The Health Benefits of Cloves

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Some of the benefits of cloves come from a phytochemical called eugenol.

Cloves are the dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. While the tree is indigenous to the Maluka Islands of Indonesia, cloves are now found 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 first brought the fragrant buds to Europe in the fourth century. It wasn’t until the seventh and eighth centuries that cloves became popular as a food preservative in Europe. Today, cloves are found in spice racks and grocery stores throughout the world, and a growing body of scientific evidence supports their use as a natural remedy against harmful microorganisms.

Cloves Quick Facts
Scientific Name Syzygium aromaticum
Family Myrtaceae
Origin Indonesia
Health Benefits Antioxidants, Soothes, Resists Harmful Organisms, Digestive Support
Common Uses Cooking Spice and Traditional Medicine

Cloves Resist Harmful Organisms

Cloves contain eugenol, a powerful phytochemical that offers many benefits and is also responsible for cloves’ distinct odor. Research has repeatedly shown that cloves and eugenol are effective at establishing an environment that is resistant to harmful organisms.[1, 2] When Portuguese researchers evaluated eugenol against harmful organisms that target the gut, they observed that eugenol might offer potential as a natural therapy for promoting balance.[3]

Clove, wintergreen, cinnamon, and peppermint are just some of the many essential oils that have demonstrated action against harmful organisms, including Candida.[4, 5] An interesting practical application of this benefit is common in Japan where researchers believe that spices like cloves protect seafood dishes against microbes that cause foodborne illnesses.[6]

More than just an annoyance, insects like mosquitoes carry disease. Unfortunately, many bug repellant sprays contain toxic chemicals, such as DEET. According to Duke University, clove oil is a natural insect repellant for those who want to avoid harsh, chemical deterrents.[7] Research conducted by Thailand’s Mahidol University found clove oil to be extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes.[8]

Cloves Have Antioxidant Activity

The oxidative damage caused by free radicals wreaks havoc that can interrupt cellular function and affect your health and how you feel. Antioxidants defend against oxidative damage and spices are among the best sources of antioxidants. Like sage and oregano, cloves contain concentrated stores of antioxidants that encourage normal aging and immune system function and support cellular integrity at its most basic level.[9, 10]

Cloves Support Digestive Health

Clove oil can relieve occasional gas and bloating. It reduces gas pressure in the stomach and supports the proper elimination of waste. It may relieve stomach discomfort and can be effective against nausea, hiccups, motion sickness and vomiting.

Cloves Promote Oral Health

Clove oil, which encourages healthy teeth and gums, is a traditional remedy for relieving toothache, sore gums, and oral discomfort. With an action similar to capsaicin, the eugenol in cloves depresses the sensitivity of receptors that register discomfort. For even more soothing action, cloves contain beta-caryophyllene, which has a fast-acting (but short-lived) effect against discomfort.[10]

Cloves Encourage Normal Blood Sugar

In animal studies, cloves were found to promote normal blood sugar in mice,[11, 12] an effect that warrants further investigation in human trials. It appears one of the many compounds in cloves supports normal sugar formation in the liver.[10]

Cloves Are Ideal for Bone Support

In one study, researchers found that eugenol in dried cloves helped preserve bone density, reduce bone loss, and protect bone tensile strength in mice. This evidence serves as a catalyst for the idea that cloves may have support normal bone health in human.[13] More research is necessary to validate this notion.

Other Benefits of Cloves

In Asia, the incidence of some diseases is lower than in western nations. The culinary styles in Asia also use a heavy hand with spices such as turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. These spices, which can soothe irritation, may support normal brain health even in the face of aging.[14]

Tips for Growing Cloves

Growing cloves is a challenging endeavor, and you’ll need a lot of patience to get to your harvest. Going from seed to the first harvest takes 15 to 20 years. If you’re still determined to grow cloves, make sure you live in a tropical zone—zones 10 and 11 to be specific. Though the tree will grow in subtropical zones, it may not flower, which, unfortunately, means it won’t produce cloves.

