Syzygium aromaticum

scientific name: 
Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Evergreen tree up to 14 m high.  Leaves opposite, entire, glabrous, coriaceous, aromatic, pellucid dotted, petioles 2-3 cm long with swollen reddish base, blade elliptic, 7-13 x 3-6 cm, base cuneate, tip acuminate, mature leaves dark-green, shiny above, paler beneath; inflorescence terminal, 5 cm long of 3-20 flowers in paniculate cymes; flowers reddish; fruits a fleshy drupe 3 x 1.2cm, oblong-obovoid, dark red; seed oblong ca. 1.5 cm long.

nb: angled peduncles and short pedicels ca 5 mm long constitute the clove stems of commerce.




flower bud*, mashed, applied locally1*Flower buds or "sweet cloves" are imported in the Dominican Republic.


flower bud, applied locally, frequently used jointly with garlic1


flower bud, mashed, in mouth washes, chewed1

The clove of Syzygium aromaticum is widely used for human consumption.

For toothache:

It is locally applied and chewed.  The dose should be 1 to 3 cloves (120-300 mg) -the usual ration as food12—no more than 3 times a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for toothache is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should toothache persist for more than 2 days, seek a dentist’s attention.

The flower bud administered to mice in their daily feed (2%) during 10 days did not cause genotoxicity13.

The aqueous extract of the flower bud administered orally to dogs (1%) caused no irritation of gastric mucosa14.

The essential oil in mice showed an LD50 = 1.82 g/kg orally15.

In humans, ingestion of essential oil (4.9 mL/person) causes severe toxicity with depression of the central nervous system, urinary abnormalities and acidosis16.

In humans, the daily accepted intake of eugenol is up to 2.5 mg/kg17.

Repeated application of the essential oil may result in gingival damage17.

Eugenol causes contact dermatitis, when the skin is regularly and repeatedly exposed to plant parts17.

The clove has been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “GRAS” (Generally Regarded As Safe)18.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The flower bud contains essential oil (6.1%)2: eugenol2 (80-90%)3, ß-caryophyllene, ß-caryophyllene oxide, α-humulene and α-humulene oxide2.

The plant contains, in addition to triterpenic acids, catechuic acid, hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones, esters, alcohols, lactones, flavonic aglycones and an ellagictannin : eugeniin4.

The leaf contains benzoates : 3,4- dihydroxybenzoic acid and 3,4- dihydroxyphenylethanol5.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of inflorescence6: calories : 323; water: 6.9%; protein : 6%; fat: 20.1%; carbohydrate : 61.2%; fiber : 9.6%; ash : 5.9%; calcium : 646 mg; phosphorus: 105 mg; iron : 8.7 mg; sodium : 243 mg; potassium : 1102 mg; carotene : 318 µg; thiamine : 0.12 mg; riboflavin : 0.28 mg; niacin : 1.45 mg; ascorbic acid : 81 mg.

Clove powder in vitro (2 g/L) was active against Staphylococcus aureus7.

The methanolic extract in vitro (0.8 mg/disk) was active against Streptococcus mutans, whereas the aqueous extract was inactive8.  The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) was active againstCandida albicans9.

Clove powder administered orally to mice (3 g/kg) decreased the level of conditioned and nociceptive response, and of spontaneous activity; it had tranquilizing and anticonvulsant effects.  At 10 g/kg, the action of barbiturics increased, and it had anticonvulsant effects10.

Eugenol is claimed to be active as an antiseptic, local anesthetic and dental analgesic11-12.




1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 ZHENG G, KENNEY P, LAM L, 1992 Sesquiterpenes from clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) as potential anticarcinogenic agents. J Nat Prod 55(7):999-1003.

3 NEWALL C, ANDERSON L, PHILLIPSON J, 1996 Herbal medicines: A guide for health-care professionals. Syzygium aromaticum. London, Great Britain. Pharmaceutical Press, p79.

4 NOMAKA GI, HARADA M, NISHIOKA I, 1980 Eugeniin, a new ellagitannin from the cloves. Chem Pharm Bull 28:685-687.

5 LIU JY, WANG GH, LI RQ, SHAO ZK, ZAO JY, 1989 3,4-Dihydroxyphenethyl alcohol and 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid fromEugenia caryophyllata leaves as antiinflammatory agents. Patent Faming Zhuanli Shenging Gongkai Shuomingshu, 1,030,184.

6 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p367.

7 NES F, SKJELKVALE R, OLSVIK O, BERDAL BP, 1984 The effect of natural spices and oleoresins on Lactobacillus plantarum and Staphylococcus aureus. 12th Int. IUMS-ICFMH Sym, Norway, Microb. Assoc. Interact. Food, 435-440.

8 NAMBA T, TSUNEZUKA M, BAE KH, HATTORI M, 1981 Studies of dental caries prevention by traditional Chinese medicines (Part I). Screening of crude drugs for antibacterial action against Streptococcus mutans. Shoyagaku Zasshi 35(4):295-302.

9 GIRON LM, AGUILAR GA, CACERES A, ARROYO GL, 1988 Anticandidal activity of plants used for the treatment of vaginitis in Guatemala and clinical trial of a Solanum nigrescens preparation. J Ethnopharmacol 22(3):307-313.

10 SHUKIA B, KHANNA NK, GODHWANI JL, 1987 Effect of Brahmi Rasayan on the central nervous system. J Ethnopharmacol 21(1):65-74.

11 NEGWER M, 1987 Organic chemical drugs and their synonyms (an international survey). 6th ed. Berlin, Germany: Akademie Verlag, 1 & 2.

12 Reynolds JEF, 1993 Martindale the extra pharmacopoeia, 30th ed. London, Great Britain: The Pharmaceutical Press.

13 KUMARI M, 1991 Modulatory influences of clove (Caryophyllus aromaticus, L.) on hepatic detoxification systems and bone marrow genotoxicity in male Swiss albino mice. Cancer Lett 60(1):67-73.

14 SANCHEZ-PALOMERA E, 1951 Concept of the mucous barrier and its significance. II. Changes in the gastric mucosa produced by the local actions of spices and other irritative agents. Gastroenterology 18:269-286.

15 OHSUMI T, KUROKI K, KIMURA T, MURAKAMI Y, 1984 Study on acute toxicities of essential oils used in endodontic treatment. J. Kyushu Dental Soc. 38(6):1064-1071.

16 LANE BW, ELLENHORN MJ, HULBERT TV, McCARRON M, 1991 Clove oil ingestion in an infant. Human Exp Toxicol 10(4):291-294.

17 SEETHARAM VA, PASRICHA JS, 1987 Condiments and contact dermatitis of the finger-tips. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 53(5):325-328.

18 Code of Federal Regulations, 2002 Food and drugs. Chapter I - Food and drug administration, department of health and human services. Part 182 - Substances generally recognized as safe. Sec. 182.10. Spices and other natural seasonings and flavorings. U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access, USA. 21(3):451-452. Feb.24,2003, URL:


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.