Are There Health Benefits to Using Clove Essential Oil?

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on November 14, 2022

Essential oils have become immensely popular over the past decade. Clove essential oil is derived from the flower buds of the Eugenia caryophyllata tree, a member of the myrtle family. While originally native to just a few islands in Indonesia, cloves are now cultivated in several places around the world.

Clove essential oil has long been a popular remedy for tooth pain. Reports of it being used for this purpose date back more than 300 years. In China, it has been used for multiple purposes for more than 2,000 years, including as an antiparasitic agent.

Clove essential oil has become synonymous with health and wellness for some of its fans. However, there are serious health risks associated with the substance. Research can help you find the boundary between healthful and harmful.

Nutrition Information

There isn’t readily available information on the nutritional make-up of clove essential oil. This is because clove essential oil isn’t particularly safe to ingest. The substance eugenol, which is a major component of clove essential oil, can be toxic in high concentrations. If you want to flavor your food with cloves, it's advisable to use the dry spice.

A single teaspoon of ground cloves contains approximately:

  • Calories: 6
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1.3 grams
  • Fiber: 0.7 grams

In terms of vitamins and minerals, cloves are high in:

Potential Health Benefits of Clove Essential Oil

The best internal benefit of clove essential oil has been apparent for many generations now — its fabled effectiveness for easing toothaches.

Treating Dental Pain

The use of clove oil on a toothache was first documented in 1649 in France. It continues to be a popular solution today, thanks to the powerful molecule, eugenol. Eugenol is a natural anesthetic.

While clove essential oil is good for treating pain, there is insufficient evidence that it also effectively kills the bacteria causing the problem.

Treating Dental Erosion

Some acidic foods and drinks may decalcify (break down) tooth enamel. Eugenol in clove oil, when used as a topical treatment, may reverse or minimize the effects of dental erosion, one study found.

However, more research is needed to fully explore the benefits of clove oil as a treatment or preventive ointment for tooth enamel erosion.

Potential Risks of Clove Essential Oil

As mentioned, there are some serious health risks to ingesting clove essential oil. In high enough doses, it is toxic to humans.

Toxic Effects on the Liver

Case studies have been reported involving the ingestion of toxic amounts of clove oil (10-30 ml, or roughly 2-6 teaspoons). Symptoms include agitation, declining consciousness, and coma.

Symptoms emerged within hours of ingesting the essential oil. Signs of liver injury, including jaundice, arose between 12 and 24 hours after ingestion. Those most likely to experience liver injury are infants and young children.

Allergic Reaction

Even when not ingested, eugenol has been known to cause allergic reactions during dental procedures. Dentists have used eugenol mixed with different materials to create impressions and fillings for more than a century.

In that time, eugenol has been observed to cause mild to severe allergy symptoms in some patients. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to dental eugenol have been reported to include irritation at the application site and raised welts across the body.

Show Sources


Archives of Disease in Childhood: “Near Fatal Ingestion of Oil of Cloves.”

BMD Case Reports: “An Unexpected Positive Hypersensitive Reaction to Eugenol.”

International Journal of Dentistry: “In Vitro Inhibitory Effect of Clove Essential Oil and Its Two Active Principles on Tooth Decalcification by Apple Juice.”

International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences: “Eugenia caryophyllata Thunberg (Family Myrtaceae): A Review.”

LiverTox: "Eugenol (Clove Oil)."

Molecules: “Eugenol – From the Remote Maluku Islands to the International Market Place: A Review of a Remarkable and Versatile Molecule.”

The Open Dentistry Journal: “Iatrogenic Damage to the Periodontium by Chemicals and Dental Materials.”

The World’s Healthiest Foods: “Cloves.”

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