Cloves are the dried, flower bud of the evergreen tree, Eugenia aromatica. While the tree is indigenous to the Maluka Islands of Indonesia, cloves also grow naturally in India, the West Indies, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Madagascar. For over 2,000 years, Indian and Chinese traditional medicine has made extensive use of cloves and clove oil. Arabic traders brought the buds to Europe in the 4th century. During the 7th and 8th centuries in Europe, cloves became popular as a food preservative. Today, cloves are in the spice rack of most homes and evidence supporting their use as a therapeutic remedy against harmful organisms continues to grow.
What Makes Cloves Effective?
Cloves are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, the component responsible for clove’s powerful effects and odor is a substance called eugenol. Eugenol is toxic against harmful organisms, including fungus, and may even relieve discomfort.  
Cloves and Harmful Organisms
Research has repeatedly shown that cloves and eugenol are effective at establishing an environment that is not friendly to harmful organisms. When Portuguese researchers evaluated eugenol against giardia, they observed it inhibited giardia growth and may offer potential as a natural therapy against giardiasis. 
Clove, wintergreen, cinnamon, and peppermint are just some of the many essential oils that have demonstrated action against bacteria, fungus, and yeast, including candida.   An interesting practical application for this has been evaluated in Japan where researchers believe that spices like clove may offer seafood a level of protection against certain harmful organisms. 
More than just an annoyance, insects like mosquitoes can be carriers of diseases. Many bug repellant sprays contain chemical toxins, such as DEET. According to Duke University School of Nursing, clove oil can be a natural insect repellant for persons who want to avoid conventional, toxic options.  Research conducted by Thailand’s Mahidol University also found clove oil to be extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. 
Other Benefits of Cloves
Many diseases are caused by free radicals and oxidative damage. Antioxidants defend against oxidative damage and plants are often among the best sources of antioxidants. Along with sage and oregano, cloves contain highly beneficial, health-promoting antioxidants. 
Clove oil offers a powerful action against gas and bloating. It reduces gas pressure in the stomach, aiding in the proper elimination of food and toxins. It also relieves the discomfort of peptic ulcers and is effective against nausea, hiccups, motion sickness and vomiting.
Clove oil, which encourages healthy teeth and gums, is a traditional remedy for relieving toothache, sore gums and oral ulcers. 
In Asia, the incidence of some diseases is lower than in western nations. The culinary styles in Asia also use a heavy amount of spices such as turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. Why does this matter? According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, these spices, which are resistant to swelling, may provide hope against brain diseases which are, at least partially, attributable to chronic redness. 
Supplementing With Cloves
Cloves have a strong flavor and tough texture that doesn’t really make them the best stand alone snack food, which can make it tough to consume cloves on a daily basis. There are a few ways around this though. Ground cloves, or oil, can be inserted into empty capsules and swallowed with ease. Some people also like to add clove (and cinnamon) to smoothies. Aside from the health benefits, this can add a real flavor punch.
When you’re looking to herbs, spices, and foods for health benefits (which should be always), it’s important to always choose organic whenever possible; because cloves are so appreciated, they are widely available in organic form.
How do you enjoy supplementing with cloves? What benefits have you noticed? Leave a comment and let us know!
- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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