The clove is the air-dried unopened flower bud obtained from evergreen medium sized tree. The tree grows to a height of 10-12 mtrs and start flowering in about 7 years. It continues to produce flower buds for 80 or more years. It is a valuable spice of the orient. Clove clusters are plucked by hand when the buds are fully developed with a pronounced pink flush and then dried over several days in the sun. Unopened flower buds, leaves and stalks yield essential oil.
The plant is indigenous to North Molucca Islands of Indonesia. It is also grown in Zanzibar, Madagascar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India. The tree prefers well drained rich soil with sufficient soil moisture throughout the year. High atmospheric temperature (25 to 35 degree C) with heavy sun light, good and well-distributed rainfall (above 150 cm) and high humidity (above 70%) are preferred.
The use of clove in whole or ground form is mainly for culinary purposes and as a flavouring agent in food industry. Its flavour blends well with both sweet and savory dishes. It is highly valued in medicine as carminative, aromatic and stimulant. The antiseptic and antibiotic properties of clove oil are used in medicine especially in dentistry, oral and pharyngeal treatments. It offers many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cloves
Aids Digestion: Cloves are known carminative. Clove help stimulate secretion of some digestive enzymes which improve digestion and also reduce flatulence. It may also help in heart burns.
Also read about the benefits of other commonly used spices like Mint, Ginger, Fenugreek, Fennel, Curry Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Coriander, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds, on our digestion and metabolism.
Antibacterial: Cloves have strong antibacterial properties that are potent enough to kill human pathogens. Extracts of clove are effective against bacteria that spreads cholera.
The antibacterial properties of clove extracts can also help reduce skin problems like acne, scars, cuts, rashes etc. while the anti-inflammatory characteristic lessens the redness and swelling of such issues. Clove and its extracts have widely been used in face packs, massage creams, and other beauty products that cure acne.
Protects Liver: Antioxidants in clove extracts are helpful in protecting the organs from free radicals. It aids in increasing metabolism and decreases the production of antioxidants in the liver.
Anti-inflammatory: The eugenol found in cloves has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, cloves also contain pain-killing properties to relieve the pain caused by the inflammation.
Anticarcinogic: Cloves have anticarcinogenic and chemopreventive properties. Cloves have been tested for their anticarcinogenic properties. Cloves can aid in controlling lung cancer in the early stages.
Boost Immunity: Cloves are high in vitamin C which help boost our immune system. Cloves also promote the production of white blood cells and at the same time treat hypersensitivity. They also stimulate the production of white blood cells and lead to better defense against bacterial infections.
Bone Health: Clove buds contain hydroalcoholic extracts like eugenol, flavonoids, isoflavones and flavones. These phenolic compounds aid in preserving bone density, are helpful in increasing the tensile strength of bones and maintain a healthy mineral content for the bones. Also the minerals and vitamins present in clove extracts such as magnesium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and vitamin K help our body absorb calcium from food, thus leading to healthier bones. Clove has anti-inflammatory properties and hence is used in the treatment of joint pain or for patients with arthritis.
Controls Diabetes: Extracts from cloves imitate insulin in certain ways and maintains sugar levels in the body.
Treats respiratory infections & common cold: It is an excellent expectorant that loosens mucus in the esophagus and throat to help us cough it out. Its antimicrobial properties kill the pathogens that can lead to throat infections and congestion in the chest.
Other commonly used home remedies which can help the symptoms of respiratory health and asthma are Mint, Ginger, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Coriander, Cinnamon, Chilies, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds.
Oral Health: Cloves contain biochemicals that have pain killer properties and are beneficial for gum diseases such as gingivitis, and the extracts are effective in inhibiting the growth of pathogens. It is widely used in tooth pastes. It helps in painful gums, swelling, tooth ache and bad breath.
Relieves Stress: Cloves have a calming effect on the nerves which can be helpful in stress related problems. This induces the production of hormones which regulate the stress level and uplift the mood.
Treats Hair Loss and dandruff: It helps to refresh the hair color and add the natural shine to our hair. Clove helps in the color conditioning of hair. Also cloves is useful for hair growth and thicken hair and reduce baldness.
Cures Headache and Migraine: The presence of eugenol in cloves makes it an excellent alternative to painkilling medicine which is usually used to treat headaches.
Prevent Stomach Ulcers: Clove contain certain compounds which can help in treating painful ulcers which emerge in the stomach. These are often caused by a thinning of the lining which exposes the delicate tissue underneath.
Reduces Cholesterol Levels: Cloves help to reduce the concentration of cholesterol in our blood significantly.
Aphrodisiac: Cloves are also known to have aphrodisiac properties.
Having said that it is advisable to use them in moderate quantity only, excessive use may cause adverse effects. Should be used under medical supervision only.