Typically when you think of cloves you might think of the common spice that is in most kitchens and you would be right. But what we don't often think of is "Clove bud" the powerful medicinal herb with centuries of therapeutic use. Here we will discover the history and the research behind this incredible plant.
We use cloves as part of our herbal detox program because of its anti-parasitic and soothing effects.
Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is one of the world's most valuable spices and has been used for centuries as a food preservative and for many medicinal purposes.
Clove is native of Indonesia but nowadays is cultured in several parts of the world including Brazil in the state of Bahia. This plant represents one of the richest sources of phenolic compounds such as eugenol, eugenol acetate and gallic acid and possesses great potential for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and agricultural applications. (1)
Clove is an important medicinal plant due to the wide range of pharmacological effects consolidated from traditional use for centuries and reported in literature. The employment of clove as analgesic have been reported since the 13th century for toothache, join pain and antispasmodic, eugenol being the main compound responsible for this activity.
With regard to the phenolic acids, gallic acid is the compound found in highest concentration. Other phenolic acids found in clove are the caffeic, ferulic, elagic and salicylic acids. Flavonoids as kaempferol, quercetin and its derivates (glycosilated) are also found in clove in lower concentrations.
Concentrations up to 18% of essential oil can be found in the clove flower buds. Roughly, 89% of the clove essential oil is eugenol and 5% to 15% is eugenol acetate and β-cariofileno. Another important compound found in the essential oil of clove in concentrations up to 2.1% is α-humulen. Other volatile compounds present in lower concentrations in clove essential oil are β-pinene, limonene, farnesol, benzaldehyde, 2-heptanone and ethyl hexanoate.
Clove has been used to soothe and relax the inner lining of the intestines, encouraging better digestion. Great for an upset stomach especially in children.
Cloves may encourage the esophagus to produce more liquid phlegm and act as an expectorant, making dry coughs less severe and more positive.
Clove has been shown to have analgesic properties, particularly towards tooth pain. Powdered clove or clove oil can be rubbed directly to the gum.
Clove has widely been used as an antimicrobial agent, killing parasites and bacteria in the digestive tract.
It has been known help to relieve excessive gas bloating.
Because of cloves analgesic effect the oil is applied topically to help relieve the pain of rheumatism and arthritis. (7)
In one study Clove powder demonstrated potent anthelmintic activity in vitro towards earthworms. At this time earthworms were used as a model to investigate anthelmintic (worm killing) activity.
Suspension of clove powder was more than 5 times more potent than a water extract of cloves and clove powder was 4.5 times more potent than powdered fresh garlic. Suspension of clove powder was 7.3 times more active than the anthelmintic drug piperazine, whereas the water extract of clove was of similar potency. (2) Piperazine is an anthelmintic drug which has been used to treat pinworm and roundworm infections in humans for decades.
Another study showed both the water and methanol extracts of clove bud were strongly active in a nematocidal assay. (3) The assay used the second-stage larva of Toxocara canis (roundworm), which at the time of the study was highly resistant to anthelmintic drugs.
Clove oil killed Anisakis spp. larva in vitro. (4) Eugenol also demonstrated potent anthelmintic activity towards Caenorhabditis elegans in vitro (5) and Rhabditis macrocerca and Ascaris suum in vitro and in vivo in mice (route unknown). (6)
Among spices, clove showed the highest content of polyphenols and antioxidant compounds. (1)
The antimicrobial activities of clove have been proved against several bacteria strains such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus. (1)
On study determined the antifungic activity of clove oil on many different strains of fingi. The analyses showed that eugenol was the main compound responsible for the antifungic activity due to lysis of the spores and micelles. Results also suggest that eugenol could be a promising antifungal agent for treatment for vaginal candida (1)
The antiviral activity of eugeniin from clove and from Geum japonicum, was tested effective against herpes virus strains by the inhibition of the viral DNA sythesis. (1)
After several years of intensive research, various molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of cancer have been identified. (1)
- Powdered cloves can be taken in capsule form 3-6 cloves daily as needed for up to 6 weeks for parasite treatment.
- 6 cloves crushed makes 2-3 cups of herbal tea to give immediate relief of stomach pain or nausea.
- 2-3 drops of Clove oil applied to toothache or joint pain.
I am always amazed at the evidence when researching herbs, and surprised by how science supports thousands of years of tradition. It is great to know that the knowledge of ancient herbalists was correct and is now finally being validated.
Cloves deserve a place among the great healing herbs like wormwood and golden seal which are my favorites. With the combination of benefits above such as anit-parasitic, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral it is no wonder cloves makes you feel great.
I have included cloves in a couple of my products especially designed to support healthy digestive function.
You can use either these to start your body on a path of better digestion or your bi-annual elimination of parasites.
Use cloves 2 or even 3 times a year for good maintenance.
Thanks for reading
Brett Elliott ®
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(1) Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819475/
(2) Krishnakumari MK, Majumder SK. J Sci Indust Res 1960; 19C: 202-204
(3) Kiuchi F, Nakamura N, Miyashita N et al. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 1989; 43(4): 279-287
(4) Oishi K, Mori K, Nishiura Y. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 1974; 40(12): 1241-1250
(5) Asha MK, Prashanth D, Murali B et al. Fitoterapia 2001; 72(6): 669-670
(6) Valette G, Cavier R, Debelmas J. Ann Pharm Franc 1953; 11: 649-653