Clove, you must have heard about this wonderful culinary herb most commonly used in Indian cuisine to enhance the flavor and aroma of the food. The unopened dried flower buds are what we see in our kitchen and used as a spice. Flower buds have strong aromatic smell and strong taste. Clove got its name from a French word “Clou” which means “a nail” as the buds resemble the shape of a small nail. Clove (English name) is known as Laung in Hindi and Ding xiang in Chinese. It is not just a culinary herb. It is also an important medicinal herb and very popular around the world due to its therapeutic values.
Description of The Clove Tree
Actually, clove is a small evergreen tree grown in some Asian countries and West Indies. It is believed that cloves originated from the Malaku Islands, also known as Spice Islands in Indonesia. Clove trees are small in size ranging from 10-20 meters in height. The leaves are oval in shape and flowers are crimson in color. Flower buds of cloves are pale in color that become reddish brown when dry. The flower buds are harvested with calyx attached.
Active Compounds Present in Clove
Eugenol is the phytochemical found in Clove that is responsible for the strong aroma of this plant. Eugenol is also present in the essential oil obtained from Clove plant. Eugenol is a highly researched compound due to its therapeutic properties. Other active compounds present in clove are acetyl eugenol, tannins, methyl salicylate, flavanoids, triterpenoids, etc.
Uses of Clove
Culinary uses of cloves are immense. Cloves are used as spice in Indian and Mexican Cuisines. The essential oils extracted from this plant is also used for making perfumes and as flavoring agents. Clove oil is mainly used for therapeutic purposes. Clove oil is extracted from leaf, stem and bud of the plant. Clove oil is rich in eugenol that make it highly therapeutic. It is also used in oil painting.
Medicinal Uses of Clove Oil
Researches have shown that the clove oil is a potent anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressent, anti-bacterial, antifungal, antiviral, analgesic, anti-pyretic, etc. All these properties of Clove oil are due to eugenol. Some of the highly researched medicinal properties of Clove oil are listed below:
Clove Oil and Oral Health
You might have heard people using clove buds and clove oil for getting instant relief from tooth ache. The analgesic property of clove oil makes it the best pain relieving agent if you are suffering from tooth ache. The antibacterial property of clove oil also helps in controlling dental carries. It is also effective against gingivitis and other oral health problems.
Chewing 1 or 2 cloves daily for 5 – 10 minutes decreases bacterial count in mouth. Mouthwash prepared from essential oil of clove is a better mouthwash than a chemical mouthwash.
Side Effects Associated with Clove Oil
Clove buds and clove oil are in general safe for daily consumption if taken in moderate amount. It is most commonly consumed in food without any known side effects. Clove oil creams and lotions are also considered safe for daily application. Eugenol is found to be linked with bleeding disorders as it slows down the blood clotting rate. Otherwise, it is safe for consumption.
Clove is an important Ayurvedic herb that is used worldwide due to its medicinal benefits. The above mentioned benefits are just a few. Other benefits include treating cancer, diabetes, stomach ulcers, etc that will be discussed in my next post. I hope this post might have given you some useful information about the most common spice of our food.