What are Cloves: Health Benefits and Uses
Though they are quite tiny, cloves offer you with enough benefits with respect to healing and nutrition. It is an aromatic herb realized as flower buds from a clove tree. You can identify cloves by their pungent and spicy taste, and the herb is popular for its antidiabetic as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Continue reading to further understand exactly what are cloves, their uses and health benefits.
What are Cloves?
Cloves are the dried flower buds of the syzygium aromaticum tree, and are indigenous to Indonesia. They can be bought as a spice both in whole and grounded forms and can also be accessed as essential oils and capsules. What’s more, the aromatic flavor of cloves adds spicy warmth to our dishes; however, you should use it sparingly because a dish can be easily overwhelmed by its potent flavor.
What are Cloves used For?
The dried flower buds of cloves, as well as the oils, stems, and leaves, are useful for making medicine. What’s more, the herb is used in the treatment of cough, as an antiseptic, to take care of the common cold, to tackle oral hygiene, sinus, and flu. Other functions of cloves include boosting body immunity, taking care of issues like indigestion, diabetes, headaches, and liver problems, as well as also improving bone strength. You can also use it in juices, teas, food preparations, sweets, cigarettes as well as oil preparations.
Cloves can also conveniently be used in the following ways;
- For cooking
Ground cloves can be added to cakes to give an additional kick. They often go down very well with cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also add the herb to your morning tea as well as porridge, rice, or for garnishing.
- For the killing of fleas
Thanks to the aromatic nature of clove oils, it can function as a good insecticide. Use two drops of clove oil in water to rinse off your pet after a bath and keep the fleas away by adding a single drop of clove oil to your pet’s collar.
Health Benefits of Cloves
Let’s take a look at a few health benefits that come with cloves;
- Contains essential nutrients
Cloves are replete with minerals, vitamins, as well as fiber, thus using it either grounded or whole adds flavor to every meal and provides some essential nutrients like calories, carbs, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. While fiber works at promoting regularity and preventing constipation, vitamin C promotes immunity, and vitamin K works on blood clotting.
On its own part, manganese is a vital mineral for the development of strong bones and the maintenance of brain function. In addition, ground cloves are also equipped with minor amounts of magnesium, calcium, as well as vitamin E.
- Bursting with antioxidants
Apart from being rich in essential minerals and vitamins, cloves are also bursting with antioxidants, which are defined as those compounds responsible for the reduction of oxidative stress – if left unchecked, oxidative stress may become a contributing factor to the development of chronic diseases.
What’s more, the compound known as eugenol is also present in cloves – this acts as your natural antioxidant. According to findings from a test-tube study, eugenol halted oxidative damage from the effect of free radicals five times more efficiently than vitamin E, which is also a potent antioxidant. We do not forget the vitamin C content of cloves – the C vitamins are another antioxidant that mitigates against free radicals by neutralizing all the compounds that are known to build up in the body system, causing damaging oxidative stress. When taken in combination with several other foods that are rich in antioxidants, cloves promotes our overall health.
- Might provide protection against cancer
According to findings, the compounds contained in cloves can aid in protecting the body against cancer. Another test-tube research revealed that extracts from cloves could help in stopping the development of tumors, as well as promote the death of cancerous cells. A different test-tube study produced similar results, revealing that concentrated quantities of clove oil engendered cell death in eighty percent of some esophageal cancer cells. Even the eugenol has been proved to have some anti-cancer properties. Results from test-tube study found eugenol effectively promoting the death of cancerous cells in cervical cancer. Important to note that all the test-tube studies made use of highly concentrated extracts from cloves, eugenol. As well as clove oil.
When consumed in high quantities, eugenol is quite toxic, and you can get liver problems from an overdose of clove oil, especially in kids. We still need further research to determine how consuming lower quantity may affect human beings.
- Kills bacteria
It has been shown that cloves are equipped with antimicrobial properties, which means that they can aid in preventing the growth of some microorganisms such as bacteria. According to a test-tube study, the essential oil in cloves was effective at killing three kinds of bacteria, including the likes of E. coli, which is a strain of bacteria capable of causing diarrhea, cramps, fatigue, and in extreme cases death.
Moreover, the antibacterial properties found in cloves can aid in promoting oral health. A test-tube study proved that compounds from cloves halted the growth of the bacteria (two types), which contributes to gum disease.In a separate study, 40 individuals were used to test the effectiveness of some herbal mouthwash containing cloves, tea tree oil, and basil. After 21 days, all the people showed a good level of improvement in their gum health, in addition to some good results in the number of bacteria and plaque in the mouth. When used in combination with appropriate oral hygiene, the antibacterial content of cloves may be good for your oral health.
- May improve the health of the liver
According to findings, beneficial compounds present in cloves may aid in promoting liver health, especially eugenol. A study using animals fed rats with some fatty liver disease mix with either eugenol or clove oil. Both concoctions were found to reduce inflammation, enhance liver function, and lessen oxidative stress.
In another study also using animals, the eugenol content of cloves assisted in reversing evidence of liver cirrhosis, which is called scarring of the liver. However, it is quite unfortunate that studies on the liver-protecting effects of eugenol and cloves in the human population are limited though a minor study revealed that a week’s ingestion of eugenol supplements reduced the levels of GST – an enzyme which is involved in detoxification that’s always a marker of liver problems.
The antioxidant content of cloves also works against liver disease, thanks to their natural ability to aid in decreasing oxidative stress. With that said, remember that taking eugenol in excess can be toxic, according to a study, a two-year-old who took five to ten ml of clove oil ended up with complicated liver damage.
- May aid in regulating blood sugar
Reports from researches showed that some compounds present in cloves might aid in controlling blood sugar – an animal study using diabetic mice revealed that extracts from cloves assisted in moderating increases in blood sugar. A separate animal and test-tube research studied the effects of nigericin, a compound present in cloves and clove extract, both in diabetic mice and on human muscle cells. Both nigericin and cloves were shown to increase sugar uptake from the blood into the cells, enhance insulin secretion, as well as improve cell function where insulin is produced.
Insulin is the hormone that takes charge of conveying sugar from the blood into the cells, and insulin must function properly for you to be able to regulate your blood sugar level. You can keep your blood sugar level under control by combining cloves with a balanced diet.
- May aid in promoting bone health
Low bone mass may lead to osteoporosis, which may likely increase the risk of fractures and breaks. In animal studies, some compounds present in cloves have been demonstrated to aid in preserving bone mass. For instance, clove extract replete with eugenol was shown to increase bone strength and density, as well as enhance many markers of osteoporosis in a study using animals. The manganese content of cloves aids in bone formation and overall bone health. A separate animal study showed that 12-week ingestion of manganese enhanced bone growth and bone mineral density. However, all these findings are limited to test-tube and animal studies; we still need to embark on additional research to establish how it is likely to affect bone formation in the human population.
- May help in reducing stomach ulcers
Additionally, some compounds in cloves may aid in treating stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers), which come in the form of painful sores forming in the linings of the duodenum, stomach, or esophagus. These come as a result of lessening in the natural protective lining found in the stomach that is due to factors like stress, infection, and genetics. The causes have been identified as infection, stress, as well as genetic.
In an animal research, it was found that the essential oil in cloves enhanced the production of gastric mucus, which in turn, acts as a barrier preventing the erosion of the lining of the stomach from digestive acids. In a different animal study, it was revealed that clove extract aided in treating stomach ulcers with effects comparable to anti-ulcer medications. Though all these effects of cloves on ulcer looks promising, we still need additional studies to know the outcome on the human population.
- Clove – BBC Good Food