Clove essential oil, the anti-bacterial biofilm

Clove essential oil, the anti-bacterial biofilm

Cultivated for a long time on the Moluccas Islands, the clove tree is part of Ayurvedic medicine (1500 BC). Asians know that cloves are “ ôn ty vi ”, that is to say that they calm stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea . Historically, this world-famous spice has been used in particular to treat dental caries, oral infections and to fill hollow teeth. The essential oil is used today in pharmacy, in the food industry as well as in perfumery.

A little history

The first mention of presence in Europe dates from the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine I gave it to Saint Sylvester, then Bishop of Rome.

Cloves have long been traded (ports of Venice and Genoa with the Moluccas Islands), which the Portuguese invaders have also come to interrupt. The Portuguese then have a monopoly on the market for this spice. The Dutch, in turn, around 1605, invaded the Moluccas Islands and thus drove the Portuguese out. To obtain this commercial monopoly , the Dutch also destroyed a number of clove plantations. Thus they concentrate all the cultures on the islands of Amboine and Ternate.

It was through small cuttings, taken in Mauritius that the French, around 1769, introduced crops first in French Guyana (1793), then in Zanzibar.

Valnet (20th century) reports that the essential oil was used for disinfecting the hands of surgeons, midwives and nurses, and for cleaning wounds and the umbilical cord as also reported by Leclerc (20th century).

What are the pharmacological properties of the essential oil of clove flower buds ?

Antimicrobial properties:

Antiviral by inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter pylori , the essential oil of clove is antibacterial oral pathogen ( prevotella intermedia , in particular), dental antiseptic and dental analgesic (by inhibition of nerve conduction).

The essential oil is also a very powerful antibacterial oil with a broad spectrum of action on Gram positive bacteria: ( Staphylococcus aureus , Listeria monocytogenes) , and Gram negative: ( Pseudomonas aeruginosa ), often responsible for nosocomial diseases, or even of Escherichia coli by inhibition of the biofilm of certain germs.

Anti-bacterial biofilm , the essential oils of Chinese cinnamon , clove, tea tree , Peruvian balsam and red thyme are more effective in eradicating Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms than certain antibiotics, which in effect constitutes a enormous potential for the discovery of alternatives or supplements to antibiotics .

Fungal vis-à-vis of Candida albicans, of Cryptococcus neoformans as well as Aspergillus fumigatus , clove is an interest in mycotic vaginitis, with an antioxidant effect .

Immunostimulants , cloves therefore increase the number of leukocytes and thus oppose the immunosuppression induced by cyclophosphamide.

Anti-inflammatory property:

The eugenol contained in the essential oil of clove is anti-inflammatory , it slows down the formation of edema and arthritis and reduces the inflammatory reactions caused by insect bites by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins as well as a reduced chemotaxis of white blood cells.

Local anesthetic and analgesic properties:

Analgesic and analgesic by local route, the essential oil inhibits in particular nerve conduction. The eugenol has been used for a long time to disinfect root canals after root canal treatment as a local anesthetic and cauterizing as pulp.

Antispasmodic property:

Spasmolytic inhibiting the spasms induced by acetylcholine, carbachol, histamine and nicotine, clove is, among other things, an inhibitor of the calcium channels involved in muscle contractions.

Other effects:

  • General stimulant, neurotonic, cerebral energizer, antiasthenic, aphrodisiac
  • Uterine tonic in preparation for childbirth (to be used before, during and after)
  • Digestive and intestinal stimulant, carminative, antiputride
    • Disinfectant and purifying properties allowing the suppression of fermentation
  • Parasiticide
  • Protection of organs damaged by carcinogenic compounds
  • Slows down platelet aggregation ( in vitro tests )
  • Fly and moth repellent
  • Active on the SNA pƩ +
  • Glandular tonic, active in effect on:
    • Ovaries
    • The pituitary
    • The thyroid (balancing)
    • The adrenals
  • Antiallergic by inhibiting the release of histamine by mast cells
  • Antioxidant
  • Hypertensive

Does clove essential oil require precautions for use?

  • Risk of oral hepatotoxicity
  • Pure dermocausticity, dilution required
  • Reserved for adults
  • Pure, it is irritating to the mucous membranes and the skin, toxic to the liver and neurotoxic in high doses; convulsive as well as central nervous system depression
  • Do not inhale, diffuse, or put in the bath
  • No more than 10 days of use
  • Drug interactions with essential oils containing sesquiterpenes at more than 10%
  • Contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • The hepatic metabolization can cause hepato toxicity, it is advisable to always dilute this essential oil and to associate it with other well tolerated essential oils, in order to “cut” it and to reduce the proportion in the final mixture.
  • Prohibited in animals
  • Also avoid the combination with anticoagulants
  • Potential interactions with warfarin, so ask your pharmacist for advice


Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :

Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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