URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/251.html


What is it?

Clove is a plant grown in parts of Asia and South America. People use the oils, dried flower buds, leaves, and stems to make medicine.

Clove is most commonly applied directly to the gums for toothache, pain control during dental work, and other dental-related issues. But there is limited scientific research to support these and other uses.

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.

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 (early) ejaculation.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Anal tears. Early research shows that applying a clove oil cream to anal tears for 6 weeks improves healing compared to using stool softeners and applying lidocaine cream.
  • Mosquito repellent. Early research shows that applying clove oil or clove oil gel directly to the skin can repel mosquitos for up to 5 hours.
  • Pain. Early research shows that applying a gel containing ground cloves for 5 minutes before being stuck with a needle can reduce needle stick pain.
  • Toothache. Clove oil and eugenol, one of the chemicals it contains, have long been applied to the teeth and gums 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.
  • Dental plaque.
  • "Dry socket” following tooth extraction.
  • Vomiting.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Nausea.
  • Gas (flatulence).
  • Diarrhea.
  • Hernia.
  • Pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat.
  • Cough.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of clove for these uses.

How does it work?

Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol that may help to decrease pain and fight infections, but more research is needed.

Are there safety concerns?

Clove is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food. 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 directly to the skin. However, 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 disease.

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 amounts commonly found in food. 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.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be watchful with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Clove contains eugenol, which might slow blood clotting. Taking clove oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

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.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of clove depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for clove. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

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.


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Last reviewed - 08/15/2018