Clove is an important spice that is obtained from the dried flower buds of a tree found in tropical areas. It derives its name from the Latin name clavus, meaning nail owing to its specific shape.
Clove has been a much desired spice since early times. It played an important role in the initial maritime trade. The Chinese mentioned cloves as early as 400 BC. Clove is known for its warm, pungent and aromatic smell and flavour and are best used whole for in their powdered form, the flavour is not the same.
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The Clove tree is a tropical evergreen plant that reaches up to a maximum height of 40 to 45 ft. The tree branches are grey and yellow in colour and kind of horizontal and smooth while the leaves are green and smooth. The fruit of the clove tree is a deep purple in colour, flowers are usually three on a single stalk and all the parts of the tree are aromatic. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds. The clove clusters are picked by hand before the buds open and dried on palm mats.
Curative properties of Clove
The medicinal history of clove has been well documented down the ages. Different ancient civilizations had their own uses for this spice. The ancient Chinese have been using cloves to treat a multitude of diseases ranging from simple indigestion and diarrhea to hernia, ringworm, athlete's foot and other fungal infections while India's traditional Ayurvedic healers have used Cloves to treat both respiratory and digestive ailments. The primary chemical components of clove include eugenol, caryophyllene, and tannins. It is also rich in minerals such as calcium, hydrochloric acid, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamin A and vitamin C.
Uses of Clove
- Clove infusion is known to stop nausea.
- Herbalists recommend clove for stomach digestive disorders.
- Cloves are said to have a positive effect on stomach ulcers, vomiting, flatulence, and to stimulate the digestive system.
- Cloves helps relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract.
Clove essential oil
Clove oil is the oil derived from the cloves. They are essentially of three kinds-
- Bud oil that is obtained from the flower-buds
- Leaf oil that is obtained from the leaves.
- Stem oil that is obtained from the twigs.
Uses of Clove oil
- A few drops of clove oil in water helps against vomiting.
- Essential oil of clove is effective against many bacterias.
- Dentists have used clove oil as an oral anesthetic. They also used it to disinfect root canals
- Cloves are also used for their local antiseptic and mild anesthetic actions.
- Japanese researchers have discovered that like many spices, clove contains antioxidants, which help prevent the cell damage that scientists believe eventually causes cancer.
- Due to its antiseptic properties, clove oil is useful for wound and cuts but it should be used in its diluted form.
- Clove oil is aphrodisiac in nature and hence serves as an excellent stress reliever. It has a stimulating effect on the mind and removes mental exhaustion and fatigue
- A mixture of warm clove oil and sesame oil is a good remedy for earaches.
- It is also used as an all-natural herbicide which is used to kill unwanted weeds.
Things to be careful about
- While clove has its advantages, there does exist the possibility of side effects. Pregnant women should avoid cloves.
- Cloves can also be irritating on the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome.
- A clove overdose can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
- The internal use of the essential oil should be restricted to 3 drops per day for an adult as excessive use can cause severe kidney damage.
Selection and Storage
- To determine the quality of cloves, squeeze with a fingernail. The good quality cloves will release some of their oil.
- Alternatively, one can also put the cloves in a glass of water. The higher quality cloves will float vertically while those that are stale will either sink or float horizontally.
- Always opt for organically grown cloves
- Cloves should be stored in tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cloves will keep for about six months, while whole cloves will stay fresh for about one year stored this way. You can also extend their shelf life by keeping them in the refrigerator.
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