To start growing cloves, soak the whole clove fruit in water overnight to remove the fruit flesh from the seeds. The seeds must be moist or come inside the clove fruit to be viable. You cannot grow from dry seeds. After removing the fruit, “plant” the shorn seeds either by barely covering or just leaving the seeds uncovered on top of your germinating medium. Young trees are very thirsty in the first years, so make sure you water often. They should remain in the germinating medium for about six months until they’re hardy enough plant in soil. Finally, plant the seedling in an area where it is protected from the wind.

After planting cloves, you’ll need to water often to keep the plant hydrated and healthy. Around the sixth or seventh year, the tree should yield a few flower buds, but around year 15 you should have enough buds for your first legitimate harvest. To harvest, pick the buds before they open. Once a bud has started turning pink, it’s too late to harvest. Dry your fresh-picked cloves in the sun for a few days until they’ve lost over 50 percent of their weight and turned brown.

Supplementing With Cloves

Cloves have a strong flavor and thorny texture that prevents their enjoyment as a snack food. But, don’t let that keep you from incorporating them into your diet. Try to add clove (and cinnamon) to smoothies or your morning coffee to bump up the flavor. You can also add ground cloves, or clove oil, to empty capsules. Organic cloves are readily available in most grocery stores, spice shops, and online.

Have you tried cooking or supplementing with cloves? What benefits have you noticed? Leave a comment and let us know!

References (14)
  1. He M, Du M, Fan M, Bian Z. "In vitro activity of eugenol against Candida albicans biofilms." Mycopathologia. 2007 Mar;163(3):137-43. Epub 2007 Mar 14.
  2. Pinto E, Vale-Silva L, Cavaleiro C, Salgueiro L. "Antifungal activity of the clove essential oil from Syzygium aromaticum on Candida, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species." J Med Microbiol. 2009 Nov;58(Pt 11):1454-62. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.010538-0. Epub 2009 Jul 9.
  3. Machado M, Dinis AM, Salgueiro L, Custódio JB, Cavaleiro C, Sousa MC. "Anti-Giardia activity of Syzygium aromaticum essential oil and eugenol: effects on growth, viability, adherence and ultrastructure." Exp Parasitol. 2011 Apr;127(4):732-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2011.01.011. Epub 2011 Jan 25.
  4. Chaudhari LK, Jawale BA, Sharma S, Sharma H, Kumar CD, Kulkarni PA. "Antimicrobial activity of commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans." J Contemp Dent Pract. 2012 Jan 1;13(1):71-4.
  5. Chami N, Bennis S, Chami F, Aboussekhra A, Remmal A. "Study of anticandidal activity of carvacrol and eugenol in vitro and in vivo." Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2005 Apr;20(2):106-11.
  6. Yano Y, Satomi M, Oikawa H. "Antimicrobial effect of spices and herbs on Vibrio parahaemolyticus." Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Aug 15;111(1):6-11. Epub 2006 Jun 22.
  7. Shapiro R. "Prevention of vector transmitted diseases with clove oil insect repellent." J Pediatr Nurs. 2012 Aug;27(4):346-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2011.03.011. Epub 2011 May 25. Review.
  8. Trongtokit Y, Rongsriyam Y, Komalamisra N, Apiwathnasorn C. "Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites." Phytother Res. 2005 Apr;19(4):303-9.
  9. Blomhoff R. [Antioxidants and oxidative stress]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2004 Jun 17;124(12):1643-5. Review.
  10. "Herbs and Natural Supplements, volume 1, 4th edition: Braun & Cohen." 2014. Print. 11 Jan. 2017.
  11. Kuroda, M, et al. "Hypoglycemic Effects of Clove (Syzygium Aromaticum Flower Buds) on Genetically Diabetic KK-Ay Mice and Identification of the Active Ingredients." Journal of Natural Medicine (2012): 394–399. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
  12. Sanae, F, et al. "Effects of Eugenol-Reduced Clove Extract on Glycogen Phosphorylase B and the Development of Diabetes in Db/db Mice." Food & function. 5.2 (2013): 214–9. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
  13. Karmakar, S, et al. "Clove (Syzygium Aromaticum Linn) Extract Rich in Eugenol and Eugenol Derivatives Shows Bone-Preserving Efficacy." Natural Product Research 26.6 (2011): 500–9. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
  14. Yoshifumi, Irie. "Effects of Eugenol on the Central Nervous System: Its Possible Application to Treatment of Alzheimers Disease, Depression, and Parkinsons Disease." Current Bioactive Compounds 13.4 (2017): n.pag. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Sanjiv

    Interesting article on cloves. I myself chew on 1 to 2 cloves whenever my throat starts to itch. Usually this is the first symptom I experience when I develop a pharyngitis or coryza. And since I have started using cloves, I get fewer episodes of throat ailment which are also shorter in duration!

