Cardamon Essential Oil Health Benefits

Botanical Nomenclature: Elettaria cardamomum
Extraction Method: Distillation 

Cardamon essential oil is made from the common kitchen spice cardamon. And according to legend, cardamon is the one of the oldest culinary spices known. Both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, have long histories with this herb and evidence suggests that cardamon was known in Europe by the 400 CE.

A member of the ginger family, cardamon is thought to be named for an ancient Sanskrit term that means “hot and pungent”. Today, two plants are known as cardamon—one in the genus Elettaria and one in the genus Amomum. In aromatherapy, it’s the seeds from the plant in the genus Elettaria that’s most often used to make cardamon essential oil.

Characteristics of Cardamon Oil


Cardamon oil should be nearly colorless with pale yellow hues that darken after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Your initial impression of cardamon oil should be one of a warm, spicy scent with strong hints of camphor. Later, after the oil has been exposed to air, the scent will deepen and take on a more woody scent with very faint hints of floral.

Psychological Aromatherapy


Like other essential oils made from pungent spices, cardamon is associated with strength, determination and the ability to make good decisions. Popular aromatherapy texts tell us that cardamon personalities are strong, faithful leaders.

Traditional Uses for Cardamon Oil


Cardamon is used in Eastern and Middle Eastern medicine mainly for digestive complaints but it is also prized for its believed anti-microbial properties. Aromatherapist Salvatore Battaglia also assigns the following actions to cardamon essential oil:

  • Antiseptic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Cephalic
  • Digestive
  • Diuretic
  • Expectorant
  • Stimulant
  • Tonic

 

Scientific Studies on Cardamon Oil


Like many essential oils, cardamon hasn’t been exhaustively studied for efficacy or safety in humans. But a couple of animal studies stand out as particularly promising.

Digestive Protection

Finding a way to protect delicate intestinal tissue from damage due to aspirin therapy was the focus of a 2006 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Researchers using a “crude” extract of cardamon were able to reduce lesions by nearly 100% at certain doses.

Other Digestive Benefits

About 5% of the weight of cardamon seeds is essential oil and a 1996 study published in the journal Pharmacology Research suggests that this essential oil may be responsible for cardamon’s reputation as a tummy soother.

In laboratory studies in mice, cardamon oil demonstrated antispasmodic activity in both mice and rabbits. How, or if, this will translate into benefits for humans has yet to be studied.

Safety Issues


Cardamon is a relatively rare essential oil and it hasn’t been extensively studied for safety. Salvatore Battaglia lists cardamon as non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy

Jamal, A., et al. (2006). Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats.

al-Zuhair, H., et al. (1996). Pharmacological studies of cardamom oil in animals.

Rosewood essential oil Health Benefits

Botanical Nomenclature: Aniba rosaeodora
Extraction Method: Distillation

Rosewood essential oil is one of the most controversial essential oils used in aromatherapy today. While rosewood isn’t considered an endangered species, commercial exploitation of these Amazonian trees have, in the opinion of some environmentalists, destroyed the integrity of the Amazonian river banks. Rosewood trees need to be 10 years old or older to produce an acceptable essential oils but in some areas, more than half of any given rosewood tree is left onsite to decay after harvesting and “old growth” rosewood trees are virtually non-existent.

Regardless of the particular environmental issues associated with rosewood, there’s no denying that rosewood oil is very important to the perfume and cosmetics industry. Rosewood oil is considered a good skin tonic and is a favorite ingredient in cosmetics marketed for “sensitive” or “mature” skin.

Rosewood oil is produced by distilling the wood of Aniba rosaeodora trees that are at least 10 years old. In recent years, an attempt has been made to market an oil made from the leaves but this oil has been met with less-than-enthusiastic response.

Characteristics of Rosewood Oil

Rosewood essential oil should be nearly colorless and have a definite “woody” scent. Rosewood oil rarely smells like roses but all rosewood oils should have a subtle “floral” undertone. It can be dry to the nose and perhaps even a bit “spicy”.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Rosewood is considered a “balancing” oil and is often distilled to deepen concentration during meditation and to “open the Chakras”. Some texts list rosewood as “stimulating” while others classify it as “relaxing”. Perhaps this discrepancy explains rosewood’s ability to “balance”.

Traditional Uses for Rosewood Oil

Aromatherapy expert Salvatore Battaglia assigns the following additional actions to rosewood oil:

  • Antidepressant
  • Antiseptic
  • Bactericide
  • Cephalic
  • Deodorant
  • Insecticide
  • Stimulant

Scientific Studies on Rosewood Oil

Like many essential oils, rosewood hasn’t been extensively studied scientifically. But a few studies have found rosewood offers marked anti-microbial activities.

