The Health Benefits of Cloves
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
The Health Benefits of Cloves
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are the dried flower buds of a tree which belong to the Myrtaceae family. This tree is native in the Maluku islands of Indonesia but is used all over the world as a spice in cooking. It is an evergreen tree that grows from 8 to 12 meters; the clove is the tree’s flower buds which may look pale at first and then gradually turns into green. It develops into its distinct red color when it is ready to be harvested.
Cloves are known to have a high antioxidant content compared to most foods. It is well known for its therapeutic properties for centuries now and it is also used in the treatment of many illnesses up to this day.
Historically, cloves were only grown in the Malaku Islands of Indonesia which is known as the Spice Islands. These therapeutic herbs found their way to the Middle East and to Europe before the 1st century AD. The Clove Trade was common with Muslim merchants. The clove was considered an herb with a very high value because of its inclusion in many delicious recipes as well as its therapeutic properties. Its weight was considered as worth as the weight of gold in Britain during the 17th and 18th century.
Cloves are still used for cooking but its therapeutic effects are derived from its rich essential oil content. Eugenol comprises about 70 to 90% of the essential oils extracted from the lowly clove and it is responsible for the distinct aroma and taste of clove as well.
Eugenol has antiseptic properties and anesthetic properties. The oil, the dried flower buds, stems and the leaves of the clove plant are all used for therapeutic purposes. It is used for the treatment of an upset stomach, gas formation, pain and to treat nausea and vomiting.
Clove is also used to reduce phlegm as an expectorant. If applied to the gums, can reduce toothache, reduces pain for dental procedures, inflammation in the mouth and throat and to cure bad breath.
This herb is also known as an effective treatment, in combination with other ingredients, for premature ejaculation.
Clove is also added in toothpastes, personal care products, perfume and cigarettes. Eugenol in clove acts like menthol which can reduce harmful tobacco smoke.
Cloves are safe to use for most people when consumed in foods and recipes. Children can cause serious side effects when clove oil is taken by mouth. The clove oil is harmless when applied to the skin but can cause serious gum, tooth and mucus membrane problems when applied repeatedly.
Inhaling smoke from cigarettes with clove ingredients can cause breathing problems, upper respiratory conditions and severe lung infections.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women may take cloves by mouth but must not take cloves in medicinal doses since it may harm the unborn baby. Cloves may be beneficial for surgery, slowing blood clotting but can cause bleeding during or post surgery. It is advised therefore to avoid using or eating cloves in at least 2 to 3 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan