Clove generally refers to a dried flower bud taken from the clove tree (Syzgium aromaticum, or Eugenia caryophyllis), which is an aromatic evergreen tree indigenous to Indonesia.
Cloves contain phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, hidroxiphenyl propens, hidroxicinamic acids, etc. However, the primary component of Clove is Eugenol. Eugenol accounts for 89 per cent of the composition of essential oil extracted from clove. Other phenolic acids such as salicylic acids, caffeic acids, etc., are found in lower concentrations.
The antioxidant property of clove is attributed to the presence of Eugenol. Clove oil includes other essential oil components like acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, vanillin, etc. As such, clove functions as a natural preservative and an anti-aging substance. Further, Eugenol is a proven inhibitor of microbial growth. Several studies have established the active role played by Eugenol in inhibiting the growth of microorganisms such as Listeria monocitogenes, E. coli, etc.
Health Benefits of Clove:
1. Cloves Improve Digestion:
Cloves contain an active component called Eugenol. Eugenol composes 72–90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves and imparts its characteristic taste and aroma.
Clove oil also includes other essential oil components, for example, acetyl Eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, and vanillin. Studies suggest that Eugenol helps prevent toxicity from environmental pollutants such as carbon tetrachloride.
Additionally, Eugenol has been shown to have a preventive effect on digestive tract cancer. Its extracts from clove have been used in the treatment of gastric or duodenal ulcers.
In Chinese medicine, problems related to digestion are also effectively cured by application of clove oil on the stomach as it is generally considered as a warming herb and as an expectorant. As such, it is prescribed as a cure for conditions of cold and as it helps cough up phlegm.
Furthermore, cloves help in the treatment of common ailments, for example, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite and vomiting.
2. Cloves Relieve Pain:
Traditionally, cloves have been used in dentistry to treat a toothache. For instance, in the United States, Eugenol extracts have been used as a mild anesthetic and disinfectant in conjunction with root canal therapy, dental fillings, and toothache.
Additionally, Eugenol has anti-bacterial properties. As such, Eugenol extracts from clove are used as an ingredient in sore throat sprays and mouthwash sprays.
Cloves also have analgesic properties and are thereby used to relieve pain.
3. Cloves Regulate Hormones:
Cloves effect changes in human hormones, for example, estrogen and insulin.
Blood sugar levels are dependent on the regulating property of insulin. Therefore, intake of cloves affects the levels of insulin generated by the body thereby regulating the blood sugar level.
4. Insect Repellent Properties of Clove:
The components extracted from clove have an insect repellent property and therefore find use as an ingredient in insect repellent lotions or creams. The insect repellent lotions or creams are useful against insects such as ants, mosquitoes, etc.
Eugenol and beta caryophyllene components of Clove oil were found to have a repellent effect on fire ants and wasps. Additionally, studies suggest that Eugenol effectively targets the larvae of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Consequently, the use of clove is one of the best strategies to combat dengue, chikungunya, Zika fever, etc., all caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
5. Antibacterial Properties of Clove:
Clove has been tested on a number of human pathogens and it has been proven to kill them all. The antibacterial properties of its extracts have been proven to work even against specific bacteria that spread cholera.
6. Anti-Mutagenic Properties of Clove:
Mutagens are chemicals that change the genetic makeup of the DNA by causing mutations. But it can be controlled easily by administering cloves into mutant cells. This is because cloves have some biochemical compounds like phenylpropanoids that possess anti-mutagenic properties.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cloves
Cloves often possess anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. Some studies have revealed that the presence of Eugenol in it can reduce the inflammation caused by edema. It also has the ability to reduce pain by stimulating pain receptors.
8. Aphrodisiac Properties of Cloves
Spices such as clove have been proven to possess aphrodisiac properties according to Unani medicine. Experiment on clove extracts that were tested against standard drugs administered for that reason showed positive results, making it a safe aphrodisiac for humans.
9. Cure for Oral Diseases Using Cloves
Cloves can be used to cure different forms of gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. Its bud extracts can control the growth of pathogens that are responsible for various oral diseases.
Moreover, it can be used as toothpaste due to its pain-killing properties. As long as it does not irritate or cause any irritation in your mouth, it is safe for consumption and dental use.
Precautions and Side Effects:
Clove is essentially healthy for the human body but too much of it can often lead to prolonged bleeding. This is due to its blood thinning effect caused by the presence of Eugenol. This chemical slows down the method of blood clotting and supports abnormal bleeding. So, if you have any bleeding ailment, avoid clove for good.
It also lowers blood sugar level by further decreasing glucose levels in the blood and increasing the possibility of developing multiple health risks. So, if your blood sugar is below the normal level, you should avoid its consumption so as to limit your chances of developing other body ailments.
Moreover, it can lead to several allergic reactions like rashes, hive, and swellings. In some rare cases, cloves can lead to the growth of anaphylaxis. And once the allergy exacerbates, it can also lead to death, although only in a few cases.
Cloves also increase the chances of experiencing a seizure. This is because they make some electrical actions in our brain. It is one of the major negative side effects of eating cloves in large amounts. So always keep it at the recommended dose or take it in small quantities.
Additionally, cloves can lead to loss of skin sensation as the Eugenol in it often serves as a numbing agent. This chemical often reduces down skin sensation if used repeatedly, so take care when you choose to apply clove oil on your skin or use it for other skin conditions.
It can also cause some oral problems like creation of infections in the mucous membranes of the inner walls of the mouth. Besides, extreme consumption of cloves can cause damage to gum, teeth, and tooth pulp as well as dental tissues. It can also lead to dental cavities as well as sore lips. Likewise, its burning sensations can also create apprehension.
As much as cloves have medicinal values, it can also lead to some drastic health conditions and vomiting. So, always take it in moderation. Besides, it can also lead to some toxic effects in your body and make your throat sore and leave you all nauseating.
Conclusively, cloves have loads of benefits to the body but only when taken in moderation. If you have any skin or health issues, it is important to consult a doctor before trying out clove as a treatment, herbal medicine or as a diet supplement.
Moreover, if it creates any problems for your skin or health leave it as it is and consult a doctor immediately for any effects. Besides, you should also take only the recommended dose no matter how much you want it, as too much of it is never good even for a healthy and fit person.