Antifungal Activities

A 2004 study from the University of Belgrade found that rosewood’s 1.8-cineole content made it a potent anti-fungal agent when tested on 17 micromycetes.

Safety Issues

Most aromatherapy texts list rosewood oil as non-toxic and non-sensitizing but, like most essential oils, rosewood has not been extensively tested for safety. A 1995 paper from Germany discussed the case of a 53-year-old woman who experienced relapsing eczema blamed, in part, on her use of diffused rosewood oil. Her case was so severe that the complete removal of the interior surfaces of her home was necessary.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy

Simic, A., et al. (2004). The chemical composition of some Lauraceae essential oils and their antifungal activities.

Schaller, M., et al. (1995). Allergic airborne contact dermatitis from essential oils used in aromatherapy.

Anise Essential Oil Health Benefits & Reviews

Botanical Nomenclature: Illicium verum
Extraction Method: Distillation

To make anise essential oil two different botanicals from two different species may be used— Pimpinella anisum and Illicium verum. To an experienced aromatherapist, though, these two species produce very different essential oils used for very different purposes. In this article we’ll focus on the “true” anise—the oil made from I. verum.

The plant from which anise oil is produced is a small evergreen native to southeastern Asia. The oil is made by distilling the star-shaped fruit. Also called “star anise” or “Chinese anise”, this species of anise shouldn’t be confused with aniseed, which belongs to a completely different genus, or Japanese anise, a related species of Illicium.

Characteristics of Anise Oil

A good anise oil will be light to dark yellow and slightly viscous. Anise essential oil will have a distinctive “licorice” smell that’s full, warm and wet in the nose.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Anise is used most often as an aphrodisiac. Anise oil is also said to have an uplifting, enveloping effect that helps people overcome fears and inhibitions, especially those related to sexual issues.

Traditional Uses for Anise Oil

In traditional Chinese medicine anise warms yang energy and promotes the circulation of energy. Aromatherapy expert Salvatore Battaglia also assigns the following healing properties to anise:

  • Antiseptic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Expectorant
  • Galactagogue
  • Stimulant
  • Stomachic

Scientific Studies on Anise

Like many essential oils, anise hasn’t been extensively studied and most of the recommended uses found in popular aromatherapy books are based more on traditional use than science. In preparation for this article, we could find no double-blind scientific studies using anise essential oils to treat any medical condition in humans.

Safety Issues

Anise oil may have weak estrogenic effects, which is probably due to its high trans-anethole content. This leads many of the most popular aromatherapy authors to recommend avoiding anise during pregnancy. We could find no studies backing up this claim but did find a study on ansiseed, which is chemically similar to “true” anise.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Tabanca, N., et al. (2004). Estrogenic activity of isolated compounds and essential oils of Pimpinella species from Turkey, evaluated using a recombinant yeast screen.

Ajowan essential oil Reviews

Botanical Nomenclature: Trachyspermum copticum
Extraction Method: Distillation

Ajowan essential oil is made from the fruits of Trachyspermu copticum, an herb commonly used in Indian cooking and related botanically to caraway and dill. Decades ago, ajowan was an important source of thymol but as modern pharmacy developed synthetic thymol, ajowan quickly fell out of favor. Today, its ability to cause serious skin reactions has encouraged some in the aromatherapy world to call for a complete ban on the sale of this oil.

Characteristics of Ajowan Oil



Ajowan oil can range in color from yellow-orange to amber. It has a full, herbaceous scent with medicinal and spicy undertones.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Ajowan is a known dermal and mucus membrane irritant. Consequently, it is rarely mentioned in “casual” aromatherapy texts dealing with psychological effects of essential oils. Essential oil expert Salvatore Battaglia lists it among other “hazardous” essential oils and does not recommend its use in aromatherapy.

Traditional Uses for Ajowan Oil

In Ayurveda, which is the traditional healing system of India, ajowan is used mainly to aid digestion. Infusions made from ajowan are sometimes used to treat infection and various upper respiratory complaints.

Serious Medical Studies on Ajowan Oil

Only a couple of studies have been published on ajowan essential oil recently and both produced less-than-stellar results. The first looked at ajowan oil as an agent to control a toxic carcinogen called aflatoxin. Unfortunately the study found that ajowan did not perform as well as essential oil of rosemary.

