encyclopedia

Clove

Scientific Names:    

Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. et L.M. Perry or Eugenia caryophyllata Thunb. or Caryophylli aromatici L. [Fam. Myrtaceae]
    
     
Forms:    

Volatile oil extracted from the unopened flower bud. Dried whole or ground buds are used for culinary purposes.    
     

Traditional Usage:    

– Altitude Sickness
– Antibacterial
– Antifungal
– Antimicrobial
– Antioxidant
– Antiseptic
– Appetite Stimulant
– Bad Breath
– Blood Sugar Control
– Bone and Joint Pain
– Bunions
– Earache
– Eczema
– Expectorant
– Hyperglycemia
– Indigestion
– Macular Degeneration
– Nausea
– Pain
– Toothache
– Worms
– Wounds     
     
    
Overview:    

Clove, Syzygium aromaticum (L.) MERR. et L.M. PERRY [Fam. Myrtaceae], is a small-to medium-size tropical evergreen tree of the myrtle family native to the Moluccas, eastern Indonesia. Clove is also the name given to the trees' dark brown, pungently spicy dried flower buds, commonly used as a powerful antioxidant spice. The German Commission E approves the internal use of cloves for treating inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, as well as for topical use in dentistry as an analgesic to alleviate pain. The essential oil has significant antibacterial activity and is also used undiluted as an antiseptic in dentistry. Cloves are also used as a digestive aid, often in combination with other digestive herbs, for alleviating flatulence and as a tonic. Jean Carper, in Food Your Miracle Medicine, notes the powerful anti-aggregative activity of clove against blood clots. Dr. Krishna Srivastava of Odense University in Denmark screened eleven spices and found that seven discouraged blood platelet aggregation, with clove being the most potent and even stronger than aspirin. Additionally, cloves help to protect the structure of platelets even after they have been aggregated, due to beneficial effects on the prostaglandin system, similar to aspirin, garlic and onions. Dr. James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, also notes the use of cloves for treating altitude sickness, bad breath, bunions, diabetes, macular degeneration, pain, worms and wounds. Blood thinning properties of clove make it potentially useful for preventing altitude sickness, and anesthetic activity may provide relief for bunion sufferers. Clove was also traditionally used as a breath freshener and can be used in mouthwashes. Studies show that cloves help the body to utilize insulin more efficiently and that it helps prevent the breakdown of docosahexaenoic acid in the retina – a function that may preserve vision in old age.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Clove contains: 15-20% or more of essential oil (Oleum Caryophylli) with eugenol as the main component (85-95%); flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol; ca. 10% fixed oil; tannin; phenol carboxylic acids including gallic acid and protocatechuic acid; small amounts of sterols and sterol glycosides; gum; resin; fiber; water; and two crystalline principles called caryophyllin (C20H32O) and eugenin (C10H12O2). In summary, clove oil is rich in eugenol, a compound noted for its analgesic, anesthetic, anti-aggregant, anti-candidiasis, antiedemic, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiulcer, cancer-preventive, choleretic, cytotoxic, anti-fever, anti-fungal, sedative and vermifuge activity.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

In mouthwashes, 1-5% of essential oil is used, or equivalent with cloves or clove powder. For preserving vision, Dr. Duke recommends using one or two drops of clove oil added to antioxidant mint teas and enjoying up to four cups per day. Alternatively, add one to three drops of oil to sugar or other foods. In dentistry, the undiluted oil is applied to the affected area.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None Known    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None Known    
     
    
Side Effects:    

May provoke gastro-enteritis if taken in large doses.    
     
    
References:    

Carper, J. 1993. Food Your Miracle Medicine. HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022-5299. Pp. 80-81.
 
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 15; 43-44; 97; 127; 202-203; 389; 421; 515-516; 553; 187. Rodale Press.
 
Duke JA. 1992. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and their Activities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 59-60.
 
Sladky KK, Swanson CR, Stoskopf MK, Loomis MR, Lewbart GA. 2001. Comparative efficacy of tricaine methanesulfonate and clove oil for use as anesthetics in red pacu (Piaractus brachypomus). Am J Vet Res. 2001 Mar; 62(3): 337-42.
 
Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Caryophylli flos – Clove. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 130-131.