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Because of cloves' significant eugenol content, most pharmacological activity is based on studies involving eugenol.


The local analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of clove oil is mainly due to the eugenol component. Eugenol acts on contact to depress nociceptors, the sensory receptors involved in pain perception (Brodin & Roed 1984). Eugenol also inhibits prostaglandin biosynthesis through potent cyclo-oxygenase-1 and -2 inhibitory activity (Huss et al 2002, Kelm et al 2000). Although eugenol is chiefly responsible, other constituents are also involved (Ghelardini et al 2001a). Beta-caryophyllene, another key component of clove oil, exhibits significant anti-inflammatory and rapid local anaesthetic activity in several animal models (Ghelardini et al 2001 b, © 2007 Elsevier Australia

Muruganandan et al 2001). Local anesthetic effects develop within 5 minutes of application and diminish after about 1 5 minutes.


Clove oil has an inhibitory effect against yeasts in vitro (Arora & Kaur 1999). Antibacterial activity has been demonstrated against Gram-negative anaerobic periodontal oral pathogens, including Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella Intermedia (Cai & Wu 1996). Activity has also been demonstrated against Bacillus subtllls, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterlca, Escherichia coll and Saccharo-myces cerevlslae (De et al 1999, Dorman & Deans 2000, Friedman et al 2002). In vitro assays have identified inhibitory effects on hepatitis C virus protease (Hussein et al 2000) and human cytomegalovirus (Shiraki et al 1998, Yukawa et al 1996). An animal model confirmed significant activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (Kurokawa et al 1998).

Cloves are also effective against species belonging to the Eurotlum, Aspergillus and Penlcllllum genera in vitro (Guynot et al 2003).

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