The Astonishing Health Benefits of ClovesFayyaz Alam
Clove is a popular spice used all over the world. Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of the clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum), native to Indonesia. Known as one of the oldest spices in the world, wars have been fought over it and it used to be quite expensive; often left in the hands of royalty only. While our ancient ancestors may not have had the technology to prove it, they knew cloves were special. Modern-day science now knows a lot more about this historical spice. Here we’ll tell you what they’ve found and talk more about the astonishing Health Benefits of Cloves !
- Cloves are one of the oldest known spices in the world.
- They have been valued for their medicinal properties since as early as 1700 BCE.
- Cloves are packed with nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and manganese.
- They are also a powerful source of antioxidants.
- Cloves have both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. They kill bacteria and can help fight gum disease.
- Cloves may reduce your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and more.
- Studies have shown clove extract can kill certain types of cancer.
The Rich History of Cloves
Cloves are one of the oldest known spices in the world (with the oldest believed to be cinnamon and black pepper). The earliest use has been placed around the time of 1700 BCE in Mesopotamia. Archaeologists excavated an area in modern-day Syria and found a ceramic pot with clove inside. They determined the pot and cloves to be from around 1720 BCE. There are also mention of cloves in the ancient text Ramayana from India, dated to be written around 7th century BCE. In ancient 1st century CE in Rome, the famous Pliny the Elder wrote about them as well. During this time spices, including cloves, were used for their medicinal properties. They were also commonly found in religion, magic, and used for preservation.
Until more recent times, cloves only grew on a handful of islands in the Moluccas (historically known as the Spice Islands). For a long time, there was a limit on the exportation of this spice as companies were attempting to gain a monopoly on it but thankfully never succeeded. Even still, cloves were heavy traded and highly sought after. They were most traditionally used as a medicine during this time. Clove oil was known to treat toothaches and other pains. It was also used as an ancient breath freshener.
In modern times you’re most likely to come across cloves in curry or a pumpkin pie. However, medical science has not forgotten about this ancient spice and continues to test it for health benefits. It can still be found at most pharmacies as an over-the-counter remedy for toothaches.
Astonishing Health Benefits of Cloves
Before we get right into the health benefits of cloves, we wanted to let you in on a little astonishing fact. While most spices are not known for their nutritional value, cloves stand out among the pack. In just one tiny teaspoon of ground cloves (2g), you’ll find 1g of fiber, 1g of Manganese (30% daily recommended value), 1.6 mg of Vitamin C (3% daily recommended value), and 2.8 mcg of Vitamin K (4% daily recommended value). That is a lot of nutrition packed in those tiny little cloves! Now, onto more of the health benefits of cloves!
Cloves Promote Oral Health & Help to Prevent Gum Disease
If you read about some of the traditional uses of cloves earlier, this one probably isn’t a surprise to you! It turns out chewing cloves for better breath and using them for toothaches actually is beneficial. Cloves have been shown to have both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
In one study published in 2012, researchers used clove essential oil to test its effectiveness against 3 different strains of bacteria (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa). It was effective in killing all three types of bacteria and was found to be most effective against Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E. coli. This powerful bacterium has been known to cause cramps, diarrhea, and even death.
Why is this important for oral health? Cloves can help kill the bacteria responsible for gum disease! In fact, to test this theory, researchers tested 40 individuals and published their results in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. In this study they had participants use a mouthwash containing cloves, basil, and tea tree oil. After 21 days they found that the participants had less plaque and bacteria in their mouth as well as a noticeable improvement in their overall gum health.
Cloves May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
It is believed that cloves may help regulate blood sugar in the body. This can, in turn, help diabetics as well as potentially prevent type 2 diabetes. While research in animals has been promising, more research on humans needs to be done.
The two most well-researched studies were performed in 2012 and 2017, both using mice. Both studies found that cloves help to control blood sugar spikes in diabetic mice. They also found cloves increased the uptake of sugar from the blood into cells, increased the secretion of insulin, and improved the function of cells that produce insulin. The proper functioning of insulin in the body is vital in maintaining blood sugar levels.
Cloves May Prevent Cancer
The first important thing to note here is that cloves are high in antioxidants. In fact, one study proved that cloves were five times more effective than vitamin E at stopping oxidative damage caused by free radicals (which is known to lead to cancer). Antioxidants are also important in overall health.
Various test-tube studies over the past decade have led to even more promising results. Three separate studies researched the use of cloves against cervical cancer, colon cancer, and esophagus cancer. In all three studies, clove extract was found to stop the growth of tumors and promote cell death in up to 80% of cancer cells.
Cloves May Improve Liver Health
While liver health isn’t talked about often, it’s still very important. As we’ve already discussed, cloves are high in antioxidants which decreases oxidative stress. This may help them prevent liver disease.
While research in humans have been limited, there is promising research done on animals. A study published in the Journal of Cancer Prevention concluded that compounds found in cloves were able to help reverse the signs of cirrhosis of the liver in cirrhotic animals. Another study in 2014 looked at the uses of clove in rats with fatty liver disease. At the end of the study, the rats were found to have an improvement in liver function, a reduction of inflammation, and a decrease in oxidative stress.
Chronic Illnesses Cloves Can Help With
While more research needs to be done, preliminary medical studies have shown cloves may help reduce the risk of:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Liver Disease
- Stomach Ulcers
- Oxidative stress
The Best Way to Use Cloves
There are many different ways you can use cloves. The most common, of course, is in food. Cloves are used in many popular dishes including curry and pumpkin pie. While this is a good way to get cloves into your diet, it might not be easy to get a serving every day. Clove is extensively used in Eastern diets but not as often in the West. This is the best way to consume, without possible overdose or creating a nutrient imbalance.
If you’re struggling to add cloves to your daily diet, one way to do that is clove extract or essential oil. Clove extract can be found on its own in supplement form and is also included in a lot of health supplements. Since clove can have a strong taste that some people don’t enjoy, taking a clove supplement can be a great solution. You don’t want to end up taking a bunch of different supplements either. Since clove extract is included in many other health supplements, you should try and see if you can find it there. It’s also likely to be included with other beneficial supplements like elderberry syrup.
Possible Side Effects
Direct clove extract taken orally should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as children. Though cloves used in cooking are fine for either group.
If you have liver disease, a bleeding or blood clotting disorder, a weakened immune system, or certain food/plant allergies, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking clove extract orally.
There are no reported side effects of taking clove extract orally in otherwise healthy adults.
Cloves Improve Your Health and May Prevent Diseases
If you were on the fence about cloves before, we hope we have helped change your mind! Cloves can be a healthy addition to any adult’s diet. Plus, many research studies have shown that cloves may help reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and more. They are also packed full of essential nutrients and powerful antioxidants. Consider adding cloves to your daily diet for better health and disease prevention.