Clove Herb

What Is Clove? A Very Stimulating Herb…

We all know clove is a staple of wintertime recipes, including desserts like ginger snaps and pumpkin pie. Clove is also used as a warming herbal carminative and as a topical anodyne (painkiller) in many healing traditions including Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and western herbal ism. Native to Indonesia, cloves are the unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Syzygium aromatic um.

You might also notice that recipes call for a very small amount of clove. A pumpkin pie recipe, for example, may call for ½ teaspoon of ginger and a whole teaspoon of cinnamon, but only ¼ teaspoon of clove. Clove’s pungency is so powerful it could overwhelm the entire dish.

This pungency gives clove its highly aromatic quality, but it also gives it a particularly heating quality. This may explain its prominence in wintertime recipes like pumpkin pie: the pungency of cloves keeps us warm. But this heating quality also earns it a diverse array of healing uses especially in those with vata and kapha constitutions; on the other hand, those with a pitta constitution may find cloves aggravating. (Lad, 1984)

How to Use Clove

Topical: Add a few drops of clove essential oil into massage cream or oil and gently apply in wide circles around the belly button (moving from lower right side, to the top, to the lower left, to the bottom) to warm the digestive organs.

Digestion: As a warming carminative, clove can be added to soups, pies, and other dishes to kindle the digestive fire.

Colds and flu: To alleviate congestion, a few drops of essential oil can be dropped into hot water and breathed in with the steam. (Lad, 1984) Our Intermediate Course explores the nature of our respiratory health as well as the impact that herbs have on other systems of the body. The essential oil of cloves can be purchased here.

Toothache: As an anodyne, cloves are used in response to toothaches. As such, it has earned its place in a number of toothpastes and related home remedies.

Inflammation: Clove, along with many other herbs, is an anti-inflammatory. In the first study ever conducted to determine bio availability of antioxidants in common herbs and spices, it was shown that culinary amounts of cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric were able to significantly stifle the inflammatory response. (Percival, 2012) Whole cloves can be ground and pinched into teas, infusions, pies, soups, and other dishes. Clove partners well with sweet spices like cinnamon or fruity herbs like hibiscus.

Aphrodisiac: Perhaps one of the more notable uses for cloves is how stimulating it can be for those who wish to promote their sexual activity (Thirtieth, 1998). Herbal pungency is often associated with aphrodisiacal results, which is why other pungent, heating herbs like garlic are used in a similar way. The topical use of cloves as part of a botanical cream has been shown to help men overcome premature ejaculation. (Choi, 2000)

Cloves, as a particularly pungent herb, earns itself a place in many recipes because it heats up digestive fire and therefore helps us to process all of those heavy foods.

Clove Safety

Overusing clove oil in the mouth may damage the gums and/or mucous membranes. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with bleeding disorders should avoid medicinal amounts. Stop using clove two weeks before surgery.

Choi HK, Jung GW, Moon KH, et al. (2000) Clinical study of SS-Cream in patients with lifelong premature ejaculation. Urology 2000;55:257-61

Percival SS, Helve JPN, Nieves CJ, Monterrey C, Migliaccio AJ, Meadors J. (2012). Bio availability of herbs and spices in humans as determined by ex vivo inflammatory suppression and DNA strand breaks. J Am Coll Nutr. 31(4):288 – 294.

Staff, Med-line Plus (1995-2014). National Institute of Health. Retrieved January 11, 2014, from

Clove is a plant grown in parts of Asia and South America. People use the oils, dried flower buds, leaves, and stems to make medicine.

Clove is most commonly applied directly to the gums for toothache, pain control during dental work, and other dental-related issues. But there is limited scientific research to support these and other uses.

In manufacturing, clove is used in toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and cigarettes. Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, generally contain 60% to 80% tobacco and 20% to 40% ground clove.

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Cloves

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Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen also known as Syzygium aromaticum (1Trusted Source).

Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season pot roasts, add flavor to hot beverages, and bring spicy warmth to cookies and cakes.

You may know cloves as one of the main ingredients in gingerbread baked goods or a staple spice in Indian cuisine.

Cloves are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice, but they have also been used in traditional medicine.

In fact, animal studies have found that the compounds in cloves may have several health benefits, including supporting liver health and helping stabilize blood sugar levels (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

This article reviews 8 of the most impressive health benefits of eating cloves.

1. Contain important nutrients

Cloves contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so using whole or ground cloves to add flavor to your food can provide some important nutrients.

One teaspoon (2 grams) of ground cloves contains (4Trusted Source):

Manganese is an essential mineral for maintaining brain function and building strong bones (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Apart from being a rich source of manganese, cloves are only used in small amounts and do not provide significant amounts of nutrients.

2. High in antioxidants

In addition to containing several important vitamins and minerals, cloves are rich in antioxidants (7Trusted Source).

Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of chronic disease (8Trusted Source).

Cloves also contain a compound called eugenol, which has been shown to act as a natural antioxidant.

In fact, a test-tube study found that eugenol stopped oxidative damage caused by free radicals five times more effectively than vitamin E, another potent antioxidant (9Trusted Source).

