Used for thousands of years throughout Asian, African, and Middle Eastern tropical nations for cooking and holistic remedies, the various uses for cloves are fascinating.
Ancient Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and herbalists around the world mention cloves repeatedly but it is only in the last two decades that the true health benefits of cloves have begun to gain the attention they deserve.
Cloves are dried buds harvested from the Myrtaceae tree and are known scientifically as Syzygium aromaticum. The buds are the most common form of cloves used but the stems, flower buds, leaves, and expressed oils are beneficial as well.
You’re probably most familiar with cloves in relation to winter meals and holiday desserts, typically paired with other spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. The flavor is unique in its spicy sweetness, with a warm and aromatic scent. Cloves are an excellent complement to meats, curries, marinades, fruits, and baked goods.
Cloves are naturally…
Cloves for Daily Health
There are three primary ailments that holistic practitioners have treated with cloves throughout the centuries.
1. Digestive Health: Cloves are excellent for settling upset stomach, soothing diarrhea, preventing bloating, and calming nausea. The compounds found in cloves relax the gastrointestinal tract, soothing along the way.
2. Respiratory Health: As an organic expectorant, cloves help to break up phlegm in the throat and esophagus. This helps you to cough up the mucus and prevent it settling in your lungs. If you know you don’t have a bacterial infection – such as bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia – clove tea is a natural way to treat the first signs of a cold or flu. Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor, Neil Schachter, MD, suggests making a tea for respiratory ailments.
Clove Tea for Cough
1 stick of cinnamon
2 cardamom seeds
1 black tea bag
12 ounces of boiling water
Boil water, add spices and tea bag, and steep for three minutes. Strain loose particles from tea and sip until finished.
3. Natural Pain Relief: Dabbing clove oil directly to the site of a sore tooth with a cotton swab can alleviate pain temporarily until you are able to get to your dentist. An added benefit is that it sterilizes the location as well. Unlike over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as Ambesol™ and Orajel™, cloves are a purely organic anesthetic. It can also be used to numb the pain of dry socket, a condition that affects many after having a tooth extracted.
Extracts of clove oil are used throughout the dental industry due to the antibacterial, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties of a compound called eugenol as well as two flavonoids kaempferol and rhamnetin. These antioxidants are why manufacturers use it in sore throat sprays and mouthwashes.
If you have a sore throat, clove is a soothing way to relieve the discomfort (see clove tea recipe above). A pleasant side effect of using the benefits of cloves for mouth pain relief is fresh breath.
Kaempferol is a common ingredient in OTC muscle pain relief creams. Add a few drops of clove oil to a carrier oil (coconut oil is our favorite) and massage into sore muscles for relief with a pleasant scent.
Incredible Antioxidant Benefits of Cloves
All foods are now rated for antioxidant content by the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) table. Your body’s natural oxidation process causes a by-product of mutated cells known as free radicals. Left unchecked, these damaged cells can result in damage to other healthy cells that scientists now know are the source of many chronic illnesses and diseases. The ORAC value rates every food’s ability to destroy free radicals.
Cloves have an incredibly high ORAC value and have the highest concentration of the mineral manganese found in food. They are considered nutrient dense – meaning they provide unusual nutrition for their size and caloric content.
Manganese is and essential nutrient, meaning that your body requires it to live. It is critical to lipid (fat) metabolism and the processing of carbohydrates and protein. This mineral also provides fuel to your mitochondria (the energy source used by every cell in your body), blood health, regulation of cholesterol, and the strength of your bones.
Get Your Clove On!
Cloves are available year-round and store well. Since a little goes a long way, a bottle of cloves or clove oil lasts a long time.
With the weather cooling down and the chance of colds and flus rising, make sure you keep this fragrant spice on hand – in solid form and as an essential oil – to make sure you have immediate access to the benefits of cloves if you wake up with the sniffles…or a throbbing tooth.