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Clove: Medicinal Uses & Health Benefits

Updated on August 7, 2014

In India & other South Asian nations, clove is offered to guests with roasted fennel seeds (saunf) and sugar crystals (mishree) as after-meal digestive and breath freshener. Other common names used to refer clove include Carophyllus, Lavanga,Tropical Myrtle, Clovos and Mother Cloves.

Vernacular names in other Indian languages like Labanga (Bengla, Oriya), Laung (Hindi, Punjabi), Lavangalu (Telgu), Lavangam (Tamil) are used for clove in different states of India. It is a member of Myrtaceae family and known botanically as (Syzygium aromaticum [L.] Merrill & Perry).

Clove is also referred by synonyms Caryophyllus aromaticus & few others names. Tanzania leads in the production of cloves in the World and 'Zanzibar' an island of it is well known for clove production. Other clove producing countries are Brazil, West Indies, Mauritius, Madagaskar, Sri Lanka, India, Molucca and Pemba. The finest cloves produced in Molucca and Pemba are considered of very high quality.

Chemical composition: Flower buds are used for common and medicinal purposes. Cloves have been used by American Eclectic physicians to treat digestive ailments. Eugenol is the main component (70-90%) in the essential oil extracted from cloves and responsible for the aroma of the cloves.

Caryophyllin (a camphor like substance) and eugenin (the flavanoids) are two crystalline components of cloves. Oil quality and quantity extracted from different plant parts vary as buds yield about 17% oil (85% eugenol) considered superior in odor and flavor to oil extracted from other plant parts.

About 6-7% oil from stem and 1.6 - 1.8% oil is extractable from leaves. Approx. 70-80 percent volatile oil content is extractable from crushed spice using organic solvents.

Medicinal uses: Clove is eaten as dry buds to use it as an aphrodisiac. Clove relaxes the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract.

Chemicals present in cloves are reported to improve the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions.

Antimicrobial properties against bacteria and fungi makes it a good choice for using as natural fungicide. It is an important active gradient in preparations used for mouth wash and toothache relief. Clove oil is used as an an oral anesthetic and believed to disinfect root canals.

Complications: Sensitivity test may help people avoid skin irritations if they are allergic to contact with clove oil.

Sensitive people may face breathing problems, rashes or redness of skin and irritation may also occur with clove oil contact.

Overdose of clove oil should be avoided by pregnant women, or by people suffering from gastric ulcers colitis or irritable bowel movements.

Even small quantities of clove supplements should be avoided by children and pregnant women since serious side effects are reported even with small doses.

People with kidney or liver disorders should also avoid use of clove oil since they may have various complications.

Use of clove should be avoided with certain drugs as it may increase the risk of bleeding if taken with warfarin, heparin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen or naproxen.

Common uses:

  • In several regions of the south Asia, people chew clove buds to reduce toothache. Clove oil is often used to stop toothache worldwide. Clove oil is believed to be very effective in relieving nausea and stopping vomiting. It is used to treat acne, warts, scars and parasites.
  • Effectiveness of clove oil is well known against several bacteria(s) including streptococci, staphylococci, and pneumonocci. Clove oil is used as an ingredient of various spice mixtures, curry powders pickles, and sauces.
  • Clove oil is used in a natural herbicide to kill various herbs and protect crop from weeds
  • Clove is used to protect ant damage since it possess repelling characteristics to ants and mosquitoes.

© 2012 C V Singh


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