Including cloves in your diet along with other antioxidant-rich foods can help improve your overall health.

3. May help protect against cancer

Some research suggests that the compounds found in cloves might help protect against cancer.

One test-tube study found that clove extract helped stop the growth of tumors and promoted cell death in cancer cells (10Trusted Source).

Another test-tube study observed similar results, showing that concentrated amounts of clove oil caused cell death in 80% of esophageal cancer cells (11Trusted Source).

The eugenol found in cloves has also been shown to have anticancer properties.

A test-tube study found that eugenol promoted cell death in cervical cancer cells (12Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that these test-tube studies used very concentrated amounts of clove extract, clove oil, and eugenol.

Eugenol is toxic in high amounts and overdosing on clove oil may cause liver damage, especially in children. Further research is needed to determine how lower amounts may affect humans (13Trusted Source).

4. Can kill bacteria

Cloves have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, meaning they can help stop the growth of microorganisms like bacteria (14Trusted Source).

One test-tube study showed that clove essential oil killed three common types of bacteria, including E. coli, which is a strain of bacteria that can cause food poisoning (15Trusted Source).

What’s more, the antibacterial properties of cloves could even help promote oral health.

In one test-tube study, the compounds extracted from cloves were found to stop the growth of two types of bacteria that contribute to gum disease (16Trusted Source).

Another study in 40 people tested the effects of an herbal mouthwash consisting of tea tree oil, cloves, and basil.

After using the herbal mouthwash for 21 days, they showed improvements in gum health, as well as the amount of plaque and bacteria in the mouth (17Trusted Source).

In combination with regular brushing and proper oral hygiene, the antibacterial effects of cloves may benefit your oral health.

5. May improve liver health

Studies show that the beneficial compounds in cloves could help promote liver health.

The compound eugenol may be especially beneficial for the liver.

One animal study fed rats with fatty liver disease mixtures containing either clove oil or eugenol.

Both mixtures improved liver function, reduced inflammation, and decreased oxidative stress (18Trusted Source).

Another animal study showed that the eugenol found in cloves helped reverse signs of liver cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver (2Trusted Source).

Unfortunately, research on the liver-protecting effects of cloves and eugenol in humans is limited.

However, one small study found that taking eugenol supplements for 1 week decreased levels of glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs), a family of enzymes involved in detoxification that’s often a marker of liver disease (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Cloves are also high in antioxidants, which may help prevent liver disease due to their ability to help decrease oxidative stress (21Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, eugenol is toxic in high amounts. One case study in a 2-year-old boy showed that 5–10 mL of clove oil caused serious liver damage (22Trusted Source).

6. May help regulate blood sugar

Research shows that the compounds found in cloves may help keep blood sugar under control.

An animal study found that clove extract helped moderate blood sugar increases in mice with diabetes (3Trusted Source).

Another test-tube and animal study looked at the effects of clove extract and nigericin, a compound found in cloves, both on human muscle cells and in mice with diabetes.

Cloves and nigericin were found to increase the uptake of sugar from the blood into cells, increase the secretion of insulin, and improve the function of cells that produce insulin (23Trusted Source).

Insulin is a hormone responsible for transporting sugar from your blood into your cells. The proper functioning of insulin is essential for maintaining steady blood sugar levels.

In combination with a balanced diet, cloves could help keep your blood sugar levels in check.

7. May promote bone health

Low bone mass is a condition that affects an estimated 43 million older adults in the United States alone (24Trusted Source).

It can lead to the development of osteoporosis, which may increase the risk of breaks and fractures.

Some of the compounds in cloves have been shown to help preserve bone mass in animal studies.

For example, an animal study found that clove extract high in eugenol improved several markers of osteoporosis and increased bone density and strength (25Trusted Source).

Cloves are also rich in manganese, providing an impressive 30% of the DV in just 1 teaspoon (2 grams) of ground cloves (4Trusted Source).

Manganese is a mineral that’s involved in the formation of bone and incredibly important to bone health.

An animal study found that taking manganese supplements for 12 weeks increased bone mineral density and bone growth (26Trusted Source).

However, current research on the effects of cloves on bone mass is mostly limited to animal and test-tube studies. More research is needed to determine how it may affect bone formation in humans.

8. May reduce stomach ulcers

Some research indicates that the compounds found in cloves could help treat stomach ulcers.

Also known as peptic ulcers, stomach ulcers are painful sores that form in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus.

They’re most commonly caused by reductions in the protective lining of the stomach, which are due to factors like stress, infection, and genetics (27Trusted Source).

In one animal study, essential oil from cloves was shown to increase the production of gastric mucus (28Trusted Source).

Gastric mucus functions as a barrier and helps prevent erosion of the stomach lining from digestive acids (29Trusted Source).

Another animal study found that clove extract helped treat stomach ulcers and exhibited effects similar to those of several anti-ulcer medications (30Trusted Source).

Though the anti-ulcer effects of cloves and their compounds may be promising, further studies are needed on their effects in humans.

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