Cloves are perhaps most well known for their numbing effects when one has a toothache. This is because they are rich in eugenol, around 80 – 95 percent of this volatile oil makes up Clove oil, and it is this compound that is responsible for the analgesic, antiseptic and anaesthetic effects of Cloves. This anaesthetic effect is borne out by scientific research, with a study published in “The Journal of Dentistry” in 2006 proving Clove essential oil had the same numbing effect as the topical agent benzocaine, making it a natural alternative before needle insertion.
Cloves also reduce the bacteria that cause gum disease and help to create a balanced oral biome. With over 700 types of bacteria in the mouth, some beneficial and others harmful, Cloves work to manage the bacteria (killing of the bad and leaving the good), unlike conventional mouthwashes and antibiotics which just kill all bacteria. Good bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide that keeps harmful bacteria under control, whilst many strains of bad bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. Furthermore, according to a report published in the Journal "Compendium", bad bacteria don’t develop a resistance to Cloves.
Other benefits to oral health you can expect to experience from regular use of Cloves are a reduction in swollen gums, enhancing gum tissue health due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They also help to remineralise teeth due to the protective properties of eugenol against acids (that can erode dentin), a fact borne out by a 2012 study conducted by the Indian government. To top it off, breath will smell sweeter and fresher from chewing just one single Clove.
One of the major cornerstones of overall good health, healthy digestion is a symbiotic process that involves almost every system in the body. Firstly, the central nervous system must be in the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. The mere scent of Cloves essential oil can trigger the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which slows down the heart rate and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Also, Cloves retain the good bacteria in the mouth which start to break down food for digestion as it is being chewed, as well as stimulating the production of saliva.
Additionally Cloves are carminative, helping to reduce bloating, flatulence and the excess acidity that can lead to heartburn. The active compounds in Cloves promote the production and secretion of digestive enzymes, aiding in the assimilation of important nutrients. Cloves can either be chewed whole or added to a meal in powder form. The essential oil can be sniffed, diluted and massaged into the abdomen, or dabbed on the back of the ear (connected to the vagus nerve), calming down the nervous system in readiness for digestion.
Recent research demonstrates the protective effects of Cloves, finding that the oil enhances gastric mucus production which in turn protects the lining of the digestive tract and can prevent the erosion that leads to ulcers, gastritis and leaky gut syndrome.
Cloves are also effective for nausea and vomiting, especially when caused by motion sickness. Simply inhaling the essential oil can help to alleviate the symptoms and settle the stomach.
Cloves are rich in antioxidants which aid the immune system in fighting off oxidative damage and free radicals. Eugenol has been shown to fight harmful organisms within the body, helping to ease infections and combat dangerous viruses and bacteria. The potent antiseptic qualities of the eugenol in Clove oil can kill off yeast cells such as Candida. Candida overgrowth can cause havoc with the immune system, thwarting its attempts to attack disease causing pathogens.
Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil contains high amounts (around 85%) of the plant phenol “Eugenol” which is a highly effective, antibacterial compound. It is important to dilute this essential oil in a carrier oil before application to the skin, where it can be used to soothe irritation and combat acne.
The powerful antibacterial and antifungal qualities of this oil were known way back in history, and as such it was used in a blend known as “Thieves Oil” which was used to protect people against the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages. Its disinfectant properties have been used for millennia to keep infections at bay.
Folklore and history
Cloves have a long and chequered history, once worth their weight in gold they were deemed so valuable.
Over 2,000 years ago, Cloves were introduced to China by envoys from Java to the court of the Han Dynasty. They were customarily held in the mouth during audiences with the Emporer to freshen and sweeten breath.
Cloves were traded by Muslim sailors and merchants during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade. It was so profitable that in the early 17th century the Dutch eradicated Cloves on all islands except Amboina and Ternate, in order to create scarcity and sustain high prices. In the latter half of the 18th century the French smuggled Cloves from the East Indies to Indian Ocean islands and the New World, breaking the Dutch monopoly.
The powerful antibacterial and antifungal qualities of Cloves oil were known way back in history, and as such it was used in a notorious blend known as “Thieves Oil” which was used to protect people against the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages.
Native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, Cloves have been used for centuries as a remedy for many ailments. This warming spice has a long history, with archaeologists finding Cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria that dates back to 1721 BCE, proving it was being traded way back then.
Cloves, along with nutmeg and pepper, were highly prized in Roman times where they were used as a remedy for toothache and as a mouthwash to freshen the breath.
For over 2,000 years, Indian and Chinese traditional medicine has made extensive use of Cloves and Clove essential oil. In Ayurveda, Cloves are considered to help with digestive problems of all kinds, as well as improving the circulation and metabolism. In traditional Chinese medicine, Cloves are considered both pungent and warming, and can help to purify the stomach, spleen and kidneys.
This warm and spicy powder can be used to spice culinary dishes or made into a tea. Simply pour one cup of boiling water on 1 teaspoon of Clove Powder and let it steep for ten minutes. Add honey if desired.
Mix Clove Powder in water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the wound and cover the cut with a warm towel. Leave on for 5 minutes.
Mix Clove Powder in with a little Coconut Oil and rub over gum area.
Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil can be used in the bath, or vaporized in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream. Use 6-8 drops per bath and 10 -18 drops per 30ml of carrier oil.
Volatile oil, gallotannic acid; two crystalline principles - Caryophyllin, which is odourless and appears to be a phylosterol, Eugenin; gum, resin, fibre.
Clove essential oil need to be diluted first; never apply an essential oil directly to the skin. Avoid contact with eyes.
If you are taking blood thinning medication, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using Cloves products.