Synonyms, Carophyllus aromaticus
Eugenia aromatica, E. carophyllus
Action: Aromatic, stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative, stomachic, anti-emetic, antiseptic, analgesic, rubefacient.
Systems Affected: Stomach, intestines, nerves, circulation, general effects on the whole body.
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried flower buds, dose 0.2-0.5 grams by infusion.
The dried unopened flower buds known as Cloves are derived from a tree native to the Molucca Islands in south-east Asia. Unknown to the ancients, they were brought to Europe by the Arabs and the Venetians. For a long time thereafter the spice was monopolized by the Portuguese and the Dutch, and was the cause of serious trade rivalry during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Cloves were once important as a preserving spice which arrested food decay, at the same time imparting an appealing aroma and flavour to the food. Clove oil was for centuries an ingredient in the embalming process, and is still found useful for anaesthetizing various types of nerve pain.
Cloves are the most powerful and stimulating of the aromatic and carminative herbs. They are particularly effective in warming the body, increasing the circulation and improving indigestion.
Cloves are useful in treating flatulent colic, indigestion, sour stomach and bad breath. They relieve nausea and vomiting, particularly when associated with pregnancy, for which purpose they are often combined with Spearmint and Cinnamon.
The stimulant warming action of Cloves is utilized in poor circulation and cold extremities, and sometimes in herbal formulas for low blood pressure.
The noted American herbalist Dr Edward Shook suggests for general debility and lack of vitality a small dose of Cloves taken 3 or 4 times a day (preferably an hour before meals and on retiring). Combined with rest, it produces a sensation of well-being, restfulness and relaxation. Large and frequent doses, however, will have the opposite effect, producing first overstimulation and later further debility.
Cloves contain eugenol, a powerful antiseptic and pain-killing substance. Its stimulant and disinfecting qualities are manifested particularly in the excretory organs of the kidneys, liver, skin and bronchial mucosae. Its pain-killing properties are well-known, being used locally for toothache and as part of ointments and embrocations for neuralgia and rheumatic pain.
Clove oil has widespread commercial use, particularly in toothpaste and as a flavouring agent and antiseptic. Domestically, Cloves remain important as a spice and flavouring. Their fragrance makes them one of the principal ingredients in sachets, pomanders, potpourris, cosmetics and soaps. Clove pomanders were once very popular, being used to perfume and protect linen and clothing from moths.
Cautionary Notes: If applied locally for toothache, the oil should not have prolonged contact with the gums as this may cause serious irritation.