Cloves are a wonderful but underutilized spice.  Cloves are native to Indonesia and have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.  In modern times, medical studies have found that the essential oil in cloves have analgesic properties.
Besides adding a distinct flavor to dishes, cloves have great medicinal uses.
Medicinal Benefits:
Clove’s essential oil is called eugenol.  This along with flavonoid components kaempferol is responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.  Antioxidants inhibit the spread of too many free radicals that occur in our bodies from normal oxidation processes.  Free radicals can sometimes start reactions that lead to cell damage.
Dentist at times, use cloves as a mild local anesthetic in certain dental procedures.  Methyl salicylate and beta-caryophyllene are some of the components that work with eugenol that make it an effective painkiller and anti-bacterial medication.  A 2009 study has shown the anti-bacterial quality of cloves by hindering listeria.  Listeria bacteria are frequently associated with food poisoning.
Medicinal Use:
The following are some suggestions for the practical medicinal use of cloves:

  • To ease toothache pain or sore throats, place a clove bud in your mouth or add clove oil diluted in warm water and gargle.
  • To get relief from respiratory ailments, boil a few buds in water and inhale the steam.
  • To help relieve nausea or prevent vomiting, boil some ground cloves and use as an after-meal tea to support digestion.
  • For wounds or sores, topically apply clove oil diluted in water (around 1%) as an antiseptic. You can also make a paste by mixing the ground spice in honey.
  • To help freshen your breath and reduce oral bacteria, chew a whole clove bud or rinse your mouth with a mixture of clove oil in water.

Whole cloves keep longer than ground cloves.  Buy organically grown cloves to reduce the risk of contaminants such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Store cloves in a re-sealable clear glass jar and keep the jar in a cool dry place to preserve freshness.
Remember to consult your physician before adding any changes to your health regime.
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