Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds, that grow on a middle-sized evergreen clove tree. A clove tree grows up to the height of 10 to 12 meters. The clove flower bud (Eugenia aromatica) is pink in color, and when dried, turns brown. Clove is native to the Moluccas or Spice Islands (Indonesia), and the Southern Philippines. Indonesia is the largest producer of cloves. These herbs are also cultivated commercially in Jamaica, Brazil, India, West Indies, Pemba, Madagascar and other tropical areas. Cloves as compared to other spices are available all year round.
In India and China, cloves have been used as an ancient remedy to get rid of bad breath. It is said that in China, anyone who had consultation with the Emperor was required to chew on cloves so that their breath turned sweet. In China and Persia, the cloves are considered to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Medicinal Properties of Cloves
Clove is used as a spice in different cuisines all over the globe. Due to its strong aroma, clove is used for cooking and also for adding spice to several food recipes. In addition, cloves are known to have rich nutritional and medicinal values. A number of health benefits of cloves have been discussed below.
Packed with Nutrition
Cloves consist of a significant amount of minerals, proteins, iron, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and hydrochloric acid. Researchers have found that cloves rank high as natural antioxidants. They also contain vitamins like A and C, manganese, and dietary fiber.
The analgesic property of clove is due to an active ingredient, eugenol oil, which is used for treatment of various dental problems like tooth decay and tooth abscesses. A cotton ball soaked in the clove oil can work wonders on an aching tooth. The oil obtained from cloves is known to possess antibacterial properties and is used in various dental creams, toothpastes, and mouthwashes to cleanse bacteria. It is also used to relieve pain from sore gums.
Cloves are also used as an anti-inflammatory agent, due to their high content of flavonoids. Aromatherapists use pure clove oil to cure the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. The aromatic clove oil when inhaled, can help relieve certain respiratory conditions like cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and it also clears the nasal tract. The diluted clove oil when gargled helps in effectively easing the throat discomfort.
Antiseptic and Antispasmodic
Due to its antiseptic properties, clove and clove oil work as an effective remedy for some common problems such as cuts, fungal infections, burns, athlete's foot, and bruises. The clove oil, if directly applied on the skin can cause irritation. The clove oil is hence used for application in diluted form. As an antispasmodic agent, clove oil helps to relieve muscle spasms when applied topically near the affected portion. For centuries, clove oil is used as a natural way to aid in childbirth.
Aids Digestive Health
Cloves can effectively cure many digestive problems. Cloves are known to have medicinal qualities to cure nausea, indigestion, flatulence, stomach pain, and loose motions.
Researchers have suggested that the cloves can effectively prevent lung cancer as well as skin cancer. Eugenol, an essential component found in cloves, helps in minimizing the harmful effects of environmental wastes that can cause cancer of gastrointestinal tract.
Clove and clove oil boosts the immune system by purifying the blood. Cloves are also known to stimulate blood circulation.
Clove oil is an excellent stress reliever. It contains aphrodisiac properties and hence stimulates the brain and reduces fatigue, mental exhaustion, and depression. It has successfully treated patients suffering from insomnia and it induces a high-quality sleep. Clove oil is helpful in treating mental diseases such as anxiety, and memory loss.
More Health Benefits
Cloves are used for treating a number of health conditions such as malaria, cholera, scabies in the tropical Asian countries.
Cloves benefit the diabetic patients by controlling the blood glucose levels. The essential constituent (Eugenol) found in cloves is also powerful for preventing blood clots.
Clove oil mixed with milk and salt can be used as a home remedy for headache. It is one of the effective remedies for stye and various eye infections. If a piece of clove is applied to stye, it relieves the pain and swelling. Clove is used as a relief for earaches, a mixture of clove oil and sesame oil is warmed and applied for earaches.
Apart from these health benefits of cloves, they are known to offer other benefits too. Clove oil is used for treatment of acne. Applying clove oil on affected area helps in getting rid of swelling caused due to pimples. Clove oil is used for the preparation of various beauty cream and lotions. It is also extensively used as a massage oil.
Clove is used as a remedy for treating morning sickness. After meals you can consume tea prepared by adding 4 grains of cloves. Also chewing a few cloves can give you great relief.
Clove oil, in the form of purified liquid is widely used in synthetic vanilla and also used as flavors in the manufacture of perfumes, soaps, and various toiletries.
The clove oil makes an excellent natural mosquito repellent as well as moth repellent, and can protect against mosquitoes for 4-5 hours. Cloves are also used in making cigarettes.
Clove, a versatile spice, is easily available in every home and with so many nutritional qualities, one can surely benefit in a number of ways. But it's always advisable to consult your doctor before using clove oil in treating infants and during pregnancy.