What are Cloves
Cloves are one of the spices indigenous to Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and even areas of East Africa. It is native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia. They are a popular flavoring agent used in a variety of ways across the world, particularly in Asia and cloves form a culinary base in a number of different Asian cuisines.
Clove, just like many other spices originating in Asia, has a great history behind it. During the 13th and 14th centuries, cloves were transported all the way from Indonesia to China, India, Persia, Africa, and Europe. During this time, cloves had a very high price, and thus wars for monopoly over clove production and distribution began.
Clove has been used for thousands of years in India and China not only as a spice and condiment but also as a medicine for many ailments.
- Ayurvedic medicine used cloves for tooth decay, halitosis, and bad breath.
- In Chinese medicine, clove was considered to possess aphrodisiac properties.
- Ground cloves are traditionally applied to minor cuts for healing purposes.
- Clove tea is a popular warm beverage to relieve congestion.
- Clove oil helps relieve headaches, flatulence, as well as reduce stretch marks.
- It is also popularly used as a bug and insect repellant. Just add a few drops to water and see them vanish!
Cloves Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the nutrients found in cloves include carbohydrates, protein, energy, and dietary fiber. Minerals in cloves include potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. The vitamins found in them include vitamin E, folate, and niacin. They also contain phosphorus, iron, zinc, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin A and K.
Health Benefits of Cloves
Health benefits of cloves include:
Cloves improve digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Cloves are also good for reducing flatulence, gastric irritability, dyspepsia, and nausea. They can be roasted, powdered, or taken with honey for relief in digestive disorders. The award-winning expert on naturopathy Dr. H.K. Bakhru in his book Herbs that Heal: Natural Remedies for Good Health says, “This herb is also an effective remedy for chronic diarrhea and dysentery.”
Cloves have been tested for their antibacterial properties against a number of human pathogens. The extracts of cloves were potent enough to kill those pathogens. Clove extracts are also effective against the specific bacteria that spread cholera.
Cloves are of interest to the medical community due to their chemo-preventive or anti-carcinogenic properties. A study published in the Oxford Journal: Carcinogenesis has shown that they are helpful in controlling lung cancer at its early stages.  Research suggests that oleanolic acid present in cloves causes antitumor activity and another study showed that eugenol found in cloves has anticancer potential against cervical cancer.
Cloves contain high amounts of antioxidants, which are ideal for protecting the organs from the effects of free radicals, especially the liver. Metabolism, in the long run, increases free radical production and lipid profile, while decreasing the antioxidants in the liver. Clove extracts are helpful in counteracting these effects with its hepatoprotective properties.
Cloves have been used in many traditional remedies for a number of diseases. One such disease is diabetes. In patients suffering from diabetes, the amount of insulin produced by the body is either insufficient, or it is not produced at all. Extracts from cloves imitate insulin in certain ways and help in controlling blood sugar levels.
Side Effects of Cloves
- Clove Oil:Clove oils must not be used directly; insteadthey must be diluted either in olive oil or in distilled water. Clove extract oil is generally considered to be safe, but a study by Dr. Ian Locke, School of Biosciences, University of Westminster, London have revealed that they possess cytotoxic properties. There are two major components present in clove extract oil; eugenol, and B-caryophyllene. These compounds were particularly effective against fibroblasts and endothelial cells.
- Clove Cigarettes:In Indonesia, cloves are consumed on a large scale in the form of cigarettes, popularly known as kreteks. These clove cigarettes have emerged as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but research shows that clove cigarettes are actually worse than conventional cigarettes. In the case of clove cigarettes, the amount of nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar entering into the lungs was higher than that from normal tobacco cigarettes.