An aromatic or pungent vegetable substance used to flavor food is considered a spice. It comes in the form of a seed, root, bark, fruit or other plant substance used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. They are distinguished from herbs, which are the flowers, leaves, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Some spices have antimicrobial properties. They contribute a large amount of minerals and other nutrients. Most herbs and spices have substantial antioxidant activity, as previously mentioned when indicating reduction of inflammation. Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on clove as a valuable spice and medicinal benefits:
“Clove is a pungent spice used worldwide in a variety of foods and beverages. Its uses extend to other areas as well, particularly due to its well-known analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Let’s take a closer look at these dried aromatic flower buds that have the appearance of small nails.
Image courtesy of: Shehan Obeysekera
While you may enjoy cloves in a hot beverage like spiced apple cider, they also feature prominently in pumpkin pie and speculoos — those crispy gourmet spice cookies that are a symbol of the Christmas season in Belgium, Germany and other countries across Europe.
Cloves Give a Pungent Punch to Foods and Beverages Worldwide
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Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum or Eugenia cariophylata) are the aromatic flower buds collected from evergreen trees of the same name. Clove is a tree of medium height (averaging 25 to 40 feet tall) that is populated with large green leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters.
Distinctive due to their nail-like appearance, cloves feature a long calyx adorned by four spreading sepals. They are topped by four unopened petals that form a small central ball. Native to Indonesia, cloves are also harvested in countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
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Cloves have long been used as a food and for medicinal purposes. This pungent spice has also been used to make clove cigarettes, also known as kreteks, which have been linked to a number of lung-related health problems.1,,sup style=”font-size: 10px;”>2 With respect to the history of cloves, authors of a 2012 study published in the journal Molecules noted:3
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“Clove … has been traded from one end of the world to the other, being a highly sought-after commodity in medieval Europe for medicinal and culinary purposes. During the 14th century the clove trade acted as a stimulant in the establishment of commerce at ports especially in Asia and Europe where it was traded for large profits.
The high clove trade price inspired exploration expeditions in the search for new sources of this highly praised spice and the establishment of new sea routes.
Throughout the following centuries its trade went through several phases such as increased trade prices, struggle over control of the industry, warfare, decreased trade prices and even smuggling of seedlings for cultivation.”
Cloves have long been used to enhance a variety of foods and drinks. Certain types of meat dishes, curries and marinades benefit from the unique punch delivered by cloves. In addition, cloves play prominently in spiced cider and other hot beverages, as well as dishes like arroz con leche (rice pudding), which is popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Clove can benefit your health because it:
Aids digestion — In animal studies, clove essential oil was shown to increase production of gastric mucus, which protects the stomach lining from being damaged by digestive acids. One set of study authors commented, “[T]he quantification of free gastric mucus showed that the clove oil and eugenol were capable of significantly enhancing mucus production.”
The researchers noted the need for further research before clove oil could be recommended for the treatment of gastric ulcers. An earlier study also involving lab mice validated the folkloric use of clove as a purgative. In that body of work, clove extract was found to increase gut muscle propulsion similar to medications typically administered for constipation.
About the use of cloves for digestion, Indian researchers who published a 2012 study in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry stated, “[Cloves] are well-known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. They may also help relieve vomiting and diarrhea as well as a host of other digestive disorders.”
Boosts immunity — Clove’s antiviral and cleansing properties are said to purify your body and enhance your resistance to disease.
In lab tests, eugenol was shown to possess antiviral activity against the herpes simplex viruses (HSV‐1 and HSV‐2). The researchers said, “[I]t was found that the replication of these viruses was inhibited in the presence of this compound. Topical application of eugenol delayed the development of herpesvirus-induced keratitis in the mouse model.”
Calms toothaches and other dental pain — Given its analgesic properties, clove essential oil can be used to soothe toothaches. Simply place a few drops of clove oil on an organic cotton ball and place it next to the bothersome tooth. In similar fashion, you can use clove oil to relieve pain from sore gums.
Authors involved in 2012 research said, “The antiseptic properties of clove oil are why it’s a common ingredient in various dental creams, toothpastes, mouth wash and throat sprays.” For more information on using clove for your oral care needs, refer to my article “Choose Clove Bud Oil for Better Dental Health.”
Promotes healthy skin — A body of 2013 research from China validated the usefulness of clove essential oil for skincare applications. The scientists commented, “Clove oil exhibited prominent free-radical scavenging activities … and strong inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation … This study suggests that both clove oil and citronella oil could be used as new source of skincare ingredients in the cosmetic industry.”
Reduces inflammation — A 2005 study involving lab rats, published in the European Journal of General Medicine, validated the anti-inflammatory potential of clove essential oil when compared to two nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
After administering either clove oil or the NSAIDs etodolac or indomethacin to rats with swollen paws, the study authors noted clove, depending on the dosing, had anti-inflammatory effects similar to both medications.
Indicating clove as a promising compound worthy of further research, they concluded, “The current study proves the anti-inflammatory activity of clove in vivo, [in addition to] its antibacterial, analgesic, spasmolytic and anesthetic actions.”
Soothes headache pain — Given the anti-inflammatory benefits of eugenol, clove is useful for the treatment of headache pain. About cloves and headaches, NDTV Food states:
Supports respiratory health — One way to use clove as a respiratory aid is to make clove tea, which you can either drink or use as a steam inhalation.
For a cold or sore throat, you can add a couple of drops of clove essential oil to a mug of hot water, which you can sweeten with raw honey or stevia if desired. Drink two to three glasses a day until your condition improves. You can also use clove oil for aromatherapy by diffusing it into the air.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/12/21/clove-health-benefits.aspx
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