Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of the tropical tree, Syzygium aromaticum which belong to the Myrtaceae family and is native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
For centuries, cloves have been used both as a spice and medicine in India and China.
In fact, clove oil, the dried bud, stem and leaves of clove are quite popular for their medicinal properties.
Clove oil, Study Finds has been a traditional remedy for relieving nausea, motion sickness, hiccups and vomiting. Additionally, clove oil has been approved by the American Dental Association as a dental anesthetic.
The bioactive compounds in cloves - flavonoids, hexane, methylene chloride, ethanol, thymol, eugenol and benzene contribute towards its antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cloves can be used either whole or ground to impart a strong and spicy flavor to savory and sweet dishes.
Clove cigarettes, called kreteks, containing 60-80% tobacco and 20-40% ground clove are also available.
Health Benefits of Cloves
Cloves are a super-spice which boast of a gamut of health benefits – improved digestion, reduced cancer risk, strong bones, relieving stress, better immunity and healthy skin.
Interestingly, the essential oils of clove have the highest antioxidant power.
Natural Bad Breath Cure
According to Chinese traditional medicine, bad breath is a result of Qi stagnation. Clove encourages Qi flow and has been used in Chinese medicine as a home remedy for bad breath.
Clove cleans the tongue, palate and upper part of the throat of any bacteria or decaying matter and its strong aromatic qualities alter the smell within the mouth.
Chewing on clove or gargling with clove solution is the easiest way to keep bad breath away.
Essential oils like eugenic acid and crategolic acid present in cloves aid in digestion.
Clove promotes an increase in digestive enzymes as well as increases digestive motility, thus curbing production of excess digestive gasses, which can otherwise contribute to stomach bloating and flatulence.
Cloves also relax the smooth lining of the gastrointestinal tract, thusalleviating vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache.
Eating cloves with meals decreases insulin resistance and enhances the effect of gastrointestinal hormones responsible for satiety and decreased gastric emptying rates.
Cloves help insulin function more efficiently, thus requiring less insulin to get glucose into cells to provide energy.
A study presented at Experimental Biology demonstrated that cloves boost insulin functioning and lower blood glucose levels along with reducing total cholesterol, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides in people withtype 2 diabetes. The study suggested that type-2 diabetics who consume 1 to 3 grams of cloves per day could control their glucose levels.
Good Bone Health
The hydro-alcoholic extracts of cloves such as eugenol, flavones, isoflavones and flavonoids protect bone density and mineral content of bone, as well as increase the tensile strength of bones.
Cloves contain bone-friendly nutrients like manganese (essential for synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone), omega-3 fatty acid (increases calcium absorption, reduce bone loss and maintain mineral density), Vitamin C (boosts collagen production) and Vitamin K (regulates the activity of osteoclast cells).
100 grams of ground clove provides 141.8 mcg of Vitamin K and 60.13 mg of manganese.
The high antioxidant content in cloves protect organs from the harmful effects of free radicals, particularly the liver. In the long run, metabolism increases free radical production while simultaneously decreasing the level of antioxidants in the liver. Cloves counteract those effects with its hepatoprotective properties.
Improve Immune System
Cloves contain nutrients like Vitamin C and iron which boost immunity.
However, the star ingredient that contributes towards immunity in clove is eugenol, which is effective against many harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses.
The anti-viral and blood purification properties of clove reduce toxicity in blood and increase resistance against a multitude of diseases by stimulating antioxidant activity throughout the body, thus boosting the immune system.
100 grams of ground clove provides 11.83 mg of iron.
Anti-cancer and Antibacterial Properties
Research by scientists at the University of Minnesota, the University of Pittsburg and China’s Capital Medical University demonstrated that clove extract halted the activity and growth of colon, breast, ovarian, and liver cancer cells.
The germicidal properties of clove oil make it a very effective remedy for dental pain, toothache, sore gums and mouth ulcers.
Clove oil treats respiratory ailments like bronchitis, colds, sinusitis and asthma because of its anti-inflammatory, expectorant and antibacterial properties.
Inhaling clove oil in a vaporizer loosens mucus in the respiratory passages, improves breathing and treats congestion.
The antifungal and antibacterial properties of eugenol treat vaginal infections and athlete’s foot.
Clove tea made with basil, cardamom and honey soothes the senses andrelieves stress and muscle spasms.
Clove oil massages are quite popular since they reduce mental exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety and tension due to their relaxing effect on the mind.
Cloves work as an aphrodisiac agent, increasing testosterone levels in men, improving sexual performance and preventing premature ejaculation.
Research conducted by Biomed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal confirmed that the ethanol content in cloves has a positive impact on libido.
Topical application of clove oil removes acne due to its antimicrobial properties. For treating acne, clove oil must be added to a carrier oil in the ratio 1:10 (1 part clove oil, 10 parts carrier oil). This mixture must be applied with a cotton ball on the affected area.
Clove oil exfoliates blemishes and scars making the skin appear clear and healthy.