Biological Name: Caryophyllus aromaticus, Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata
Other Names: Clove, clovos, caryophyllus
Parts Used: Flower buds
Clove oil is 60 to 90 percent eugenol, which is the source of its anesthetic and antiseptic properties.
During the Han dynasty (207 B. C. to 220 A. D.) those who addressed the Chinese emperor were required to hold cloves in their mouths to mask bad breath. Traditional Chinese physicians have long used the herb to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernia, and ringworm, as well as athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
India’s traditional Ayurvedic healers have used clove since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments.
Clove first arrived in Europe around the 4th century A.D. as a highly coveted luxury. The medieval German herbalists used cloves as part of anti-gout mixture.
Once clove became easily available in Europe, it was prized as a treatment for indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It was also used to treat cough, infertility, warts, worms, wounds, and toothache.
Early American Eclectic physicians used clove to treat digestive complaints and added it to bitter herb- medicine preparations to make them more palatable. They were also the first to extract clove oil from the herbal buds. They used it on the gums to relieve toothache.
Contemporary herbalists recommend clove for digestive complaints and its oil for toothache.
Anodyne, antiemetic, antiseptic
Toothache, oral hygiene:
Dentists use clove oil as an oral anesthetic. They also use it to disinfect root canals.
Clove oil is the active ingredient in several mouthwash and a number of over-the-counter toothache pain-relief preparations.
Clove kills intestinal parasites and exhibits broad antimicrobial properties against fungi and bacteria supporting its traditional use as a treatment for diarrhea, intestinal worms, and other digestive ailments.
Like many culinary spices, clove may help relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract.
Clove oil will stop the pain of a toothache when dropped into a cavity. A few drops of the oil in water will stop vomiting, and clove tea will relieve nausea. Eating cloves is said to be aphrodisiac.
The clove is an evergreen tree, 15 to 30 feet tall, native to the Spice Islands and the Philippines but also grown in India, Sumatra, Jamaica, the West Indies, Brazil, and other tropical areas. It has opposite, ovate leaves more than 5 inches long; and its flowers, when allowed to develop, are red and white, bell-shaped, and grow in terminal clusters. The familiar clove used in the kitchen is the dried flower bud. The fruit is a one- or two-seeded berry.
Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon of powdered herb per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 to 20 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups a day.
Medicinal amounts of clove should not be given to children under age 2. For older children and people over 65, start with low-strength preparations and increase strength if necessary. For temporary relief of toothache prior to professional care, dip a cotton swab in clove oil and apply it to the affected tooth and surrounding gum.
Toothaches require professional care. Clove oil may provide temporary relief, but see a dentist promptly.
Japanese researchers have discovered that like many spices, clove contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent the cell damage that scientists believe eventually causes cancer. On the other hand, in laboratory tests, the chemical eugenol, has been found to be a weak tumor promoter, making clove one of many healing herbs with both pro- and anti-cancer effects. At this point, scientists aren’t sure which way the balance tilts. Until they are, anyone with a history of cancer should not use medicinal amounts of clove.
For otherwise healthy non-pregnant, non-nursing adults, powdered clove is considered nontoxic. However, high doses of the oil may cause stomach upset when ingested. When used externally, it may develop a rash.
Clove and clove oil in medicinal amounts should be consumed only under the supervision of a qualified professional.