What are its benefits?

Clove is familiar as an aromatic spice used in cuisines around the world. It also has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a topical oral analgesic, among other uses. With the goal of demonstrating scientific evidence of clove’s health benefits, many studies have been done.


  • Researchers have determined that essential oil of clove has a number of bioactive ingredients. The phytoconstituents of clove include monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, phenolics, and hydrocarbon compounds, and the phytochemicals in the essential oil are eugenol (at 70-85%), eugenyl acetate (15%), and beta-caryophyllene (5-12%). Derivatives have been shown to have biological benefits such as antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic capacities.
    • Clove essential oil, used as an antiseptic in oral infections, was shown to inhibit bacteria (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) as well as yeast, in a 2012 study.
    • A 2019 study found that certain compounds alter the gut microbiota by influencing viruses. Researchers identified compounds that trigger prophages – dormant viruses called bacteriophages – to return to their active form and attack bacteria. The study identified that clove was one of the stronger components tested in terms of the level of phages produced, which in turn inhibited the growth of bacteria.


  • In one study of six phytonutrients (including eugenol), all were shown to affect the expression of immune genes in the colon, but only eugenol stimulated production of the inner mucus layer, a mucosal barrier to microbes. The mechanism was thought likely to involve stimulation of microbes because analysis of the gut microbiota composition showed eugenol treatment led to an increase in abundance of specific families of beneficial bacteria (Clostridiales order). Additionally, eugenol treatment interfered with colonization by the pathogenic bacteria Citrobacter. This study suggested that eugenol acts to increase the thickness of the inner mucus layer, which protects against pathogens and disease.
    • Since we commonly ingest ingredients that disrupt the intestinal mucus lining (such as emulsifying agents, chlorinated drinking water, food additives such as maltodextrin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and since a compromised mucus barrier is a component of inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders (like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and small intestinal bacterial and fungal overgrowth), adding clove to the diet to strengthen the mucus barrier can be beneficial for health.

What is it?

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are the flower buds of the evergreen clove tree, which grows in Indonesia and is cultivated in many parts of the world. In addition to the phytoconstituents noted in the first section, cloves also contain fiber and nutrients, including manganese and vitamin K.