Clove is a thin, evergreen tree that grows up to 15 metres in height. It has shiny green leaves and red flowers. Its fruits, when they ripen, are purple-pinkish. Clove belongs to the Myrtaceae family and can boast of such distinguished relatives as the tea tree and eucalyptus. The tree is native to the Molucca Islands in the Eastern Indonesia. The name clove comes to English from the French word “clou” meaning a nail. The oil derived from the clove buds goes by many Latin names: Eugenia caryophyllus, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica and Syzygum aromaticum.
#3 of 10: Clove Bud Essential Oil
Maritime History of Clove
The history of the clove in Europe begins in 1298, when it was described in a book of travels based on the stories of the famous Italian globetrotter, Marco Polo.
At first, the trade of cloves was conducted by the Arabs who had the monopoly of the maritime sea routes from Indonesia to Europe until the 16th Century.
In the 16th Century, the monopoly was seized by the Portuguese who held it for a hundred years.
The next century witnessed the transfer of the maritime monopoly again. This time the new overlords were the Dutch who held onto their newly acquired power with ruthless vigour. To crush all competition, the Dutch send out a proclamation in 1621 that all clove trees – except the ones on the island of Ambon in the Moluccas, and its vicinity – were to be destroyed.
This act of ecological vandalism did help the Dutch to hold on to their monopoly for a while but it did nothing to progress the biodiversity of this important tree.
Industrial and Household Use
These days, of course, there are no trade route monopolies on the high seas, and the clove trees are cultivated commercially in such diverse places as the Madagascar, The Philippines, the West Indies, the above mentioned Molucca Island as well as Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar is the world’s biggest exporter of clove buds today.
The liberation of transport routes has not meant the diminishing in importance of the clove plant. On the contrary, the clove is now more important for households and industry than it has ever been.
The main demands for clove nowadays is in the kitchen where chefs and home cooks use it to spice meat and vegetable dishes alike.
Industrially, clove is used as fragrance in food, alcohol and soft drink production. Perhaps surprisingly, clove is also used in the making of such non-edibles as printing ink, glue and varnish.
Plague Repellent and Christmas Present
In the Renaissance, cloves were used to ward off epidemics such as the plague. This historical use had its merits as clove is one of the strongest antiseptics in nature. To keep the plague and other contagious diseases away, we recommend vapourising Clove Bud essential oil into the room where you are staying. To make the smell sweeter, you may want to mix the clove bud oil with orange essential oil.
The combination of oranges and cloves has also been used in the American Christmas tradition involving pomanders. A pomander is an unpeeled orange which has had clove buds stuck all over it. This hedgehog fruit is then allowed to dry after which it is given to friends and relatives as a Christmas present. The smell this creation emits is said to be pleasantly sweet and to freshen up the house.
Constitution of Clove Bud Essential Oil
Clove oil can be extracted from the leaves, the stalk or the flowers of the clove tree. The essential oil used for aromatherapy purposes should only come from the flower buds. The oil extracted from any other part of the tree contains too much of the chemical eugenol, a potent skin irritant.
Clove Bud essential oil consists of eugenol (80-85%), eugenyl acetate (8-12%) and caryophyllene (6-10%). The amount of eugenol may seem high given the fact that it has a tendency to irritate the skin. It is however, significantly less than in the oils extracted from the leaves and the stalk of the plant. In addition, eugenyl acetate and caryophyllene act to reduce the potency of eugenol, rendering it suitable for use on skin.
That being said, the Clove Bud essential oil used on skin should always be diluted in a carrier oil, lotion or alcohol to about 1%. Some people may still have an adverse reaction to Clove Bud oil. If you are one of these people we recommend that you do not use Clove Bud essential oil on your skin.
Nausea and Toothache
While topical application is the most common way to use Clove Bud oil, there are other applications. For nausea, you may add Clove Bud essential oil (or just cloves) in your tea. For freshening the room and to kill airborne bacteria, use Clove Bud essential oil with orange essential oil mixed with water in a diffuser.
Clove Bud essential oil is an analgesic, which means that it can numb pain. For this purpose, it has been used for toothache for many ages. Drop undiluted Clove Bud essential oil onto a cotton bud and apply directly on the infected tooth or on the surface of the cavity. The pain should stay away for several hours.
Skin Care and Digestive System
In skin care – for those that are not allergic to it – Clove Bud essential oil can be used to treat scabies (a skin disease caused by the itch mite), burns and athlete’s foot, among other things. Dilute the raw oil with a lotion or in an alcohol solution and apply to the affected area of the skin.
Clove Bud essential oil is famous for helping with digestive problems. On the one hand, the oil is carminative; it reduces flatulence. On the other hand, it is antispasmodic and helps to regulate movements of the bowel. It stimulates and aids digestion and increases the appetite.
As with many essential oils, Clove Bud oil helps to treat an array of ailments. In the past, Clove Bud oil has been used to alleviate the pains of women in labour and to prepare the uterus for childbirth. It can still be used in massage to help with arthritis, rheumatism and sprains. It also helps with asthma and bronchitis when inhaled or massaged onto the skin.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, Clove Bud oil is used for diarrhoea, bad breath, hernia and bronchitis. It “tonifies the Qi”, thus increasing the available energy.
The Clove Bud personality profile is dynamic, energetic and self-confident.