This fresh-tasting spice is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and is therefore not only useful in the kitchen but also as a herbal medicine. Cloves are beneficial for pain relief, especially for the teeth and gums, and help to reduce inflammation, which is associated with many chronic diseases.
Cloves are the dried flower buds that come from the Evergreen clove tree. Cloves and clove oil are used in cooking, perfumes and flavorings, and have a sweet, warm flavor and smell.
Cloves contain manganese, vitamins C and K, magnesium, calcium and fiber. Cloves also contain significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, a substance helpful for relieving pain, killing bacteria and reducing inflammation. Eugenol and other components of clove combine to make clove a mild anesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent, which have been used in conjunction with oral pain relief.
A study found that clove oil is helpful in dentistry before a needle is injected into the gums. The subjects reported feeling less pain.
For a natural headache remedy or other pain relief, make a paste from one-quarter teaspoon clove powder and one teaspoon cinnamon oil. Apply this to the forehead for headaches or to any other painful area. For toothache, chew on a clove or apply clove oil to the painful area. This will help to numb the pain and combat the bacterial infection and inflammation that can lead to gum disease and to the risk of further damage to teeth.
A few grams of cloves per day boosted insulin function, according to two reports presented in 2006. One study found that all participants who ingested cloves, regardless of the amount, showed a drop in glucose and triglycerides levels. Clove oil was also found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, which can lead to heart disease.
Inflammation Eugenol, a component in cloves, has been found to inhibit enzymes and pathways that lead to inflammatory conditions in human cell studies
An animal study found a reduction in yeast infections when clove oil was applied to the infected area.
One study found that when mice with induced lung cancer were given an IV clove infusion, cancer growth was reduced.
Tips on Using Cloves
- Choose whole, fresh cloves whenever possible as the powder form loses its flavor quickly.
- If a clove is fresh, it will float vertically in water. Fresh, good quality cloves also release an oil when squeezed.
- Use cloves in combination with other herbs and spices to flavor meats, or add ground cloves to homemade cakes, cookies etc.
- Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Krastanov A, Schmidt E, Stoilova I, Stoyanova A. Chemical Composition and antioxidant Properties of clove Leaf essential oil. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Aug 23;54(17):6303-6307.
- Diwakr BT, Lokesh BR, Naidu KA, Raghavenra H. Eugenol-the active principle from cloves inhibits 5-lipoxygenase activity and leukotriene-C4 in human PMNL cells. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent fatty acids. 2006 Jan;74(1):23-7.
- Ahmad N, Alam MK, Bisht D, Hakim SR, Khan A, Mannan A, Owais M, Shehbaz A. Antimicrobial activity of clove oil and its potential in the treatment of vaginal candidiasis. J Drug Target. 2005 Dec;13(10):555-61.
- Banerjee S, Das S, Panda CK. Clove (Syzgium aromaticum L.), a potential chemopreventive agent for lung cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Aug; 27(8):1645-54.
- Algareer A, Alyhaya A, Andersson L. The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. J Dent. 2006 Mar 10.