This week’s herb is the clove! We probably know cloves best for their inclusion in the Thanksgiving or Christmas ham or some other delicacy, but did you know how many other amazing uses there are for this herb?
While cloves are not “forgeable” in the same way that purple dead nettle and violets are, it is pretty easy to get your hands on. And that’s why I include it here.
I am not a doctor and do not recommend any remedies in any way as an alternative to medical care. If you are having serious health problems, be sure to consult a physician.
The clove tree is tropical and evergreen, of the Myrtaceae family. The tree is about 25 to 40 feet tall with simple, small leaves. If planted from seeds in a shady area, the clove tree will start to flower in its fifth year. Once mature, each tree can produce as much as 75 pounds of dried buds each year!
The cloves come from the flower buds, which are small and reddish-brown in color. They have a strong, pungent taste and aroma and are known to be indigenous to Indonesia. More specifically, the Spice Islands. Each bud contains up to 20% essential oil, which is a major component of eugenol.
Eugenol is primarily used for perfumes, mouthwash, vanillin synthesis, germicides, and sweeteners. It’s also the reason the cloves smell so strongly.
Can You Grow Your Own Cloves?
Gardening sites will give you plenty of information about growing clove trees. However, it would help if you remembered that these trees are native to areas of the world that are wet and tropical. That means they will grow best in regions that mimic those conditions.
Conditions that gardening gurus consider “ideal” for growing cloves is an area that gets an average of 60 inches of rain each year. Temps can fall no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, most commercial clove growers open plantations that are within ten degrees of the equator.
Uses for Cloves
As I mentioned earlier, cloves are a spice that is easily attainable at any grocery store, with organic options available if you prefer. You can purchase cloves as a whole clove or as ground cloves, which is a powder you can add to various dishes and drinks. Some of the most common usages of the clove are holiday spiced dishes, wassail (a medieval drink that is cooked and served), and mincemeat.
But there are medicinal uses of cloves as well, and they are mentioned on a wide variety of health and wellness websites.
General Health Benefits
Cloves contain a good amount of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that converts into vitamin A. Here are some of the most notable health benefits that come from the clove:
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces free radicals
- Protects your stomach from ulcers
- Improves liver function
- Relaxes the intestinal lining for better digestion
One of the most commonly known uses of clove and clove oil, in particular, is a toothache remedy. It controls pain when applied directly to the gum area surrounding the affected tooth or abscess. The best way to accomplish this is by soaking a cotton ball in clove oil and placing it against the tooth or gum area for up to 20 minutes at a time.
I know this particular method works because I’ve used it myself, and so has my son, who had his two front teeth rebuilt when he was young. He had fallen in the gym at his school and knocked them both out, right after his mature teeth had come in. They did a double root canal and rebuilt the teeth, but those root canals failed multiple times, causing excruciatingly painful abscesses. A combination and clove oil and moistened tea bags are the ONLY things that worked for him!
Other known medicinal benefits can include:
- It slows the growth of cancerous tumors and slows cell multiplication.
- Useful in treating high blood sugar
- Has anti-bacterial properties
- Quiets an upset stomach
- Reduces phlegm, has expectorant properties, and quiets a severe cough.
- It kills parasites and bacteria in the digestive tract
- Effective treatment for worms
- Clears sinuses and passageways for better breathing
Side-Effects of Cloves
While there are many great uses for the clove in your daily recipes, there are also some things you should know about its overuse or extended use.
The most important thing to know is that the eugenol in the clove can interact with certain medications, such as Warfarin. If you take any medication to thin your blood, be cautious of clove oil or clove tea, which contain the highest eugenol levels. However, it is still safe to consume small amounts of the spice, even if taking these medications, especially if they are simply additions to a recipe.
If you have low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, excessive amounts of clove, especially in oil or tea form, can cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low. On the other hand, if you have diabetes and your blood sugar is normally too high, cloves can bring your blood glucose level to safer counts.
Essential oils can cause respiratory, eye, and skin irritation as well as allergic reactions if you have an allergy.
Essential oil toxicity occurs if too much essential oil is used or consuming pure clove oil directly. The latter can cause dizziness and even coma if too much is taken, so be very careful to follow any directions you have been given.
Now that you know everything cloves are good for, you obviously want to know more about putting them to use! I recommend using it in dishes and making tea at least once or twice a day for general wellness, as I try to incorporate it as often as I can in my own life and my family’s.
For tea, add a dash or two of clove powder to any tea concoction. For instance, for stomachache or stomach upset, I always make a tea using a few slices of (2-3) of fresh or dehydrated ginger, a teaspoon of dried purple dead nettle leaves, and a good dash of clove powder. There’s literally nothing better for an upset stomach, stomachache, or nausea.
Below are a few more resources for great clove use.
Thanks for Joining Me!
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