Cloves are dried flower buds that come from the clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum). They have a spicy and pungent taste and are known for their medicinal properties. They have been in use for a long time for treating inflammation and aiding diabetes treatment.
Some of the important nutrients they contain include manganese, fiber, and vitamins C and K. These nutrients help boost brain function and promote immunity.
In this article, we talk about the potential health benefits of cloves and their nutritional profile. We also have discussed the possible side effects of cloves you need to be wary of. Scroll down for more information.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Benefits Of Cloves?
1. May Fight Inflammation
Studies have shown that the eugenol in cloves works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. This also holds true for clove essential oil, one form of clove that is widely available (1).
Clove also fights inflammation of the mouth and throat. In a study, clove oil could help ease the inflammation associated with plaque and gingivitis (2).
The eugenol in cloves lowered pro-inflammatory cytokines in animal studies. Hence, it could help treat inflammation associated with arthritis in humans (3).
2. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk
A study showed that clove extract could prevent tumor growth and induce cancer cell death (4). The anti-cancer properties of clove can be attributed to eugenol, which also reduced the risk of esophageal cancer (5).
3. May Improve Oral Health
The eugenol in clove is believed to provide relief from tooth pain. The substance is an anesthetic and has antibacterial properties, and this may help you deal with the pain (8).
One simple way to get rid of a toothache is to place a few whole cloves in your mouth and moisten them with your saliva. You can crush the cloves with your teeth. The oil that is released fights the pain. You can use a whole clove for 30 minutes before discarding it and repeating the process with a new one.
If you have severe toothache and grinding cloves with your teeth is difficult, you can use crushed cloves. Crush the whole cloves and place the powder on the affected tooth.
An Iranian study states the analgesic effects of clove, which can help relieve toothache (9). Cloves may also combat bad breath.
4. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Volunteers in a study reported lower glucose levels before and after meals after consuming clove extracts (10). Another animal study showed that cloves could moderate blood sugar spikes in diabetic mice (11).
Cloves contain another compound called nigericin, which was found to improve insulin secretion and the health of cells that produce insulin (12). This means that cloves may keep your blood sugar levels in check when taken as a part of a balanced diet.
5. May Improve Liver Health
Eugenol, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound in cloves, can improve liver health. According to one study, the ascorbic acid and beta-sitosterol compounds are cloves that can inhibit hepatic cell proliferation (13).
6. May Promote Bone Health
The hydroalcoholic extract of dried cloves is rich in polyphenols, such as eugenols and eugenol extractives, and can promote bone density (14).
As per some animal studies, the manganese in cloves may help improve bone mineral density and metabolism (15).
7. May Promote Digestive Health
Certain compounds in cloves may help reduce stomach ulcers. The oil from cloves can increase the thickness of gastric mucus, and this protects the stomach lining and prevents peptic ulcers (16).
Cloves also contain some fiber (17). This fiber may aid digestion and prevent constipation. However, the effectiveness of clove fiber to achieve the same is yet to be studied.
8. May Aid Weight Loss
Cloves contain natural fatty acid synthesis inhibitors which can reduce body mass. In animal studies, alcohol extracts of clove (AEC) were found to lower lipid accumulation in the liver, abdominal adipose tissue weight, and body weight (18).
However, more studies are required to understand the function of AEC in reducing body weight in humans.
9. May Improve Respiratory Health
This property is especially true for clove oil. The oil can be used for treating asthma (19). The oil soothes the respiratory tract and also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Supplementation with clove oil was found to prevent bacteria from forming colonies in the lungs (20).
You can massage the oil into your chest, sinuses, and the bridge of the nose. As per anecdotal evidence, this may open the breathing passages and provide relief. You can also add the oil (or steep a few cloves) to a glass of warm water and take it as tea. Chewing on a clove bud is also suggested to ease a sore throat.
10. May Relieve Stress
The alcoholic extracts of clove were found to possess anti-stress properties. It is thought the antioxidant effects of clove could be responsible for this (21). However, more research is warranted in this aspect.
11. May Fight Headache
Clove oil is extensively used in aromatherapy to treat headaches. This could be attributed to the eugenol in clove, which has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties (22).
Crush a few cloves and put them in a clean handkerchief. Inhale the smell whenever you have a headache. Alternatively, you can also add two drops of clove oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and gently massage over your forehead and temples.
However, these methods are based on anecdotal evidence. If you are unsure about how to use clove to treat headache, consult your health care provider.
12. May Boost Testosterone Levels
Mice studies have shown that the oral ingestion of cloves can enhance testicular function and ultimately boost testosterone levels (23).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cloves may enhance fertility. However, certain research states that excess intake of cloves may, in fact, impair fertility. Such effects were observed in animals (24). Hence, it is important to consult a doctor before consuming cloves for this purpose.
13. May Treat Acne
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of cloves could play a role here. Clove oil works well in treating acne and improving skin health. The oil is also recommended in the aromatherapeutic literature for treating acne (25).
The eugenol in the oil has antibacterial properties. The oil can kill infection and fight inflammation, thereby effectively treating acne (25).
15. May Improve Hair Health
Some believe clove oil could be used in scalp and hair treatments. The oil is also touted to increase blood circulation and promote hair growth. However, these effects are not backed by research.
Cloves are generally healthy and most of the research supports the evidence, more studies are warranted to understand their function. But including cloves in your regular diet is a good idea. In the following section, we have discussed the different ways you can use cloves.
How To Use Cloves
Cloves can be used to make tea and as flavor agents in different recipes, cookies, and gingerbread preparations. Also, cloves can be used to kill fleas.
- You can add cloves to cakes by grinding them. This gives your baked goods an extra kick. Cloves go well with nutmeg and cinnamon.
