What are cloves?

Like many other spices, cloves are available throughout the year. Cloves are the pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. The buds are picked when they are pink and dried until they turn dark brown. Their English name is derived from the Latin word clavus, meaning nail. Clove's strong aromatic flavor adds a spicy warmth to any dishes. However, it ought to be used sparingly, as its powerful flavor can overwhelm a dish. Although cloves have a very hard outside, their flesh features an oily compound that's crucial to their nutrient and flavor profile.

Clove is the dried flower buds of this Syzygium aromaticum tree, indigenous to Indonesia. You can find whole or ground form cloves in the spice section and its oil form in the essential oils.

Clove is a hot aromatic with origins in Ayurvedic medicine. Here are some science-backed advantages of working clove in your diet.

- Cloves are teeming with antioxidants that help fight free radical damage and boost our immunity. The oil obtained from the clove is a fantastic source of a chemical called eugenol.

- The powerful germicidal properties of clove help fight toothache, sore gums, and ulcers.

- Cloves can also help regulate glucose levels. A study published in Journal Natural Medicine analyzed the hypoglycaemic effects of cloves on diabetic rats and found promising results.

- Cloves are also enriched with antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. The anti-inflammatory chemicals help heal sore throats, cough, and cold, and headache.

The eugenol within the clove helps facilitate digestion; healthful digestion is essential to successful weight loss.

- Clove also will help rev up metabolism naturally.

See: Ayurvedic medicine to lower blood sugar

Cloves nutrition facts

Nutritional Profile of cloves

Cloves are a superb source of manganese, vitamin K and dietary fiber. They're also a great source of iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Cloves, ground

2.00 tsp

(4.20 g )

Calories: 12

GI: really low

Nutrient DRI/DV

- manganese 110 %

- vitamin K 7 %

- fiber 5 %

- calcium3 %

- iron3 %

- magnesium 3 %

See: Fatty Liver Disease Reversed with Ayurvedic Treatment for a 54 Year Old Male

Health benefits of cloves

Clove Benefits

Clove comprises significant amounts of an active ingredient called eugenol, which has made it the subject of numerous health studies, including studies on preventing toxicity from environmental pollutants such as carbon tetrachloride, digestive tract infections, and joint inflammation. In the US, eugenol extracts from cloves have often been used in dentistry, root canal treatment, temporary fillings, and common gum disease. Eugenol and other cloves (such as beta-caryophyllene) combine to create clove, a mild anesthetic in addition to an antibacterial agent. You will also find clove oil in certain over-the-counter sore throat sprays and mouthwashes for all these beneficial effects.

Clove's medicinal properties are well known in Ayurveda for centuries, and modern science documents a few of those benefits. If you eat it whole, ground, or as an oil infusion, here are the top benefits of using clove:

- May help balance blood sugar

Animal research has implied that clove may promote lower blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.  And while the study in people is still preliminary, it is promising. In one little study, 1-3 g of clove each day for 30 days was sufficient to assist patients with diabetes manage risk factors such as glucose and cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.  In a different preliminary trial, healthy adults who supplemented with a clove extract found it helped maintain balanced blood sugar levels.  Researchers associate this result due to its manganese, which plays a role in insulin production.

- Good for bone health. 

As a spice, you may not think clove has much to offer in the way of nourishment, but it's, in fact, packed with the fundamental bone-building nutrient manganese. Only one teaspoon of clove comprises over 50 percent of their daily adequate intake levels recommended by the FDA. Manganese is a mineral which, together with calcium, is critical for bone formation and density. Additionally, it plays an essential role in enzyme activation, which can help support metabolism, wound healing, and neurotransmitter production. 

- Can heal toothaches. 

Cloves have been used in Ayurvedic formulations for sore mouths. That is because eugenol, a chemical-specific to clove, is a powerful analgesic.  In one study, subjects who used a eugenol-based paste following dental work experienced significantly less inflammation, pain, and disease than patients who had used a regular topical pain reliever or nothing in any way.  You can try by placing a few drops of diluted clove oil onto a cotton ball on the affected area. Clove has been proven to help manage gingivitis and plaque.

- Full of antioxidants.

As one of the top 100 sources of antioxidants and polyphenols, cloves ranked No. 1 in seasonings in antioxidant concentration. Antioxidants are crucial in fighting free radical caused damage, making cells prone to chronic disease and other aging signs. In laboratory studies, clove extract's antioxidant properties have been shown to slow tumor growth and promote cell death.

- Anti-Inflammatory Activity

Eugenol, the principal part of the clove's volatile oils, acts as an anti-inflammatory substance. In animal research, the inclusion of clove extract to diets high in anti-inflammatory elements can help bring additional benefits and further reduce inflammatory symptoms by another 15-30%. Clove also comprises an assortment of flavonoids, such as kaempferol and rhamnetin, contributing to clove's anti-inflammatory (and antioxidant) properties.

