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Cloves » Homemade Remedies for Your Health


Athlete’s foot

Menstrual cramps
Motion sickness
Mouth inflammation

Smoking cessation
Sore throat


Cloves (Syzygium aroniaticum, Eugenia caryophyllus), the very spice you use to spike hams and enliven cookies, muffins, and other treats, can also be a handy, temporary
Stand-in for your dentist and can ease sore throats. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of an evergreen tree. They are handpicked and dried until they turn brown.



rooted in history
Cloves originated in the Moluccas, formerly known as the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It’s said that back in 200 BC, Chinese courtiers would nibble cloves when addressing the emperor so as not to offend him with their bad breath.

As with other aromatic spices, cloves became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, when aristocrats relied on cloves’ sharp flavor to mask the taste of poorly pre served foods.

Later, as cloves became more available, healers used them to remedy such complaints as nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, toothache, warts, and worms. The 17th-century British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, whose wisdom the early settlers often relied upon, advised that cloves would “help digestion, stop looseness and quicken the sight.”

what’s in it?
Cloves contain an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol. In animal studies, it inhibited COX-2, an enzyme that spurs inflammation (the same enzyme that so-called COX-2 inhibitor drugs such as Celebrex quash). Cloves also contain a variety of flavonoids, including kaempferol and rhamnetin, which helps explain why their antioxi dant properties rank so high. The combination of cloves’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties spells heaps of health benefits, from boosting protection from heart disease to helping stave off cancer, as well as siowing the cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. Compounds in cloves, like those found in cinnamon, also appear to improve insulin function. Trouble is, there’s no science suggesting the amounts of cloves needed to achieve these benefits.

what science says
Current science doesn’t have much to say on the subject of using cloves medicinally as far as humans are concerned. But clinical studies have been performed on lab animals and in test tubes, with some pretty interesting results.

Most recently, in 2009, Indian researchers learned that eugenol reduced the incidence of experimentally induced stomach tumors in mice and speculated that cloves could one day play a role in cancer prevention and treatment.

In another study published in 2009, Portuguese scientists tested clove oil and discovered that it inhibited a variety of fungi responsible for infections in humans, including Candida and Aspergillus. The results led the researchers to recommend more studies to develop clove oil as a treatment for fungal infections. Finally, in a 2004 study, Indian scientists decided to see whether there was any scientific basis behind cloves’ legendary reputation as an aphrodisiac. They gave male rats various doses of clove extract every day for a week and teamed them up with receptive female rats. Turned out, the highest doses made the male rats especially frisky and romantic, so the researchers concluded that cloves “enhanced their sexual behavior.”

Toothache treatment

American 19th-century Eclectic physicians, who upheld a philosophy of “alignment with nature,” were the first to extract the volatile oil from clove buds. Soon, its pain- killing effects made it the top home remedy for toothaches. In the days when dentists were few and far between, people would soak a cotton ball in the oil and apply it to an aching tooth. The oil had a nasty sting, but it did numb the ache—at least for a little while.

Clove oil is not only an effective painkiller but also a potent antiseptic. Even today, dentists use it to disinfect root canals and mix it with zinc oxide to make temporary fillings.

smokers, take note
Sucking on cloves has been said to help smokers kick the habit because it replaces nicotine’s lingering taste, which increases the craving for tobacco, with the piquant taste of cloves. The slight numbing sensation it imparts may also help numb the urge to light up.

Good to know
Pure dove oil can irritate the skin. Never use it internally, except to dab on teeth or gums to ease toothache pain.

Find whole cloves in the spice aisle of your supermarket. It’s best to purchase cloves and other spices from stores with a high turnover, to assure freshness. When squeezed with a fingernail, fresh cloves will release some of their oil. To use cloves for a tooth ache: Put a couple of whole cloves in your mouth. Let them soften a bit, and then bite on them gently with good molars to release their oil. Then move them next to the painful tooth and keep them there for up to half an hour Clove oil has a numbing effect.


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