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Cloves and Cancer
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The Health Benefits of Cloves
The clove (Eugenia aromatica) is a pink flower bud of the clove tree
that turns brown when dried.
Cloves have a warm, sweet, and aromatic flavor and an oily compound
that is vital to their medicinal and nutritional properties.
Cloves are indigenous to the Moluccas volcanic islands of Indonesia
previously known as the Spice Islands.
Today Zanzibar is the largest producer of clove and are also grown
commercially in the West Indies, Brazil, Pemba, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and
Cloves (Eugenia aromatica) are an excellent source of manganese.
They are a very good source of vitamin C, K, and dietary fiber. They are
a good source of calcium and magnesium.
|Spices, cloves, ground
||Nutritional value per
100 g (3.5 oz)
||323 kcal (1350 kJ)
A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in the Nutrition
where this food can also be added to a meal
Eugenol is a chemical compound extracted from the essential oil of
cloves and other spices. Eugenol has been shown to be an effective
natural anti fungal against the T. mentagrophytes and M. canis
dermatophytes (tinia or ringworm), and although tea
tree oil is a more effective anti fungal, a combination of tea
tree oil and eugenol was found to be more effective. Tests have
also demonstrated that essential oil of cloves to be effective against Candida
The fungicidal potency of clove oil compares very well with that of
the commercial antifungal drug nystatin, while providing for a less
toxic, safe, and inexpensive alternative to commercial drugs without the
risk of ever-increasing resistance shown by the target pathogens,
toxicity problems at the increasing required doses, and problematic
Eugenol is the principal chemical component of clove oil and is used in
dentistry due to its analgesic, local anesthetic,
anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. It is used in the
form of a paste or mixture as dental cement, filler, and restorative
Beta-caryophyllene, another component of clove oil, has also been
shown to exhibit local anesthetic activity.
Cloves can be used in relieving a toothache by placing
a single clove on the aching tooth. Clove oil can also be used by
soaking in some cotton wool and then placing the cotton wool on the aching
USDA’s Richard Anderson reports that bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, and
turmeric all can treble insulin activity, hinting that as little as 500 mg
might be enough to have some effect. A tea of 500 mg each of these spices,
with coriander and cumin, should be enough to treble insulin activity,
possibly helping in late-onset diabetes.
Extract of clove has been shown to enhance the sexual behavior of male
mice. The results of the study resulted in a significant and sustained
increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats, without any
adverse effects. The results seem to support the claims for its
traditional usage as an aphrodisiac.
The natural oil of clove is a natural mosquito repellant and can give
protection against mosquitoes for 4-5 hours.
Preliminary studies have suggested the chemopreventive
potential of clove for lung cancer, and to delay and reduce the formation
of skin cancer.
The compound eugenol from cloves has been found to be a potent platelet
inhibitor (prevents blood clots).
Allergic reactions to clove and eugenol have been reported.
Clove supplements should be avoided in children and pregnant or nursing
1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray,
Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Ghelardini C, Galeotti N, Di Cesare Mannelli L, Mazzanti
G, Bartolini A. Local anaesthetic activity of beta-caryophyllene. Farmaco.
2001 May-Jul;56(5-7):387-9. PMID: 11482764.
5. Park MJ, Gwak KS, Yang I, Choi WS, Jo HJ, Chang JW,
Jeung EB, Choi IG. Antifungal activities of the essential oils in Syzygium
aromaticum (L.) Merr. Et Perry and Leptospermum petersonii Bailey and their
constituents against various dermatophytes. J Microbiol. 2007
Oct;45(5):460-5. PMID: 17978807.
6. Fu Y, Zu Y, Chen L, Shi X, Wang Z, Sun S, Efferth T.
Antimicrobial activity of clove and rosemary essential oils alone and in
combination. Phytother Res. 2007 Oct;21(10):989-94. PMID: 17562569.
7. Trongtokit Y, Curtis CF, Rongsriyam Y. Efficacy of
repellent products against caged and free flying Anopheles stephensi
mosquitoes. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2005
Nov;36(6):1423-31. PMID: 16610644.
8. Banerjee S, Panda CK, Das S. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum
L.), a potential chemopreventive agent for lung cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2006
8. Aug;27(8):1645-54. Epub 2006 Feb 25. PMID: 16501250.
10. Banerjee S, Das S. Anticarcinogenic effects of an
aqueous infusion of cloves on skin carcinogenesis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev.
2005 Jul-Sep;6(3):304-8. PMID: 16235990.
11. Tajuddin , Ahmad S, Latif A, Qasmi IA. Aphrodisiac
activity of 50% ethanolic extracts of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) and
Syzygium aromaticum (L) Merr. & Perry. (clove) in male mice: a
comparative study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2003 Oct 20;3:6. PMID:
12. Tajuddin , Ahmad S, Latif A, Qasmi IA. Effect of 50%
ethanolic extract of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry. (clove) on
sexual behaviour of normal male rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Nov
5;4:17. PMID: 15530165.
13. Srivastava KC, Malhotra N. Acetyl eugenol, a component
of oil of cloves (Syzygium aromaticum L.) inhibits aggregation and alters
arachidonic acid metabolism in human blood platelets. Acetyl eugenol, a
component of oil of cloves (Syzygium aromaticum L.) inhibits aggregation and
alters arachidonic acid metabolism in human blood platelets. Prostaglandins
Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1991 Jan;42(1):73-81. PMID: 2011614.
14. Jadhav BK, Khandelwal KR, Ketkar AR, Pisal SS.
Formulation and evaluation of mucoadhesive tablets containing eugenol for
the treatment of periodontal diseases. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2004
Feb;30(2):195-203. PMID: 15089054.
