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Clove - Background & Uses

Native to Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagscar and Zanzibar, clove is used as a spice by cultures the world over.

Clove oil is used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) as a painkiller and anti-bacterial agent. [4] In Chinese medicine - and more recently, in Western herbalism - Clove oil is used by herbalists to treat digestive complications and skin disorders. [3]

Clove - Scientific studies

Clove oil has been studied for its potential to improve immune function [1], which correlates with cancer-prevention.

According to the American Pharmaceutical Association's Practical Guide to Natural Medicine, clove oil appears to have antioxidative properties and might have potential as an anticancer agent. However, more reseach must be carried out before any definitive claims are made. [3]

On the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, pharmacutical-grade clove oil measures at 1,078,700 ute/100g; it has the highest concentration of antioxidant activity of any single ingredient tested by the ORAC. According to the American Cancer Society, there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that clove oil can assist in the prevention or treatment of cancer. However, its high antioxidant rating and chemical constituents indicate that it may have potential to inhibit the growth of tumors and combat existing cancer cells.

Clove in old Herbals & Pharmocopœia

John Hill's "The Family Herbal" (1812):
Regarding Cassia caryophylata, or "Clove Bark-Tree": A tall and beautiful tree, native of the West Indies. The trunk is covered with a thick brown bark, that of the branches is paler and thinner. The arms spread abroad, and are not very regularly disposed; the leaves are oblong, broad, and sharp-pointed; they are like those of the bay tree, but twice as big and of a deep green colour. The flowers are small and blue; they are pointed with streaks of orange colour, and are of a fragrant smell; the fruit is roundish; we use the bark, which is taken from the larger and smaller branches, but that from the smaller is best. It is of a fragrant smell, and of a mixed taste of cinnamon and cloves; the cinnamon flavour is first perceived, but after that the taste of cloves is predominant, and is so very strong that it seems to burn the mouth. It is so excellent against colic; and it warms and strengthens the stomach, and assists digestion: it is also a cordial, and in small doses joined with other medicines promotes sweat. It is not much used fairly in practice, but many tricks are played with is by the chemists, to imitate or adulterate the several productions of cloves and cinnamon, for it is cheaper than either.

Other names for Clove, Past or Present

Latin - Syzygium aromaticum, syn. Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata
English - Clove bud




[1] Shifko, Robert. Clove Oil Health. 2004.
[2] Peirce, Andrea. The American Pharmaceutical Association practical guide to natural medicines 1999. Stonesong Press, Inc. New York.
[3] Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies. 2002. Penguin Putnam: NY.
[4] Khalsa, Karta Purkh Singh and Michael Tierra. 2008. The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: The Most Complete Guide to Natural Healing and Health with Traditional Ayurvedic Herbalism. Lotus Press: Twin Lakes, WI.

Main article researched and created by Kelsey Wambold,

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