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8 Ways Cloves Heal Us & How to Use Them

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.

  1. The eugenol found in cloves may inhibit inflammatory progression in human cells, and IV infusions of clove has actually reduced lung cancer cells.
  2. 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.
  3. Anti-spasmodic: use in a tea to reduce coughing, or try it topically to treat muscle spasms.
  4. 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.
  5. Sex: Clove used in topical cream may help prevent premature ejaculation.
  6. 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.
  7. Teething babies: Traditional herbalism includes clove oil as pain reducer for teething babies. 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.
  8. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Do you know someone who could benefit from cloves? Send them this post. You might just save them!


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  • Wes Waltenspiel

    Frances, thank you for another excellent post! I regret to hear you had to have your ‘wisdom’ teeth removed, but it does not seem to have any adverse effect on your wisdom, eh?

    • Frances Arnold

      Hehehe. . . I am wise enough to know not to answer such inquiries, Wes. Thanks for the humor, friend. =-)

  • popsat1

    clove oil works great for tooth pain,but can burn the gums,as noted, also long term use can harm the root nerve, leading to early loss of tooth. keep up the great work ,to help enlighten the world one post at a time, pops

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  • robert

    I have just found out about the good benefits of using cloves, and am wanting to start using it. Can you tell me what would be a positive daily dose of cloves? Thanks ahead for response. 🙂

    • Frances Arnold

      Hi Robert, That’s an interesting question. Since I’m not sure exactly what you’re addressing, I’m going to assume you’re asking for general health. In that case, I’d start by including cloves (and other spices) in as many foods or drinks as you find desirable. For example, make a stove-top chai by blending whole ginger, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and peppercorn. Or, add ground clove to warm cereals, pork, or even baked goods. Good health starts with incorporating healthy whole foods into our meal plan. Does this help?

      I’ve recommended spice blends (clove fits into this recipe nicely) in this post:

  • Dave

    Clove oil gives me 6 to 8 hours relief from 25 year continuous calf muscle pain. Tea tree oil gives me 2 to 4 hour relief. After several days of usage of Clove oil, though, I am starting to feel clove like mild taste in my tongue thinking that clove oil may be building in blood. Any long term usage or over dosage research that anyone can post will be most appreciated. Thank you.

    • Frances Arnold

      Dave, yours is a unique situation. 25 years is a long time to use cloves in a concentrated form (oil). If you’re feeling like it’s building up and is altering your taste, I would advise taking a break from clove oil. It may mean that you’ll have to look into the root causes of your calf muscle pain. Many people experience nutrient deficiencies that trigger pain, and inflammation is also a cause for ongoing issues. I would encourage you to investigate what’s happening that would lead you to need ongoing treatment, and hopefully, you’ll find that other methods can help you. I don’t know much about your story beyond what you shared, but I would suspect there are still many stones that can be turned. Best of wishes, Dave!

  • El Barto from France

    Hey Frances El Barto here,I think article rocks! I’ve been supplementing with cinnamon for a few weeks after finding out about ORAC scores and antioxidant values. On it I saw cloves was the only other herb almost twice as potent than cinnamon. I tried supplementing with half teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cloves and was kinda harsh digestion slowed way down. Do you have a recommended dosage for daily consumption of cloves similar to taking perhaps 1 teaspoon cinnamon daily. And if you could would you recommend combining cinnamon and cloves together or take them separately? You should try it really slows food digestion so leveling sugar definitely seems to work in its favor. Also what do you think as far as antioxidant potential do you think its better than astaxanthin?

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