15. Image by rawallison.
Phytomedicine: Turning Medicinal Plants into Drugs
Cloves nutrition facts
Cloves are one of the highly prized spices well recognised all over the
world for their medicinal and culinary qualities. They are the "flower
buds" from evergreen rain forest tree native to Indonesia.
Botanically, the spice belongs to the family of myrtaceae of the genus; Sygyzium, and scientifically named as Sygizium aromaticum.
The flower buds are initially pale in color, gradually turn to green, and,
finally develop into a bright red clove buds, when they are ready for
harvesting. Buds are generally, picked up when they reach 1.5-2 cm
Structurally, each bud consist of long calyx; terminating in four spreading
sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball (dome) at the center.
The sweet aroma of cloves is due to eugenol,
the essential oil in them.
Medicinal properties and health benefits of cloves
The active principles in the clove are known to have antioxidant,
anti-septic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and
soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.
The spice contains many health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, a phenyl-propanoids class of
chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to the
clove-bud. Eugenol has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence;
useful in dental treatment procedures.
The other important constituents in this spice include:-
oils: acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin,
gallotannic acid, methyl
kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin;
triterpenoids: like oleanolic
acid, stigmasterol and campesterol;
and several sesquiterpenes.
The spice also contains good amount of minerals like potassium,
manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium. Potassium in an important
electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and
blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the
antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
This spice is a good source of vitamin-K, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine),
thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C
and riboflavin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop
resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free
See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Cloves (Sygizium aromaticum),
Nutritive Value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
||Percentage of RDA
Selection and storage
The spice is available year around in the
markets. Good quality cloves release sweet fragrance when squeezed between the
thumb and index fingers. In the store, buy whole buds instead of powder since,
oftentimes it may contain adulterated spicy powders. The cloves should be
wholesome with stem and sepals, and compact.
Whole cloves should be stored in cool dark
place, in airtight containers for many months and can be milled using
"hand mill" as and when required. Ground/powder clove should be
stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers and should be used as early
as possible since it loses its flavor quickly.
The essential volatile oils functions as
rubefacient, meaning that it irritates the skin and expands the blood
vessels, increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer, making
it a popular home remedy for arthritis
and sore muscles, used either as a
poultice or in hot baths.
- clove oil is also used in aromatherapy.
In order to keep the fragrance and flavor
intact, clove is generally grounded just before preparing dishes and added at
the last moment in the cooking recipes. This is because prolonged cooking
results in evaporation of its essential oils.
This popular spice has been used in preparation of many popular dishes
in Asian and Chinese cuisine since ancient times. Along with other spices
turmeric, ginger etc...
it is being used in marinating chicken, fish and meats.
Consumption of dishes prepared with large quantity of clove can cause
gastrointestinal irritation, central nervous system disorders. Recipes
prepared with this spice should be avoided in individuals with stomach ulcers,
ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis conditions. Eating clove is also
avoided during pregnancy.
alt="Benefits of Clove Plants to Humans" class="image">
Photo Credit the cloves image by alri from Fotolia.com
Clove is an aromatic herb that is native to
tropical regions of Asia and South America. The dry flower bud of the
clove plant is used as a spice in several cuisines for its taste and
flavor. The oil extracted from the leaves, flower buds and stems of the
clover plant have immense health benefits. Clove oil is generally safe to
use, although mild allergic reactions and skin irritation may sometimes
Sesquiterpene and eugenol compounds present in
clove oil have shown anti-tumor activity in animal models and may have
similar benefits in humans as well. Whole cloves may also protect the
healthy tissues and cells from the harmful effects of chemotherapy drugs.
Always consult a doctor before using cloves as part of cancer therapy.
Eugenol, the main constituent of clove oil, can
reduce fever in febrile rabbits when injected intravenously, says V.A.
Parthasarathy in the book "Chemistry of Spice." The mechanism of
action of eugenol is similar to acetaminophen. It is, in fact, more
effective than acetaminophen for reducing fever in rabbits. However, it is
important to talk to a doctor before replacing antipyretic medications
with clove oil.
MedlinePlus recommend the use of whole cloves and
clove oil to treat upset stomach and diarrhea. They can also provide
relief from intestinal gas, nausea and vomiting. Excessive intake of
cloves may cause heartburn. Hence, do not use cloves to treat gastric
disturbances without consulting a doctor.
The American Cancer Society states that cloves
have been approved by Commission E, Germany's top regulatory agency, to
treat symptoms of toothache. It can also help relieve the pain during
dental procedures and treat the complications associated with tooth
extraction. Clove oil toothpastes are also available.
Clove oil can also be used as an expectorant to
help cough up the phlegm from the respiratory tract. Tea made from clove
buds can also provide relief from sore throat and bronchitis. Talk to a
doctor before using clove oil as an expectorant.
According to V. A. Parthasarathy, author of the
book "Chemistry of Spice," clove oil is a rich source of
antioxidant and helps protect the body from the free radical mediated
damage of body tissues and cells. The antioxidant activity of the eugenol
component of the clove oil and clove leaves is comparable to that of
vitamin E. However, it is best to consult a physician before using large
amounts of cloves.
According to an article published in the Life
Extension magazine, clove oil also possesses antifungal activity and can
considerably reduce the amount of candida colonies in immunosuppressed
animals. Similar effects may occur in humans as well. However, consult
your doctor before replacing antifungal medications with clove oil.
Home Remedies with Clove
Health Benefits of Clove