Cloves are under-appreciated blossoms that heal many health ailments.
When all my wisdom teeth were removed, I quickly discovered the agonizing pain of dry sockets. Vicodin left me with a hangover headache that was worse than the dry sockets. In desperate search for a solution, I remembered the old home remedy of using cloves for a toothache. Upon request, my dental surgeon supplied me with several strips soaked in clove oil and the tools to stuff them into the healing sockets. I used them faithfully to relieve the pain – almost entirely – until the wounds healed. This wasn’t a placebo effect, either. Human subjects have reported less pain when clove oil was used in dentist procedures.
Cloves help your heart, digestion, blood sugar, sexual health, and have deodorizing and anti-cancer effects.
- The eugenol found in cloves may inhibit inflammatory progression in human cells, and IV infusions of clove has actually reduced lung cancer cells.
- Folk remedies use it for improving digestion and reducing flatulence. This can be achieved with simple mulled cider or homemade chai tea spiced with clove.
- Anti-spasmodic: use in a tea to reduce coughing, or try it topically to treat muscle spasms.
- Yeast infections: Animal studies have shown that it reduces yeast infections when used topically over the infected area. However, it can also irritate mucus membranes or promote dermatitis, so apply with care. You can purchase it as an oil or salve and apply several times daily. Clove oil is not recommended for internal use for yeast infections.
- Sex: Clove used in topical cream may help prevent premature ejaculation.
- Heart Health: One clove study found that a daily dose of cloves lowered cholesterol while improving insulin performance. This study showed that the daily cloves reduced overall glucose, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels. It also inhibits lipid peroxidation, which promotes heart disease.
- Teething babies: Traditional herbalism includes clove oil as pain reducer for teething babies. Hippiedippiebebe.com shares that you can mix one drop of clove oil with 1-2 Tbsp carrier oil, such as olive or almond, and massage into baby gums. People with sensitive teeth can try making a clove compress or by anointing teeth with the clove-carrier oil mixture. However, use caution, as this could also burn baby or cause allergic reactions. For baby, it’s probably best to stick to commercial remedies containing clove oil that have been tested.
- Bad breath & odors: During the Han dynasty, you could only speak to the Emporer after managing your breath by chewing on clove. In Medieval times, cloves effectively masked the odor of improperly preserved foods.
How to use cloves:
- To evaluate its freshness, squeeze the clove with fingers; it will release oils when fresh. Alternatively, drop a few cloves into water. Good ones will float vertically, while older cloves will sink or float on their sides.
- Add cloves to classic sweet recipes, like pumpkin pie, oatmeal cookies and applesauce. (Try classic beverages with cloves here, or holiday food recipes with cloves here.) They are traditionally used in combination with other herbs to flavor meats, stews, marinades or pickles.
- Add to your daily foods: In this post on Spices Your Oatmeal Craves, I provide my magic blend of several spices, including cloves, so that you can easily shake it over cereal, yogurt and more. It’s a delicious and healing blend!
- Use in spice blends: It is an essential ingredient in garam masala (an Indian classic), Chinese five-spice (a Chinese staple spice), and in the mulling spices for apple cider.
- Grind at home: Use a coffee grinder (that’s dedicated just for grinding spices!) to grind whole cloves just before combining with other spices (for freshest flavor).
A home remedy using clove and cinnamon topically to reduce pain is provided by David Grotto, RD, LDN, in his book “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life”:
Make a paste from one-quarter teaspoon clove powder and one teaspoon cinnamon oil. Apply this to the forehead for headaches or to any other painful area. To relieve a toothache, chew on a clove or dip cotton in clove oil and apply it to the painful area.
How do you enjoy cloves?
Please share your ideas, traditions or tips in the comments below so that others (including me!) can learn from you!
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