Cloves are a festive warming spice and very nutrient dense. It is a food that is highest in the mineral, manganese. Two teaspoons (4.2 grams)* of clove powder provides 127% of an adult’s daily nutritional value of manganese. This mineral helps with blood sugar control although there is no evidence that deficiency of manganese leads to diabetes. Manganese is a co-factor to superoxide dismutase a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to our cells. One of the main active constituents of clove spice is eugenol, which is a compound responsible for many of the mechanisms of action.
*It should be noted that there have been episodes of toxicity, so use caution especially with children.
People have historically used clove oil or clove spice for dyspepsia, diarrhea, hernia, halitosis (bad breath), mosquito repellent, ant repellent, and as an expectorant.
Clove oil has been used for relieving toothaches and dental pain. There are even scientific studies on the use of a multi-ingredient cream for premature ejaculation containing clove flowers, which resulted in improved ejaculation latency versus a placebo. Preliminary clinical studies suggest that cloves combined with zinc oxide compared with the analgesic/anesthetic gel-benzocaine 20% when applied topically in the gums to reduce pain prior to a needle stick. The combination of Clove oil and its main constituent, eugenol, has been used for toothache pain but the FDA recently labeled it as insufficient treatment.
Clove spice also has antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Due to this antimicrobial activity, clove is an important ingredient in the popular essential oil, Thieves® essential oil. My husband recently used a tiny dab of Thieves® oil on a cold sore and it healed nicely and twice as fast as other prior treatments.
The Thieves® oil is named after some fourteenth-century French thieves who formulated a blend of herbs and spices that they used for protection while robbing the dead and those dying of the bubonic plague.
Botanically, the clove tree is an evergreen native to Indonesia. The clove bud is originally a bright pinkish red color during harvest time that turns into a rich dark brown color when dried. Clove buds can be ground to use as a spice for baking or kept whole and used in a spiced cider with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Other interesting uses for the clove buds are as an ingredient in a fragrance pomander as you can see me holding it in the picture above. I made that pomander when I was a young girl, and although the scent has faded, it has lasted for 15 years! A pomander is a traditional European and American Colonial craft. It can be easily made and smells delicious!
- Take a medium-sized orange and using a toothpick or small nail, poke an arrangement of holes all over.
- Next stud the orange by pushing the dried cloves into some of the pre-made holes.
- Leave some space for a ribbon and tie it around the pomander
- Let it hang-dry in a cool dark place for one week until it is completely dried out. Dried pomanders will last for years!
Choi HK, Jung GW, Moon KH, et al. Clinical study of SS-Cream in patients with lifelong premature ejaculation. Urology 2000;55:257-61.
Dyrbye, B. A., Dubois, L., Vink, R., and Horn, J. A patient with clove oil intoxication. Anaesth.Intensive Care 2012;40(2):365-366.
el Naghy, M. A., Maghazy, S. N., Fadl-Allah, E. M., and el Gendy, Z. K. Fungistatic action of natural oils and fatty acids on dermatophytic and saprophytic fungi. Zentralbl.Mikrobiol. 1992;147(3-4):214-220.
Jayashankar, S., Panagoda, G. J., Amaratunga, E. A., Perera, K., and Rajapakse, P. S. A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study on the effects of a herbal toothpaste on gingival bleeding, oral hygiene and microbial variables. Ceylon Med.J 2011;56(1):5-9.
Santoro, G. F., Cardoso, M. G., Guimaraes, L. G., Mendonca, L. Z., and Soares, M. J. Trypanosoma cruzi: activity of essential oils from Achillea millefolium L., Syzygium aromaticum L. and Ocimum basilicum L. on epimastigotes and trypomastigotes. Exp.Parasitol. 2007;116(3):283-290.
Tragoolpua, Y. and Jatisatienr, A. Anti-herpes simplex virus activities of Eugenia caryophyllus (Spreng.) Bullock & S. G. Harrison and essential oil, eugenol. Phytother.Res. 2007;21(12):1153-1158.
Trongtokit, Y., Rongsriyam, Y., Komalamisra, N., and Apiwathnasorn, C. Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytother Res 2005;19(4):303-309.
Yarnell E and Abascal E. Herbal Support for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections. Alternative & Complementary Therapies (England) 2009;15:189-195.