Health Benefits of Cloves


Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds, which 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), the Southern Philippines. Presently, Zanzibar is the largest producer of cloves. Also it is cultivated commercially in Sumatra, Jamaica, Brazil, India, West Indies, Pemba, Madagascar and other tropical areas.

In India and China, cloves have been used to get rid of bad breath, since over 2000 years. 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. Also in China and Persia, the cloves are considered to have aphrodisiac qualities.

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 flavoring various food recipes. This popular spice has been used in preparation of many regular dishes in Asian and Chinese cuisine since ancient times. Along with other spices like pepper, turmeric, ginger, etc. is being used in marinating chicken, fish, and other meat. Some of Indian vegetarian, chicken and rice dishes contain cloves. In the Middle East, it is used in meat and rice dishes. The spice also features in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as one of the ingredients in curry powders.

In addition, cloves are known to have rich nutritional and medicinal values.

 

Nutritional Value

Cloves consist of a significant amount of proteins, iron, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and hydrochloric acid. The spice also contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium. Potassium is an important electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Further, the spice buds contain very good amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene levels. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required by the body for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin in addition to essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers. Additionally, this spice is a good source of vitamin-K, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C and riboflavin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. They are also rich in dietary fiber.

 

Analgesic Properties

The analgesic property of clove is due to an active ingredient, eugenol oil, which is used for treatment of various dental problems like tooth ache. A cotton ball soaked in the clove oil can work wonders on the aching tooth. The oil obtained from cloves is known to possess antibacterial properties and is used in various dental creams, toothpastes, mouthwash, and throat sprays to cleanse bacteria. It is also used to relieve pain from sore gums and improves overall dental health.


Anti-inflammatory Effects

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 soothe certain respiratory conditions like cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and also clears the nasal tract.

 

Antiseptic and Antispasmodic Effects

Due to its antiseptic characteristics, clove and clove oil work as an effective remedy for some common problems such as cuts, fungal infections, burns, wounds, athlete’s foot and bruises. The clove oil if directly applied on the skin can cause irritation. The clove oil is hence used in the diluted form. As an antispasmodic agent, clove oil helps to relieve muscle spasms when applied topically near the affected portion.


Digestive Health

Cloves can effectively cure many digestive problems. Cloves are known to have medicinal qualities to cure flatulence, loose motions, indigestion and nausea. Cloves are useful in relieving the symptoms of diarrhea, gastric irritability and vomiting.


Cancer

Researchers have suggested that the cloves can effectively prevent lung cancer as well as skin cancer. However, this does not suggest that it is okay to smoke and burn in a tanning bed -cause you eat cloves. Eugenol, an essential component found in cloves, helps in minimizing the harmful effects of environmental wastes that can cause cancer of digestive system as well.


Immune System

Clove and clove oil boosts the immune system by purifying the blood and helps to fight against various diseases.


Other Health Benefits

Cloves are used for treating a number of health conditions such as malaria, cholera, scabies in the tropical Asian countries. It is known to have anti-parasitic properties.
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 gives a great relief. 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 various other general benefits too. Clove oil is used for the preparation of various beauty creams and lotions. It is also extensively used as a massage oil to provide relief from stress.

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.

Clove, a versatile spice, is easily available in every home and with so many nutritional qualities, one can surely benefit in a variety of ways. But it’s always advisable to consult your doctor before using clove oil in treating infants and during pregnancy.