Cloves for Your Health
Indigenous to various countries in Asia, cloves form the basis of many different Asian dishes and are widely used in kitchens around the world. The clove that we recognize is actually the dried flower bud of a tree called Syzygium aromaticum which belongs to the Myrtaceae plant family.
However when it comes to medicine, various parts of the plant are used including its familiar buds but also its leaves and stems while its essential oil is also extracted and sold commercially.
Cloves have been used therapeutically for a very long time in both Chinese and Ayurveic medicine as a treatment for everything from tooth decay to enhanced libido.
More recently we have begun to appreciate the enormous potential of the herb and an increasing number of people are using it to treat a growing range of complaints that we will look at in detail later in the article.
Cloves are rich in vitamins and important minerals. They are also virtually free of calories and very high in fiber as well as natural antioxidant properties. But that is not all; the chemical component which give cloves their powerful medicinal effects is eugenol.
Research shows that eugenol is deadly to many harmful organisms such as fungi and bacteria and it may even provide a pain relieving effect. (1)
1. For the Stomach
Cloves and their essential oil are able to ease indigestion and many of the knock-on effects of indigestion such as gas and bloating. They can promote the production of digestive enzymes which helps improve the way food is digested and eliminate gases.
They are also traditionally used to help treat other stomach complaints including diarrhea and nausea. Cloves can be mixed with water or made into a tea to treat digestive problems.
2. For Nausea and Vomiting
As well as being able to settle the stomach, cloves are also considered to be an excellent natural remedy for feelings of nausea and to stop you from vomiting. Pregnant women can also use cloves to overcome feelings of morning sickness.
One recommended method of taking cloves for nausea and morning sickness is to make a drink by mixing 8 to 10 clove grains with fresh tamarind and water.
3. For the Teeth
If you want to keep the dentist at bay and let’s face it, who doesn’t cloves are one of the best options available. Cloves are often found as an ingredient in commercial oral care products like mouthwashes and toothpastes. They can help fight tooth decay and gum disease because off their antibacterial ability. (1)
They also have a natural ability to relieve the pain that anybody familiar with toothache knows so well. They can also keep your breath smelling fresher for longer and have been traditionally used to treat halitosis.
Where I live in Northern Thailand, cloves are valued for their ability to relieve toothache and they are often simply inserted between the cheek and affected tooth. Clove essential oil is one of the very best essential oils to use for oral problems; you can make your own homemade mouthwash by adding a few drops of oil to a glass of water and gargling the solution a few times a day.
4. For Respiratory Conditions
Cloves can help relieve many of the symptoms of the common cold like congestion and help you to breathe much more freely. Cloves have excellent expectorant properties giving them the ability to free up mucus and ease any congestive issues.
To treat coughing and sinus congestion, you can make a steam bath and inhale the vapors or try drinking a few cups of clove tea each day until you feel better.
5. For the Hair
If your hair is starting to look a bit lifeless and dull, then you can use cloves to breathe some new life into it.
One way of using your cloves for your hair is to make a conditioner with just a few ingredients.
All you need is a handful of cloves and some olive oil.
- First mix 2 tablespoons of ground dried cloves into half a cup of olive oil.
- Warm up the mixture in a saucepan but don’t let it boil.
- Once you have heated the mixture, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for at least three hours before straining it into a container.
- To condition your hair, warm some of your ready-made clove mixture in your hands then apply it evenly through your hair and scalp.
- Allow it to work on your hair for at least 20 minutes before rinsing it out and shampooing as normal.
6. For the Skin
Cloves have natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are great for the skin. Antioxidants help protect against the damage caused by free radicals including skin damage and can even reverse the signs of aging like wrinkles.
Clove oil can be applied topically to the skin to help treat several skin conditions including the following:
Cloves and the essential oil derived from the herb have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be applied topically to your spots and blackheads.
- Before applying clove oil to the skin, be sure to dilute it well with either water or a carrier oil like coconut oil.
- You may feel a slight tingling sensation when you apply it to your skin at first.
- Apply this treatment several times a day to the affected areas of your skin.
Clove oil can also be applied to minor scars to help diminish their appearance. There is no quick fix for scarring and treatment takes time so do not expect immediate results but if you persist, you should see some definite improvements in the long run. Again be careful to dilute your clove oil with a carrier oil before you rub it into the skin.
7. Antimicrobial Uses
Studies have consistently demonstrated that cloves and in particular their active compound eugenol are effective against many harmful organisms.
A Portuguese study published in 2011 demonstrated that eugenol was effective against giardia by inhibiting the growth of the parasites and offered a potential natural treatment for giardiasis. (2)
When it comes to antimicrobial ability, clove oil has proven effective against various fungal, yeast and bacterial strains including the common candida fungal strain. (3)
Japanese researchers have conducted research into cloves and other similar spices and have found that they could offer seafood protection from harmful organisms. (4)
How to use Cloves as a Supplement
There are plenty of different ways that you can add cloves to your diet but they don’t make the best snack because of their tough texture and powerful flavor. They can of course be added to your cooking but if you are keen to really increase your intake of clothes, you could grind them up and insert the finished product into an empty capsule.
Clove essential oil is also commercially available and has a wide variety of uses from topical application to inhalation. Your cloves can also be added to water or smoothies. Another option is to make clove tea.
Clove Tea Recipe
When buying your cloves, whole cloves are better than the pre-ground variety because they retain a better flavor. Grind a tablespoon of cloves for each cup of desired tea with a grinder or a pestle and mortar but don’t grind them down too much.
- Grind a tablespoon of cloves for each cup of desired tea with a grinder or a pestle and mortar but don’t grind them down too much.
- Bring your water to the boil and then turn down the heat.
- Now drop in your ground cloves and any additional ingredients that you want like honey or stevia.
- Allow your tea too steep for a minimum of 10 minutes, strain and enjoy.
Cloves are probably safe for the vast majority of people when eaten as a food or drunk in tea form.
Clove essential oil should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin because it is very powerful and could cause a reaction. Clove essential oil should not be ingested unless you are under expert supervision.