  • Ivan

    1 to 2 cloves help reinforce the antibiotical effect of freshly eaten onions or garlic, and considerably masks the strong mouth odor from the former

  • Alicia M

    Thanks for all this good info..I put organic ground clove in my macaroni and cheese and soups…My kids love it!

  • Lm

    I made some clove pills and took one, a few hours earlier I had a sharp pain in my stomach..maybe cloves AREN’T good after all

  • Zach Laney

    I eat 1 teaspoon clove with 2 teaspoon bee pollen for an amazing whole body-mind-spirit energy stimulant. It is a better supplement for men because it is so androgenic but women can take it too.

  • ghc_health

    Great info, Zach! Thanks for sharing.
    -Dr. Edward Group

  • ghc_health

    Did you encapsulate a WHOLE clove or did you grind them up? Unground cloves can have a pointy corner, perhaps not a good idea to eat them whole.
    -Dr. Edward Group

  • lollipop

    Helps with my suffering symptoms of morgellons.

  • mithin

    i eat raw cloves daily… is it good to eat raw cloves?? or is there any side effects?? please advice.

  • ghc_health

    Whole cloves? They’re pointy and I’d think they might be uncomfortable going down unless chewed or ground up.

  • mithin

    I do chew them, but I eat more cloves in a day

  • Amy

    Thank you for this info. I woke up with a horrific crick in my neck. After visiting the chiro this morning, I’ve been drinking a warm concoction of coconut milk, turmeric, cloves and honey. I only added the cloves to cover up the turmeric, so I’m glad it also has great health benefits.

  • Hot Kid

    2 or 3 Cloves in my tea,.. every 20 oz cup… which I let brew for about 10 minutes or more…

  • betsyanne

    I have just had oral surgery a week ago and was in considerable pain. I didn’t want to take the amoxicillan prescribed by the surgeon, so I’ve been mixing coconut oil with clove oil and gently spreading it on my gums. I’m hoping this will help with infection fighting capabilities, as well as pain as I heal.
    I also put some pure, raw honey into my mouth and used my tongue to move it around on my gums and that has antibacterial, infection fighting properties, as well.
    Next time I mix a small batch I’ll add the honey to the coconut oil and clove oil and see if I like the taste.

  • betsyanne

    I have heard that chewing on a couple of whole cloves for a few minutes helps people stop smoking. Not sure exactly the mechanism (mind over matter, maybe?) but it probably does have merit.

  • ghc_health

    Let us know how your results are.

  • Rob Seibert

    I chewed up raw cloves and let it soak against my gums for about 15 minutes then swallowed the softened pieces; swallowed a garlic capsule, and chewed up a 500 mg Vitamin C chewable, and it knocked out an abcess overnight.

  • Edward Group

    That’s awesome, thanks for sharing.

  • Rob Seibert

    I guess the cavity is still infected or possibly where the filling fell out is just setting off the nerve. The clove and garlic is no longer helping it. It may have cut down the infection, but I still have a cavity and missing filling which needs to be dealt with. I’m on the road so have been putting it off.

  • sarah

    so i just got swanson clove 450mg supplement does that work the same?

  • I’m not sure. Is it organic and where does Swanson source their cloves from? I’m not saying it comes from China or India but if it does, that would concern me.

  • jennifer

    I suffer from tinnitus. Could cloves help?

  • Did you read somewhere that cloves help tinnitus?