The other study, done in 2004, looked at various Iranian plants and their potential action against Helicobacter pylori—the species of bacteria responsible for most stomach ulcers. Again, ajowan extracts proved less-promising than extracts made from other herbs.

Safety Issues

Like most essential oils, ajowan has not been exhaustively studied for safety, especially long-term safety. Nor has ajowan been deemed safe for women who are pregnant or nursing. What we do know about ajowan oil is that its high thymol content makes it a strong dermal irritant. This is the reason that most popular aromatherapy experts warn against using ajowan on the skin, even if heavily diluted.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Rasooli, I., et al. (2008). Antimycotoxigenic characteristics of Rosmarinus officinalis and Trachyspermum copticum L. essential oils.

Nariman, F., et al. (2004). Anti-Helicobacter pylori activities of six Iranian plants.

Aniseed Essential Oil Reviews

Botanical Nomenclature: Pimpinella anisum
Extraction Method: Distillation

Though aniseed essential oil is sometimes confused with oil made from star anise, the plant that gives us aniseed oil could hardly be more different. Aniseed is a small annual herb native to the Mediterranean coastal areas of Greece and Egypt. Its tiny reddish-brown seed-like fruits are highly scented with that familiar “licorice” scent that makes aniseed such a gift to so many industries.

Characteristics of Aniseed Essential Oil

Aniseed oil is very similar to star anise oil in both scent and chemical makeup. Both are commonly labeled just as “anise”. To assure that you’re getting authentic aniseed oil, look for Pimpinella anisum on the label. A good aniseed oil will be pale yellow and have a definite “licorice” scent.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Aniseed is considered by popular aromatherapy authors to be an excellent replenishing oil. It is believed to benefit those with weak constitutions and people who are fatigued by over-working. Aniseed oil is used in aromatherapy to reduce fears and lower sexual inhibitions. Aniseed, like star anise, is considered an excellent aphrodisiac.

Traditional Uses for Aniseed Oil

Aniseed oil has long been used to flavor a variety of food and tobacco products. It also enjoys a long history of folk use, too. Aromatherapist Salvatore Battaglia assigns the following therapeutic properties to aniseed oil:

  • Antiseptic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Expectorant
  • Galactagogue
  • Stomachic
  • Stimulant

Serious Medical Studies Of Aniseed Oil

Head Lice

A 2002 study from Israel found a preparation made of coconut oil and essential oils of aniseed and ylang ylang as effective at controlling human head lice infestations as the pharmaceutical preparation to which it was compared. No significant side effects were reported by children using the preparation.

Fungal Infections

Aniseed may have potent anti-fungal properties. A 2005 study looking at aniseed’s effect on some of the most common yeast and fungal infections found aniseed effective against many of these infections, including Candida albicans.

Type 2 Diabetes

A 2003 study looking at aniseed’s traditional use as a digestive aid found that aniseed essential oil also, in the words of the researchers, “enhanced signficantly” glucose absorption in laboratory animals.

Safety Issues

Some aromatherapy books list aniseed oil as “very toxic” and “dangerous” but it’s unclear why they make those allegations. While aniseed’s anethole content may contraindicate it for women who are pregnant or lactating, aniseed is widely used in the food industry. Aniseed is used to flavor candies, beverages and even pickles.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Mumcuoglu, K., et al. (2002). The in vivo pediculicidal efficacy of a natural remedy.

Kosalec, I., et al. (2005). Antifungal activity of fluid extract and essential oil from anise fruits (Pimpinella anisum L., Apiaceae).

Kreydiyyesh, S., et al. (2003). Aniseed oil increases glucose absorption and reduces urine output in the rat.

Wintergreen essential oil Reviews

Botanical Nomenclature: Gaultheria procumbens
Extraction Method: Distillation

Wintergreen essential oil, which is distilled from the leaves of Gaultheria procumbens, is widely used in the flavoring and toiletries industries. Today, wintergreen is used to flavor a variety of liquors and is among the most popular of all flavors for oral care products like mouthwash and toothpaste.

The manufacturing process used to make wintergreen oil produces methyl salicylate and it’s this compound that is responsible for wintergreen’s ability to ease pain and reduce minor inflammation.

Today, wintergreen is among the most controversial of all the essential oils. Wintergreen poisonings have been reported around the world and wintergreen is actually listed as a known toxin by the regulatory agencies of many countries. Some aromatherapists have even called for a worldwide ban on the sale of this once extremely popular oil.

