Traditional Indications

In traditional medicine, clove (Syzygium aromaticum) has been used for centuries to treat vomiting; flatulence; nausea; liver, bowel and stomach disorders, indigestion and diarrhoea; and as a stimulant for the nerves. Clove essential oil (CEO) is traditionally used in the treatment of burns and wounds, and as a pain reliever in dental care as well as treating tooth infections and toothache. Cloves are used in Indian and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as a warming and stimulating agent. In tropical Asia, cloves have been documented to relieve different microorganisms as scabies, cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis. As well, in America, clove has been traditionally used in inhibiting food-borne pathogens to treat viruses, worms, candida, and different bacterial and protozoan infections. Moreover, eugenol has been widely used in dentistry because it can penetrate the dental pulp tissue and enter the bloodstream. Sesquiterpenes, isolated from clove were reported to have anti-carcinogenic activity (1).

In TCM clove is called Ding Xiang 丁香 and belongs to the 'Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold' category. Cloves are warm and pungent and enter the Kidney, Lung, Spleen and Stomach channels to warms the Middle Jiao and direct Qi downward, warms the Kidneys and boost Kideny Yang. Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ding Xiang may be prescribed by TCM doctors include abdominal pain, hiccups, vomiting, diarrhoea, impotence and seminal and vaginal discharge (2).


Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) possesses various pharmacological activities. S. aromaticum is rich in many phytochemicals as follows: sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, hydrocarbon, and phenolic compounds. Eugenyl acetate, eugenol, and β-caryophyllene are the most significant phytochemicals in clove oil. Pharmacologically, Syzygium aromaticum has been examined toward various pathogenic parasites and microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria, Plasmodium, Babesia, Theileria parasites, Herpes simplex, and hepatitis C viruses. Several reports documented the analgesic, antioxidant, anticancer, antiseptic, anti-depressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial activity of eugenol against several pathogenic bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis and S. aureus. Sesquiterpenes, isolated from clove were reported to have anti-carcinogenic activity (1).

Studies to access the antimicrobial activity of Syzygium aromaticum against extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), metallo-beta-lactamase (MBL), and AmpC beta-lactamase-producing gram-negative bacteria causing urinary tract infection found that clove was effective against all gram-negative isolates but the best antibacterial activity was shown against Proteus species (3). Syzygium aromaticum has also demonstrated in vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori activity (4).



1. Batiha GE, Alkazmi LM, Wasef LG, Beshbishy AM, Nadwa EH, Rashwan EK. Syzygium aromaticum L. (Myrtaceae): Traditional Uses, Bioactive Chemical Constituents, Pharmacological and Toxicological Activities. Biomolecules. 2020;10(2).
2. Qi Ma. Ding Xiang Denver, CO, US: Me and Qi; 2022 [Available from:
3. Faujdar SS, Bisht D, Sharma A. Antibacterial activity of Syzygium aromaticum (clove) against uropathogens producing ESBL, MBL, and AmpC beta-lactamase: Are we close to getting a new antibacterial agent? J Family Med Prim Care. 2020;9(1):180-6.
4. Peng C, Sang S, Shen X, Zhang W, Yan J, Chen P, et al. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of Syzygium aromaticum and the preliminary mechanism of action. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2022;288:114995.