- Nutrient-Dense Spice

Like its fellow spices, clove's unique phytonutrient elements are accompanied by an unbelievable range of traditionally-recognized nutrients. Cloves are a superb source of manganese, a rich source of vitamin K and dietary fiber, and a potent iron, magnesium, and calcium source.

- May help Hair health:

Clove bud oil can be used for preventing hair loss, keeping the hair's luster, vibrant color, and hair conditioning. It is ideal for the scalp due to its antifungal, antiseptic, and anesthetic properties that can treat dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and other scalp disorders when blended with olive oil or coconut oil. The antioxidants of clove oil can help to improve circulation in the scalp and consequently work to stimulate fresh healthier hair growth. Eugenol refreshes and enriches your hair's natural color. Cloves are natural and a simple solution for keeping the hair and scalp wash, which is the reason why they're often formulated in shampoo, conditioner, and hair coloring agents. Clove oil scalp massages may help scalp conditions like dandruff.

See: Natural inflammation remedies for chronic pain

How to store & prepare

Although cloves have a very difficult outside, their flesh features an oily compound crucial to their nutrient and flavor profile. Cloves have a hot, sweet, and aromatic flavor that evokes the tropical climates where they're grown.

- History

Cloves are native to the Moluccas, previously known as the Spice Islands of Indonesia. They've been consumed in Asia for over 2,000 years. They have been cultivated almost exclusively in Indonesia, now the major clove-producing area in Zanzibar in Eastern Africa. Besides these two areas, cloves are also grown commercially in the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, Pemba, and Brazil.

- How to store

Cloves can be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool and dry location. Ground cloves will keep for around six months, while whole cloves will remain fresh for approximately one year saved this way. 

- How to prepare

Since cloves have a very intense taste, particularly the ones that have been ground, care must be taken when determining how much to use in a recipe to not overpower the other ingredients' flavors. The simplest way to grind whole cloves to a powder would be to use a coffee grinder.


See: Ayurvedic treatment for dental bone loss

Precautions & side effects

- When used for culinary purposes, clove is usually safe to consume. However, in bigger doses, like an oil infusion or supplement, there may be adverse consequences. The World Health Organization warns the acceptable daily intake of clove oil is 2.5 mg/kg of body fat.

- Essential oils, such as jojoba oil, are incredibly potent, making sure to dilute it with a carrier oil. 

- Children shouldn't consume clove oil. Additionally, eugenol, the pain-relieving chemical in clove, can lead to blood clotting problems, so those who have bleeding disorders or forthcoming surgeries should prevent clove oil. Always check in with your physician before adding medicinal herbs and essential oils into your routine.

- Skin application: Clove oil containing clove flower is generally safe when applied directly to the skin. However, application of clove oil directly in the mouth or on the teeth can occasionally cause damage to the gums, tooth pulp, skin, and mucous membranes. Application of coconut oil or lotion into the skin can occasionally cause burning and irritation of the skin.

See: Ayurvedic and Holistic approaches in dental treatments

References

1. Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.

2. Ghelardini C, Galeotti N, Di Cesare Mannelli L, et al. Local anesthetic activity of beta-caryophyllene. Farmaco 2001 May-2001 Jul 31;56(5-7):387-9. 2001. PMID:12570.

3. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York. 1971.

4. Krishnaswamy K, Raghuramulu N. Bioactive phytochemicals with emphasis on dietary practices. Indian J Med Res 1998 Nov;108:167-81. 1998. PMID:12540.

5. Friedman M, Henika PR, Mandrell RE. Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils & some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. J Food Prot 2002 Oct;65(10):1545-60. 2002.

6. Amaechi BT, Higham SM, Edgar WM. Techniques for the production of dental eroded lesions in vitro. J Oral Rehabil 1999 Feb;26(2):97-102. 1999. PMID:12580.

7. Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.

8. Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.

9. Kuroda M, Mimaki Y, Ohtomo T, Yamada J, Nishiyama T, Mae T, Kishida H, Kawada T. Hypoglycemic effects of clove (Syzygium aromaticum flower buds) on genetically diabetic KK-Ay mice and identification of the active ingredients. J Nat Med. 2012 Apr;66(2):394-9. doi: 10.1007/s11418-011-0593-z. Epub 2011 Oct 11. PMID: 21987283.

10. Ali S, Prasad R, Mahmood A, et al. Eugenol-rich Fraction of Syzygium aromaticum (Clove) Reverses Biochemical and Histopathological Changes in Liver Cirrhosis and Inhibits Hepatic Cell Proliferation. J Cancer Prev. 2014;19(4):288-300. doi:10.15430/JCP.2014.19.4.288

11. Palacios C. The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(8):621-8. doi: 10.1080/10408390500466174. PMID: 17092827.

12. Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59. doi: 10.1021/jf051513y. PMID: 16190627.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

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