You are probably familiar with the story of how a man by the name Seyyid Said went to Zanzibar and initiated clove farming in the 1840s. The cloves did so well under that climatic condition, that they expanded the East African trade as a whole.
Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen also known as Syzygium aromaticum. They are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice, but they have also been used in traditional medicine. Cloves are native to the Molucca Islands, now a part of Indonesia. The name comes from the French “clou” meaning nail.
Here are the benefits of cloves.
- Boosts oral health
There are a number of factors that contribute to poor oral and dental health, including diet or medical problems. Cloves decrease oral inflammation and bacteria. In fact, in an experiment, researchers concluded that cloves decrease the number of harmful bacteria more than the commercial mouth rinse. Due to its strong germicidal properties and a compound called Eugenol, clove oil fights dental pain, toothaches, sore gums, and mouth ulcers very effectively. Due to its strong aromatic properties, gargling with clove oil and warm water can help you fight bad breath.
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- Improve your digestive health
For those who frequently suffer from stomach ulcers or food poisoning, cloves might just be the answer for you. In lab tests published in 2009, scientists found that clove bud oil helped to suppress the growth of listeria, a common bacteria known to cause food-borne illness.
On the other hand, cloves can also help to reduce the instances of stomach ulcers. In an animal study, essential oil from cloves was shown to increase the production of gastric mucus. Gastric mucus functions as a barrier and helps prevent erosion of the stomach lining from digestive acids. Ulcers are aggravated by acid.
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- Good for your bones
Bone conditions such as osteoporosis, rickets, osteomalacia, and arthritis are common in our world today. An animal study found that clove extract high in eugenol improved several markers of osteoporosis and increased bone density and strength. Cloves contain vitamin K, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are essential bone nutrients. Cloves are also high in phenolic compounds which have been shown to enhance bone mineral content and bone quality.
- Help with liver health
The liver is an extremely important organ whose function is to filter blood, detoxify chemicals, and metabolize drugs. For this reason, it is vital to keep it healthy. Studies show that the beneficial compounds in cloves could help promote liver health. The compound eugenol may be especially beneficial for the liver. In fact, an animal study showed that the eugenol found in cloves helped reverse signs of liver cirrhosis or scarring of the liver.
- Regulate blood sugar
Diabetes is a common lifestyle disease characterized by high glucose levels in the blood. If it isn’t managed, it can lead to potential complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage. The good news? Cloves can help you with that. Cloves also offer anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and digestive health benefits for diabetes. Cloves help keep your blood sugar levels in check and are known to promote insulin production, further controlling diabetes.
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Obesity is a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. In a study of mice, researchers found that clove extract reduced the incidence of obesity resulting from a high-fat diet. Cloves stimulate metabolism thereby helping in losing weight. The spice has anti-cholesteremic and anti-lipid properties, meaning it promotes a reduction of cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood.
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- Can help protect against cancer
Research has pointed towards a correlation between inhibition of tumours and the intake of cloves. A test-tube study observed that concentrated amounts of clove oil caused cell death in 80% of oesophagal cancer cells. A different study found that eugenol, a compound found in cloves, promoted cell death in cervical cancer cells.
However, there is a disclaimer. In high doses, eugenol appears to be toxic, and several instances of severe acute liver and kidney injury have been reported. So as much as you want to reap the benefits of cloves, you must also regulate your intake. When they say that too much of anything is poisonous, they also include spices.
Here are some other spices you should be taking regularly – ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, Cumin and garlic. Also check out Turning to nature for relief: 8 common spices that act as medicines.
Pilau is a delicious rice dish that contains cloves. If you don’t know how to make it here are 5 Different Ways To Cook Pilau