Few spices can claim to be as versatile as the clove, having several uses in cuisine, medicine, beauty and the home. With a beautifully symmetric appearance and intense aroma, this is one spice that everyone in the world is familiar with.
The characteristic smell and flavour is due to the chemical named eugenol. The flavour is so intense that a small quantity of the spice can offer a large impact.
Derived from the Latin word ‘clavus’, meaning nail, a clove does resemble a nail, with a head and a stem. Cloves are actually flower buds, and other parts of the plant are also used in various ways.
There are many health benefits of cloves when you include it in your daily diet. In this post I am sharing with you, tried and tested health benefits of cloves along with DIY home remedies that will cure ailments without you having to opt for regular medicines.
6 Health Benefits of Cloves
Due to their easy availability, cloves are widely used in cuisines across the world, particularly South East Asian, Middle Eastern, African and South American countries. Besides cooking, the strong aroma of this spice makes it a common ingredient in insect repellents and in aromatherapy. Cloves are also used in the manufacture of perfumes, soaps, toothpaste and cigarettes. It is also an important part of traditional medicine like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Thai and Kampo medicine, due to its various health benefits.
1. Soothes Digestive Troubles
Cloves contain compounds that help to relax the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which provides relief from common digestive troubles like vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence and stomach aches.
2. Prevents Stomach Ulcers
Cloves are known to increase the production of gastric mucus, which protects the stomach by acting as a barrier. This barrier prevents the deterioration of the stomach lining which can end up causing painful ulcers.
3. Improves Oral Health
Cloves are well known for their dental benefits and this is one of their main roles in all forms of traditional medicine. Many major toothpaste brands include cloves as their main ingredient. Unlike commercial mouthwashes that kill all bacteria in the mouth, cloves attack disease-causing bacteria, while leaving the good bacteria unaffected promoting a balanced oral biome.
4. Relieves Cough
The eugenol in cloves also helps in soothing symptoms of respiratory distress. Brewed into tea, cloves act as an expectorant, drawing up phlegm from the chest. Massaging clove oil also relieves congestion and opens up the breathing passages.
5. Offers Pain Relief
Eugenol, the main ingredient in cloves, is quite effective in relieving all kinds of pain. Toothaches can be soothed by dampening a cotton ball with a little clove oil and placing it on the affected area. Clove oil also helps treat dry socket, a painful condition that arises after a tooth extraction. Studies also show that applying ground cloves 5 minutes before inserting a needle can reduce the pain.
6. Promotes Skin Health
Cloves have antibacterial properties which are beneficial when it comes to skin health. Bacteria and dirt are the main causes of pimples and acne, which can be tackled by cloves. The rich antioxidant content of cloves also fight premature signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines.
Tips to Buy and Store Cloves
Fresh and potent cloves can be identified by pushing a finger nail into the head and checking if it releases a strong aroma. Cloves are usually available either whole or ground. Whole cloves last longer, for about a year, while ground cloves stay good for up to six months.
The best way to store whole or ground cloves is in glass or steel jars in a cool and dry place. To know if stored cloves are still good, they can be tested by dropping them in a cup of water. Good quality or fresh cloves will float vertically, while the rest will sink or float horizontally.
5 DIY health remedies using cloves
Here are some tried and tested home remedies that you can DIY using cloves.
Natural Cough Syrup
Mix 5-6 cloves in a cup of honey and let it sit in the fridge for 6-8 hours. Remove the cloves and have a teaspoon or tablespoon of the mixture for soothing a cough and sore throat.
Herbal Mouthwash and Spray
Boil a cup of water with a teaspoon of cloves and a few drops of peppermint oil. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before straining and pouring into a bottle.
Refrigerate and use it as a mouthwash. You can also add some honey and pour into a spray bottle to use as a mouth spray.
Mix a tablespoon of whole cloves, a few drops of tea tree oil, 2/3 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup of rose water in a jar and place in the fridge for a week, shaking it every day. Take a small part of the mixture in another bottle and dilute with distilled water and use.
DIY AIR FRESHENER
Boil a mixture of 3 cups water, 5 cloves and the peel of two oranges. Simmer for half an hour and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into a jar and cover with a paper using a rubber band around the mouth. Pierce holes in the paper and let the smells escape through them.
While cloves have several benefits, they can be quite potent and must be used sparingly. Consuming too much can harm people with blood clotting diseases or immune system disorders, which is why it’s not recommended to have cloves at least a week before and after surgery.
This post has been originally written for Quint Fit. You can view rest the post here.