities of Clove and Thyme Extracts.
    6. Bowles, et al. 2003. The A-Z of Essential Oils.
    7. Viuda-Martos, et al. 2010. Chemical Composition of the Essential Oils Obtained From Some Spices Widely Used in Mediterranean Region.
    8. Viuda-Martos, et al. 2006. Activities of Thyme, Clove and Oregano Essential Oils.
    9. Srivastava, et al. 2005. Bud and leaf essential oil composition of Syzygium aromaticum from India and Madagascar.
    10. Pinto, et al. 2009. Antifungal activity of the clove essential oil from Syzygium aromaticum on Candida, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species.
    11. Fu, et al. 2009. The Antibacterial Activity of Clove Essential Oil Against Propionibacterium acnes and Its Mechanism of Action.
    12. Park, et al. 2007. Antifungal Activities of the Essential Oils in Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. Et Perry and Leptospermum petersonii Bailey and their Constituents against Various Dermatophytes.
    13. Viyoch, et al. 2006. Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes.

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