Characteristics of Wintergreen Oil

Wintergreen essential oil should be pale yellow to pale reddish-yellow. Wintergreen has a sharp, “minty” scent that should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a wintergreen-flavored mouthwash or toothpaste. Wintergreen will feel cold to the nose and somewhat “wet”.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Because of its potential toxicity, wintergreen essential oil is rarely used these days in casual aromatherapy. Author Salvatore Battaglia lists it among his “hazardous” essential oils and does not recommend its use.

Traditional Uses for Wintergreen Oil

Various wintergreen preparations have been used throughout the centuries to reduce swelling and reduce pain. But aromatherapy expert Salvatore Battaglia feels that the potential toxicity of wintergreen outweighs its potential benefits and does not assign any therapeutic actions to it.

Serious Medical Studies on Wintergreen

Considering that wintergreen is so widely used in over-the-counter pain topical pain relievers, it is surprising that few recent studies have been published on the essential oil. In preparation for this article, we were only able to locate studies discussing wintergreen’s potential toxicity and could find no recent studies on any medicinal benefits.

Safety Issues

Wintergreen oil is 98% methyl salicylate and any volume greater than a lick or a taste is enough to poison an infant or preschooler. Just 4 ml, which is less than half a typical bottle of essential oil, is enough to fatally poison a school-aged child.

And wintergreen does not have to be ingested to be toxic. Transdermal absorption is also a very effective delivery method for the salicylate component. In fact, a 2002 paper printed in the journal Emergency Medicine discussed the case of a young man who was poisoned after using a naturopath-prescribed wintergreen cream for his psoriasis.

It’s little wonder that some in the aromatherapy community have called for a complete cessation of the use of wintergreen oil in aromatherapy and a ban on the sale of the oil to unlicensed practitioners.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Chyka, P., et al. (2007). Salicylate poisoning: an evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management.

Bell, A., et al. (2002). Acute methyl salicylate toxicity complicating herbal skin treatment for psoriasis.

Camphor essential oil Reviews

Botanical Nomenclature: Cinnamomum camphora
Extraction Method: Distillation

Camphor essential oil is usually just referred to as “camphor oil” with the “essential” left off. Perhaps this is because camphor oil is made by a multi-step process that involves processing the wood of a Japanese native called Cinnamomum camphora. The Japanese know it as Hon-Sho.

To make camphor oil, all useable wood, including the stumps and small branches, are gathered then distilled. This produces a crude oil and a crystalline substance called crude camphor. The crude camphor is then pressed and filtered to extract what is called crude camphor oil. The crude camphor oil is then further rectified then pressed and filtered until 3 separate “grades” of camphor oil are achieved.

The lightest of these is called white camphor and is the one most often used in “natural” medicine. Second are medium-to-heavy fractions known as brown or yellow camphor. Last in line is blue camphor—a heavy fraction rich in sesquiterpenes.

Characteristics of Camphor Oil

Camphor oil should be colorless or very pale yellow. It has a biting, overwhelming scent that is strongly medicinal and somewhat “minty”. It will feel very cold and wet to the nose.

Traditional Uses for Camphor

Over the years, various camphor preparations—crude and refined—have been considered highly anti-microbial and were often used to aid breathing during a cold or other respiratory illness. Camphor essential oil has also seen extensive use as a topical pain reliever. It is a popular ingredient in over-the-counter muscle liniments, topical arthritis remedies and “vapor rubs”.

Serious Medical Studies on Camphor

Insect Repellence

A number of aromatherapy oils have been studied over the years for their potential to ward of pests like ticks and mosquitoes. In addition to repelling many of the insects that damage food crops, camphor oil has shown great promise in the fight against the mosquito that carries yellow fever.

Anti-Candida Actions

Camphor has long been considered anti-microbial and recent studies supports this. A 2007 study from India found camphor among the essential oils demonstrating anti-microbial action against one of the most common human infections, Candida.

Safety Issues

If ingested, camphor can cause vomiting, apnea, seizures and even death. A 2007 paper published in Cardiovascular Toxicology discussed the case of a patient who nearly died from inflammation of the heart muscle after consuming camphor oil.

How common is camphor poisoning? In the years between 1990 and 2003, the poison centers in the U.S. logged more than 10,000 cases of camphor essential oil poisoning each year.

Camphor does not have to be ingested to be dangerous. A 2007 article in Emergency Medicine Journal discussed the case of a young boy who experienced epileptic seizures after his nanny rubbed a “natural” flatulence remedy onto his abdomen.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Yang, Y., et al. (2004). Repellency of aromatic medicinal plant extracts and a steam distillate to Aedes aegypti.

