What is Clove?
Clove (ding xiang, 丁香) is the flower bud of the Clove Tree, an evergreen plant that is also known as Syzygium aromaticum. These buds are picked by hand and dried for medicinal usage, sometimes even used to make a highly fragrant and medical essential oil. In the garden, Cloves are popular ornamental plants as they have a unique fragrance and a beautiful colour.
Cloves have been found in vessels in Syria that date back to 1721 BC. The Chinese have records showing that Cloves were required as a breath freshener and purifiers, dating back to the Han Dynasty. Also, Cloves have been traded between cultures for many hundreds of years. At the peak of the Clove trade, it even rivalled the value of oil.
Distilled from Cloves, Clove Oil is considered one of the top ten essential oils because of its medicinal properties. It is used to treat diarrhoea, hernia, nausea, vomiting and bad breath.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Clove falls under the category of ‘Herbs that warm the Interior and expel Cold’. Such herbs are used for internal Cold with Qi Deficiency or Yang Deficiency. Warm in nature, Clove can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.
Pungent in taste, Clove can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Clove targets the Kidneys, the Lungs, the Spleen and the stomach.
Functions and Benefits of Clove
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Clove has the following health benefits.
Cloves can warm one’s middle energizer and disperse Cold, hence it is a great herb to check the adverse rise of qi, arrest vomiting and stop hiccups caused by stomach Cold. Other symptoms that Cloves may help to address include diarrhoea, poor appetite, and morning sickness. As Cloves can disperse Cold to alleviate pain, they can also treat gastro-abdominal pain caused by Cold.
With the ability to warm one’s Kidneys and reinforce yang, Cloves can treat impotence, soreness, pain in the waist and knees due to Deficiency of Kidney-Yang.
Rich in antioxidants, Cloves can help to reduce oxidative stress, which then helps to prevent chronic diseases and fight signs of ageing. Current studies suggest that Cloves may help to protect against cancer as it may help to stop the growth of tumours and promote the death of cancer cells. Cloves have also been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which means that they can promote oral health by reducing the amount of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, and even relieve toothache.
Aside from the above Cloves benefits, other studies suggest that Cloves may improve Liver health, regulate blood sugar levels, promote bone health, reduce stomach ulcers, and aid weight management. It is also highlighted that applying Clove oil to one’s skin may help ease itching.
How to Use Clove
The recommended daily dosage of Cloves is 1 – 3g, when used as a decoction. Cloves and its supplements can be found at certain herbal stores and Asian specialty markets. Powdered Cloves are usually consumed to treat symptoms such as nausea and diarrhoea. Clove oil is often used as a mouthwash or to treat tooth pain.
Known for their strong taste and aroma, Cloves are also eaten as food or used in cooking. For example, it is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Pho, as well as condiments such as ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Cloves are also sometimes used to make Clove tea.
Cautions and Side Effects of Clove
Cloves should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency, pregnancy, internal Heat or febrile diseases. Also, Cloves should not be used in conjunction with Turmeric Tuber (Yu Jin).
Clove oil may cause side effects such as skin, eye or respiratory irritation, or an allergic reaction on the skin. Cloves may also increase the body’s response to warfarin. Consuming large amounts of Cloves may cause severe side effects, including liver and kidney damage, seizures and coma.
Hence, we strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Cloves to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Clove:
- Herb name (Chinese): 丁香
- Herb name (Pin Yin): dīng xiāng
- Herb name (English): Clove
- Herb name (Botanical): Flos Caryophylli
- Origin of species: Eugenia caryophyllata Thunb.
- Part(s) of herb used: Flower bud
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Hainan, Tanzania, Malaysia and Indonesia
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Spleen, Stomach, Lung and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Relieves stomach discomfort or nausea
Cortés-Rojas, D. F., de Souza, C. R. F., & Oliveira, W. P. (2014). Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine, 4(2), 90-96. [Accessed on 7th May 2023]
Dey, B. K., & Mukherjee, S. S. (2021). Potential of clove and its nutritional benefits in physiological perspective: A review. Int. J. Physiol. Nutr. Phys. Educ, 6(1), 103-106. [Accessed on 7th May 2023]
Rani, R., & Jena, M. K. (2021). Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): Beneficial effects on human health: A review. Plant Archives, 21(1), 1967-1972. [Accessed on 7th May 2023]
Singletary, K. (2014). Clove: overview of potential health benefits. Nutrition Today, 49(4), 207-224. [Accessed on 7th May 2023]
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