Don't Stop Believin' in the Power of the Cloves!

Don't Stop Believin' in the Power of the Cloves!

Let's face it, most of us wouldn't look at a clove and think "health hero." Tucked away in the spice rack next to the cinnamon sticks and paprika, these little brown buds seem more suited to adding warmth to a Christmas pudding than warding off illness. But cloves, it turns out, might be packing a surprising punch in the wellbeing department. We're not talking a magic bullet here, but centuries of tradition and a growing body of research suggest these tiny flavour bombs could be doing your body a bit of good.

A History Steeped in Spice

Cloves have a rich and fascinating history, their journey intertwined with trade routes and tales of exploration. Traded along the Silk Road as early as 2000 BC, they were revered for their potent flavour and medicinal properties. From ancient China where they were used as a breath freshener to Europe where they were a symbol of wealth and status, cloves have always held a certain mystique.

The Romans, for instance, used cloves as a digestive aid and even as a currency. In medieval Europe, cloves were a prized spice, fetching exorbitant prices due to the difficulty of obtaining them. They were a symbol of luxury, often displayed amongst other treasures in wealthy households. The allure of cloves even fuelled a period of exploration, with European powers vying for control of the spice trade routes. Explorers like Vasco da Gama set sail in search of new routes to the East, forever changing the course of history.

Fast forward to today, and cloves are a common ingredient in many cuisines around the world. From the warming curries of India to the fragrant tagines of Morocco, cloves add a touch of warmth and complexity to countless dishes. But their story goes beyond the kitchen. Science is starting to catch on to what grandma might have known all along – that cloves have potential health benefits.

Clove Powerhouse!

Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree, native to Southeast Asia. They're packed with a potent compound called eugenol, which is what gives them their distinctive flavour and aroma. Eugenol isn't just for taste buds, though. Let's delve deeper into how cloves might contribute to our overall wellbeing:

  •  Anti-inflammatory Powerhouse: Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or infection. While short-term inflammation is helpful, chronic inflammation can contribute to a number of health problems. The good news? Cloves, with their rich content of antioxidants and eugenol, may have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that clove extract may help to reduce inflammation in the body, potentially offering relief for conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Aiding Oral Health: Beyond freshening breath, cloves might play a role in maintaining good oral health. The eugenol in cloves may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, potentially helping to fight the bacteria that contribute to plaque and gum disease. Clove oil, diluted in a carrier oil, can be used as a topical pain reliever for minor mouth and gum irritations. It's important to note, however, that clove oil shouldn't be swallowed and should always be used with caution.
  •  Potential Cancer Fighter: This is a complex area with ongoing research, but some studies suggest that cloves might have anti-cancer properties. Eugenol and other compounds in cloves have been shown to exhibit anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies. However, it's important to remember that these are early-stage findings, and more research is needed to understand how cloves might impact cancer in humans. It's crucial to consult with a doctor for any cancer-related concerns.
  • Pain Relief Potential: The numbing properties of cloves have been used for centuries to alleviate pain. As mentioned earlier, clove oil can be used topically for minor mouth and gum irritation. Some research also suggests that clove oil might be helpful for pain management after dental procedures.
  • Blood Clotting and Circulation: Cloves may have some blood-thinning properties, which could be beneficial for those at risk of blood clots. However, it's important to speak to your doctor before using cloves if you're taking any blood-thinning medications. Additionally, cloves may help to improve circulation, potentially aiding in conditions like Raynaud's disease which affects blood flow to the fingers and toes.
  • Digestive Delight: Feeling a bit sluggish after a roast dinner? Cloves might be able to lend a helping hand. They're thought to stimulate the production of saliva, which can aid digestion and keep things moving smoothly. This can be especially helpful during the festive season when our indulgences tend to increase. Studies have shown that cloves may also help to relax the muscles in the digestive tract, potentially soothing cramps and spasms.
  • Freshen Up Your Breath Naturally: Worried about post-curry halitosis? Cloves are a natural germ fighter, thanks to eugenol's antibacterial properties. Chewing on a clove (though perhaps not the most delightful experience) can be a natural way to banish bad breath. Eugenol may also help to fight inflammation in the gums, another potential contributor to bad breath.
  • Give Your Immune System a High Five: Cloves are loaded with antioxidants, those little fighters that help protect your cells from damage. This free-radical damage is linked to a number of chronic diseases, so keeping our antioxidant levels up is important for overall health. Cloves are particularly rich in a type of antioxidant called flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
  • Soothe a Sore Throat: Feeling a tickle in your throat? Cloves have natural numbing properties, which is why they're sometimes used in dental treatments. Chewing on a clove (again, maybe not for too long!) might offer some temporary relief for a sore throat. The numbing effect of eugenol can also be helpful for toothaches. A diluted clove oil solution can also be used as a topical pain reliever for minor mouth and gum irritations.
  • Blood Sugar Blues? Some studies suggest that cloves might help regulate blood sugar levels. This is particularly interesting for those managing diabetes. Cloves may help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is the body's ability to use insulin effectively. They may also help to regulate the release of glucose from the liver, further contributing to balanced blood sugar levels.


Important Considerations

While cloves offer a range of potential health benefits, it's important to remember:

  • Moderation is Key: Cloves are a strong spice, so use them in moderation. Excessive consumption can irritate the mouth and throat.
  • Consult Your Doctor: If you have any underlying health conditions, speak to your doctor before incorporating cloves into your diet or using clove oil topically.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using clove oil or consuming large amounts of cloves due to potential safety concerns.

    Please leave a comment below if you use, or have ever used, cloves for anything else besides cooking. 
    I haven't but certainly will be at some point soon.

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Have you noticed any benefits yet Alexandra? ❤️


I’ve been popping a clove into my green tea in the mornings recently X


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