Dutta, B., et al. (2007). Anticandidial activity of some essential oils of a mega biodiversity hotspot in India.

Bhaya, M., et al. (2007). Camphor induced myocarditis: a case report.

AAPCC. (2006). Camphor Poisoning: an evidence-based practice guideline for out-of-hospital management.

Guilbert, J., et al. (2007). Anti-flatulence treatment and status epilepticus: a case of camphor intoxication.

Boldo Essential Oil Review

Botanical Nomenclature: Peumus boldus
Extraction Method: Distillation 

Boldo essential oil is distilled from the leaves of Peumus boldus, a small tree that grows wild in parts of South America. Indigenous people in the Andes Mountains have used boldo medicinally for years.

Characteristics of Boldo Oil

Boldo oil is yellow in color and, like most other distilled oils, thin. It has a strong spicy scent. George Burdock, of Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, describes the scent has “similar to melissa”.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Though various preparations of boldo have been used or centuries, today’s aromatherapists agree that essential oil of boldo should not be used in aromatherapy, due to its ascaridole content.

Traditional Uses for Boldo Oil

Though there’s little evidence that an essential oil of boldo was ever used medicinally, various cultures in its native South America used other boldo preprations (especially infusions) for infections, arthritis and even liver and gall bladder disorders.

Perhaps boldo was best-known as a treatment for gonorrhoea. It was extensively used for inflammation of the genitals and urinary tract.

Serious Medical Studies on Boldo Oil

In preparation for this article, we could find no scientific studies on the use of boldo oil for any medical condition.

Safety Issues

Boldo is not considered safe for aromatherapy—at least by most popular aromatherapy authors—mainly due to its ascaridole content. Like most other essential oils, boldo hasn’t been exhaustively studied.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Burdock, G. (2004). Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients.

Vogel, H. (1999). Studies of Genetic Variation of Essential Oil and Alkaloid Content in Boldo (Peumus boldus).

Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil Health Benefits

Botanical Nomenclature: Cedrus atlantica
Extraction Method: Distillation 

Atlas cedarwood essential oil, which is also known as Moroccan cedarwood or just atlas cedar, was once used in embalming, as an antiseptic for wounds and, according to the Bible, was even the type of cedar used to build Solomon’s temple. No wonder its very name comes to us from an ancient Arabic word that translates into “power”.

Today’s atlas cedarwood essential oil is distilled from the mature wood of the Cedrus atlantica. Some popular aromatherapy texts have vilified this oil, confusing it with oil made from C. libani, a rare and protected species.

According to aromatherapy aficionados, the best atlas cedarwood oil is made from the heartwood of trees that are between 20 and 30 years old. Today, most of this oil is actually produced from sawdust or wood chips left over from the furniture or lumber industries.

Characteristics of Atlas Cedar

Atlas cedarwood oil can range in color from deep yellow to amber. It should be noticeably more viscous than other distilled oils and will have a somewhat unpleasant top note of camphor. Underneath is a warm, woody scent that can seem somewhat sweet in the nose.

Psychological Aromatherapy

Psychological aromatherapists call atlas cedarwood “tonic”, “grounding” and “strengthening”. It is often used to convey a sense of confidence and integrity to a space. At least one popular aromatherapy writer refers to the atlas personality as confident and secure.

Traditional Uses for Atlas Cedar Oil

Atlas cedarwood was traditionally used mainly for its believed anti-microbial properties. The ancient Egyptians documented their use of cedarwood in the embalming process and as recently as the 20th century, atlas cedarwood was studied for its ability to address conditions like bronchitis.

Aromatherapist Salvatore Battaglia assigns atlas cedarwood essential oil these therapeutic properties:

  • Antiseptic
  • Antiseborrheic
  • Astringent
  • Diuretic
  • Expectorant
  • Insecticidal
  • Sedative

Serious Studies on Atlas Cedar Oil

A 2003 Japanese study looking at 12 popular essential oils listed atlas cedarwood among the essential oils that successfully inhibited the invasion of Candida albicans into mucus membranes. This could sometime make atlas cedarwood an effective part of a natural approach to oral and vaginal yeast infections.

This study seems to support the findings of another 2003 study—this one from Korea—which looked at various essential oils and their actions against Aspergillus niger, and Aspergillus flavus. Unfortunately, in this study, cedarwood showed less promise as an antifungal remedy.