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  • Manjari Dutt Rana

    You can add cloves to your tea. I usually make loose leaf tea and add ginger and honey and 3-4 flowers of cloves. I crush the flower head before putting it inside…

  • Suzanne

    I love steel cut oat porridge with grated apple, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and ginger, dried currants and almond or walnut milk… deliciously anti-inflammatory.

  • Ann

    I’m suffering from a cold. Yesterday, I put a pot of water on the stove on low heat to act as a room humidifier. As an after thought, I added some cloves and a stick of cinnamon to the water. After ten minutes, the pot smelled so aromatic that I put my face over it and breathed in. Wow! I felt immediate relief to my sinuses. Today, I found your website and am reading up on the health benefits of clove as I’m sipping a cup of my newfound brew. Thanks!

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  • vasantha

    India has been producing cloves and other spices to European countries for centuries. So Global Healing Centre ..what is your problem?

  • If it’s a clean, organic environment, I haven’t got one.

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  • Kelli

    Hi Dr. Group! Just came across your article. I see that it was posted quite a while ago.
    I noticed the paragraph regarding giardia and wondered if small amounts of organic clove powder would be safe for dogs if they get giardia? My dogs had a couple instances of giardia this spring and early summer. Treated them with medication from the vets office but would like to know if clove would be a safe, alternative treatment that is natural if they would happen to get it again.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks!

  • That’s a great question, I’m not 100% sure though. Does anyone with more insight into dogs specifically have an answer they can offer?

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  • Lori

    This is an old post but still going to answer the question. Go on the Diatomaceous Earth food grade only WEBSITE and seriously give this stuff a try it has saved my son from parasites when Dr.s wouldn’t help. My son just wasn’t eating for like almost 2 wks. had no appetite what so ever and had lost 5lbs. at age 7. Please read up on this it saved my boy ThankGod for it. I believe that it also would kill worms too.

  • Jessa

    HI: may i ask How do you make your steel cut oat por rige, Is there any specific amount, how much of the other ingredientes do you add and how long do you cook the porrige for? Im getting my self into the habit of having steel cut oat and adding cloves to improve my bad cholesterol.
    Thank you.

  • Suzanne

    Dear Jessica

    1/3 cup steel cut oats : 1 cup water = 1 serving porridge

    Blend 5 dates/prunes/figs or 1-2 tablespoons raisins or currants into the 1 cup of water instead of using sweetener and milk/cream afterward. I also blend in 1 Tablespoon walnuts or almonds to up the protein.

    For every 1/3 cup of steel cut oats I add 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 to 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp dried ginger) and simmer in the 1 cup of dried fruit-nutmilk water for 20 minutes til cooked.

    Prunes are not only great for your digestive tract as are figs also, but the former are a terrific source of collagen… great for your skin! If you crave a bit more sweetness, add a thinly sliced half ripe banana. Enjoy!

  • gazook

    I’ve been making medicinal honey with clove bud (1:1 by volume with raw local honey).. the honey acts as a solvent and draws out constituents of the clove (through gentle heat process .. can do 10 hours double boiler, keep temp below 112F to best preserve active constituents, enzymes of the honey) .. then press/strain through cheesecloth. .. now you have the honey and the “mark” .. the honey is very tasty .. this is a neat way to supplement clove.. unsure of daily value but 1/4 tspn or more depending… can eat by itself or add to smoothies, etc. .. (my friend also used it to help her 1+ year old daughter for teething pain and said it works great although important to note DO NOT give honey to babies under 1 year, and use caution with clove as small portion of population apparently are allergic) … meanwhile the “mark” left over from pressing out the honey .. i am trying to figure out use for .. have some ideas. .. Note that honey prepared this way (from dried herbs) can theoretically last for millenia .. forever shelf life. .. .. (can also use this honey in skincare – clove apparently is very good for acne sufferers)

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  • Eddy Zavala

    I put about 4-5 cloves in my coffee everyday. Towards the end of the drink I chew them up good. At first this was a bit difficult because they do have a strong taste but now its not so bad. Interestingly I used to get stomach pain after drinking coffee, presumably for my susceptibility of ulcers but not any longer!…gota love the eugenol.

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  • RC

    Hi Dr. Group, what is your recommendation for max dosage in mg opf clove be for a blasto + E.nana infxn?

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