- You can also add a couple of cloves to your morning tea.
- You can add cloves to your rice preparations. Using them as a garnish is a good idea.
For Killing Fleas
As clove oil is an aromatic essential oil, it can work as an excellent insecticide. After bathing your pet in warm water, rinse it off with water with a couple of drops of clove oil. You can also add a drop of the oil to its collar; this will keep the fleas away.
Clove oil can also be used as a mosquito repellent (26).
In the following section, we will look into the nutritional profile of cloves.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Cloves?
Cloves are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of cloves contains (17):
- 17.8 calories of energy
- 2.2 g of fiber
- 0.388 g of protein
- 4.26 g of carbohydrates
Cloves are also packed with vitamins C and K and minerals, such as manganese and calcium.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.15 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||5.4 g||14%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||7%|
|Vitamin A||13 IU||0.5%|
|Vitamin C||11.7 mg||20%|
|Vitamin E||0.19 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||14.8 µg||12%|
Eating cloves in excess could cause certain undesirable effects. Though research is ongoing, it is important to practice caution.
What Are The Side Effects Of Cloves?
Consuming 10 ml clove oil caused hepatic failure in a 15 month-old boy (30). There is lack of enough research on the safety of cloves for pregnant and lactating women. Hence, consult your doctor.
Cloves possess many medicinal properties and have several benefits. From fighting inflammatory diseases to helping treat acne, this spice can improve human health in various ways.
Including cloves in your diet is simple. They are most often added to enhance the flavor of dishes. However,
be wary of the adverse effects. If you are on medications or are pregnant or lactating, consult your doctor before taking cloves.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How many cloves can we take in a day?
Taking 2 to 3 cloves per day should be fine. But this dosage may not be suitable for all. Hence, consult your doctor.
What is a good substitute for cloves?
You can use allspice or nutmeg in this case. They are good substitutes for cloves.
Is clove oil toxic to humans?
Topical application is fine. But there is limited research on its effects with repeated oral intake or its application to the gums or teeth. Hence, consult a doctor before using it.
What are the other names for cloves?
A few other names of cloves include laung (Hindi), ding xiang (Chinese), cengkeh (Indonesia), and clavo (Spanish)
Do cloves stimulate blood circulation?
There is limited research available. It may reduce body temperature and enhance circulation. The antioxidant properties of cloves are thought to purify the blood. However, more scientific research is warranted.
Do cloves make your lungs bleed?
Clove-flavored cigarettes may lead to lung bleeding, though this is not supported by research. It is believed the eugenol in cloves makes smoker’s lungs numb.
- Anti-inflammatory activity of clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts, Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- A comparative study of antiplaque and antigingivitis effects of herbal mouthrinse containing tea tree oil, clove, and basil with commercially available essential oil mouthrinse, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-arthritic Effect of Eugenol on Collagen-Induced Arthritis Experimental Model, Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Clove Extract Inhibits Tumor Growth and Promotes Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis, Oncology Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Comparative anticancer potential of clove (Syzygium aromaticum)–an Indian spice–against cancer cell lines of various anatomical origin, Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute.
- Anticancer potential of Syzygium aromaticum L. in MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines, Pharmacognosy Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Synergistic Interaction of Eugenol With Antibiotics Against Gram Negative Bacteria, Phytomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Analgesic effect of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of clove, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Water-soluble polyphenol-rich clove extract lowers pre- and post-prandial blood glucose levels in healthy and prediabetic volunteers: an open label pilot study, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Hypoglycemic effects of clove (Syzygium aromaticum flower buds) on genetically diabetic KK-Ay mice and identification of the active ingredients, Journal of Natural Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Clove and Its Active Compound Attenuate Free Fatty Acid-Mediated Insulin Resistance in Skeletal Muscle Cells and in Mice, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Eugenol-rich Fraction of Syzygium aromaticum (Clove) Reverses Biochemical and Histopathological Changes in Liver Cirrhosis and Inhibits Hepatic Cell Proliferation, Journal of Cancer Prevention, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Clove (Syzygium aromaticum Linn) extract rich in eugenol and eugenol derivatives shows bone-preserving efficacy, Natural Product Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Manganese supplementation improves mineral density of the spine and femur and serum osteocalcin in rats, Biological Trace Element Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Gastroprotective activity of essential oil of the Syzygium aromaticum and its major component eugenol in different animal models, Naunyn-schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Spices, cloves, ground, FoodData Central, US Department of Agriculture.
- Clove extract functions as a natural fatty acid synthesis inhibitor and prevents obesity in a mouse model, Food & Function, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- An Overview on the Anti-inflammatory Potential and Antioxidant Profile of Eugenol, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Induction of Resistance to Respiratory Tract Infection With Klebsiella Pneumoniae in Mice Fed on a Diet Supplemented With Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum) and Clove (Syzgium Aromaticum) Oils, Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-stress activity of hydro-alcoholic extract of Eugenia caryophyllus buds (clove), Indian Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of topical and systemic administration of Eugenia caryophyllata buds essential oil on corneal anesthesia and analgesia, Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Biphasic effect of Syzygium aromaticum flower bud on reproductive physiology of male mice, Andrologia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Reproductive effects of lipid soluble components of Syzygium aromaticum flower bud in male mice, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites, Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Potential Interactions Between Alternative Therapies and Warfarin, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- An unexpected positive hypersensitive reaction to eugenol, BMJ Case Reports, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Near fatal ingestion of oil of cloves, Archives of Disease in Childhood.
- Essential oil poisoning: N-acetylcysteine for eugenol-induced hepatic failure and analysis of a national database, European Journal of Pediatrics.
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