Safety Issues

Like many essential oils, atlas cedarwood has not been exhaustively studied for long-term use or safety. Aromatherapists are somewhat divided on this issue with some calling cedarwod non-toxic and non-sensitizing. Others label it “contra-indicated” for pregnancy. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough scientific evidence to support either position at this time.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.

Abe, S., et al. (2003). Anti-Candida albicans activity of essential oils including Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil and its component, citral.

Shin, S. (2003). Anti-Aspergillus activities of plant essential oils and their combination effects with ketoconazole or amphotericin B.

Clove essential oil Review

Botanical Nomenclature: Syzygium aromaticum
Extraction Method: Distillation/Rectification

Clove essential oil is made by distilling either the leaves or flower buds of Szygium aromaticum, which is a tree grown mainly for the spice market. Most of the major healing modalities—Ayurveda, TCM and Western herbalism—use clove preparations for various medicinal purposes.

Legend tells us that at various times throughout history, European healers used clove buds to freshen the air and protect against the most common pathogens of the day.

Characteristics of Clove Oil


Clove oil can range from pale yellow to brown, depending upon which part of the plant was used. All clove oils should have an overpowering “spicy” bite them with strong “woody” notes. Some clove oils are somewhat sweet-smelling while others can feel quite dry to the nose.

Psychological Aromatherapy


In Chinese medicine all preparations of clove are thought to stimulate Qi so it will come as no surprise that nearly all of today’s aromatherapy authors also associate clove essential oil with warming, energizing qualities. 

Traditional Uses for Clove


Today, clove is used mainly as a spice but in centuries past various clove preparations were an important herbal medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine uses clove to aid digestion while modern European herbalism uses clove preparations to cleanse the mouth and support oral health. In fact, one of clove essential oil’s best-known uses is for dental health. Most of the popular aromatherapy books mention clove oil as a home remedy for toothache.

Salvatore Battaglia lists the following therapeutic actions in his clove oil monograph:

  • Analgesic
  • Antiseptic
  • Antisposmodic
  • Carminative & Stomachic

 

Serious Medical Studies on Clove Essential Oil

Clove has long been associated with the prevention of infections. Today many of the recent studies on clove essential oil have focused on agricultural and commercial uses but a few medicinal studies stand out:

Antifungal Actions

Clove’s eugenol content, which can approach 90%, is thought to be responsible for clove’s ability to fight various fungal infections. A 2007 Korean study published in the Journal of Microbiology found clove oil diluted to 0.2 mg/ml effective at a rate of 60% when tested against some of the most common dermatophytes.

A similar study, this one looking at clove’s effectiveness against Candida, found clove essential oil a “powerful” and “easily accessible” remedy against strains that cause most human yeast infections.

Antiviral Actions

In laboratory tests, clove oil demonstrates the ability to effectively arrest the replication of various Herpes strains. Again, it seems to be the eugenol content that is responsible for this action.

Dust Mites

One of the most interesting recent studies on clove oil looked at clove’s ability to fight one of the most common household allergens—dust mites. Exactly how (or even if) this discovery will ever be put into practical use remains to be seen but clove was among several oils shown to kill this common pest.

Safety Issues


Clove is a strong dermal irritant and may well be one of the best-documented irritants of all the common aromatherapy oils. Numerous reports of both allergy and sensitization have been published throughout the years and, today, many aromatherapy books recommend that clove essential oil never be used on the skin, even if properly diluted.

Clove is also a potential poison and it takes surprisingly little to cause serious health problems. In 1991 a 7-month-old child was nearly killed after he accidentally ingested clove essential oil. This report mirrors the experience of a slightly older toddler who experienced liver failure in 2005 after ingesting only 10 ml of the oil.

References:

Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy.
Lalko, J., et al. (2005). Investigation of the dermal sensitization potential of various essential oils in the local lymph node assay.
Lane, B., et al. (1991). Clove oil ingestion in an infant.
Janes, S., et al. (2005). Essential oil poisoning: N-acetylcysteine for eugenol-induced hepatic failure and analysis of a national database.
Park, M., 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.
Chaieb, K., et al. (2007). Antioxidant properties of the essential oil of Eugenia caryophyllata and its antifungal activity against a large number of clinical Candida species.
Tragoolpua, Y., et al. (2007). Anti-herpes simplex virus activities of Eugenia caryophyllus (Spreng.) Bullock & S. G. Harrison and essential oil, eugenol.
Saad, et al. (2006). Acaricidal activities of some essential oils and their monoterpenoidal constituents against house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Acari: Pyroglyphidae).