Eugenol is a familiar terpene, commonly found in spicy things like clove and cinnamon as well as other herbs and spices like nutmeg, allspice, hyssop, basil and bay leaf. In fact, Eugenol derives its name from the old Linnaen scientific name for Cloves, Eugenia caryophyllata, however, it’s now-accepted name is Syzygium aromaticum. It usually can be found packaged simply as, clove oil.
It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic abilities, Eugenol has many uses in every day life. It is a common flavoring in many candies and sweets and gives foods an added warmth. It has been used traditionally for centuries for its ability to keep food from spoiling, like when cloves are used to cure a ham. It is used a great deal in toothpastes, mouthwashes, bug repellents, cosmetics and even in some veterinary preparations.
Because of its antiseptic as well as analgesic qualities, it has become quite useful in the field of dentistry. Eugenol is commonly mixed with zinc oxide to create temporary fillings and when great care must be taken for the tooth root, such as root canals. It has been in use in such a fashion since 1890. Eugenol is also used to study fish as it causes them to enter a stupor. In cases of illness or disease, it is used in greater doses to humanely euthanize them as they fall asleep before overdosing. Eugenol is also used by several particular species of orchid bee for use in making its own pheromones.
Finally, studies show that like many other terpenes, eugenol has strong anti-inflammatory qualities and inhibits the oxidation of cells. Because of the way it can directly incorporate into cell membranes, protecting the cell from lipid breakdown, ie oxidation, on the spot, and very little actual eugenol is actually required for.a large protective effect. Many inflammatory diseases are related to this oxidative stress and eugenol attacks it two fold.