Cloves are the dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum. The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to 8–12 m tall, with large leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia, India, Madagascar, and Zanzibar.
What is clove used for?
Cloves are harvested for two different purposes;
1- as the main spice in cuisines around the world, especially in Asia
As a medicine:
The herb is warming and stimulant. Clove acts as an analgesic, increasing blood flow to an injured area of the body, relieving muscle spasms, reducing pain and inflammation. It has also antioxidant properties and may protect against free radicals.
As a spice:
Cloves are used throughout the world to season many different types of foods. Many consider it essential in sweet dishes, while others use it in both sweet and savory dishes. Outside of Indonesia, cloves are an important part of South Asian cuisines (especially Bangladeshi cuisine), Ethiopian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, Congolese cuisine, and Chinese cuisine. Cloves are used in drinks, whether to flavor beverages such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or beer; or to accompany the drink as a garnish (as in brandy or rum ).
What is clove used for externally?
Clove can be used as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. Clove oil is an effective treatment for toothache.
It can be applied to the gums or teeth, where it helps to numb the pain.
Clove essential oil (containing eugenol) can also be applied to the skin near the location of the pain.
However, there has yet to be enough evidence to support that clove oil is effective, and many dentists attest that these remedies are not only ineffective at the least but dangerous at their worst. See ‘Dangers of cloves’ below.
What are the side effects of clove?
Eye irritation may occur when the essential oil is used undiluted on the skin around the eyes.
Chemical constituent of clove:
Borneol, Eugenol, α- and β-pinene, limonene , myrcene , linalool , caryophyllene .
Methanolic extract of clove has been found to produce significant antidepressant effects in mice.
Cloves also contain the chemical eugenol which is useful as an antiseptic.
Dangers of cloves :
1- Ingestion of whole cloves may cause nausea and vomiting, and is sometimes used in suicide attempts.
2- Clove in the form of a clove oil ointment is commonly used in dentistry as an anesthetic, but it can be irritating to the skin.
3- Eye exposure may result in irritation, pain, bloodshot eyes, or blurred vision :
Eye exposure to clove oil should be avoided because it is highly irritant while undiluted.
Clove oil mixed with methyl salicylate has been used for centuries as a liniment to relieve muscular aches and pains but has been banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration because of its high concentration of methyl salicylate.
4- Clove can cause skin irritation
Clove oil can cause allergic reactions resulting in skin rashes, watery eyes, runny nose, asthma attacks, and shock.
5- Clove may cause adverse effects when taken orally, applied topically, or inhaled.
These include gastrointestinal disturbances, bleeding, hypothermia, local anesthesia, hypotension, renal failure, convulsions, and coma.