A member of the myrtle family (myrtacea) the clove tree was so popular in the Far East spice islands in the early sixteen hundreds that it was the cause of bitter trade wars between European nations. This resulted in Holland gaining a monopoly after destroying all the trees apart from those growing on an island they owned, Ambon. The monopoly was eventually broken in the last half of the eighteenth century by the French who smuggled cloves out of the East Indies and introduced the plant to the islands of the Indian Ocean and the New World. By the start of the nineteenth century there were plantations of clove trees in many tropical islands. Today major producers included Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), and Indonesia.
Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic qualities, which made it popular in folk medicine. For generations dentists, herbalists, and folk healers have recommended cloves or the oil of cloves for toothache. The essential oil is rich in eugenol and eugenyl acetate and is used by dentists for fillings and to help numb the gums prior to giving injections before extractions or other painful dental work.
Cloves are the dried unopened flower buds of a rain forest tree, which is a close relative of lilly pillies that are native to Australia and include some varieties that have clove-scented fruits and leaves.The warm and pungent scent of cloves makes it a popular additive to lotions, toothpastes and soaps.
Cloves as a Herbal Remedy
Clove tea can be made by infusing ten cloves in a cup (250ml) of boiling water for ten minutes. Take as required to allay nausea and vomiting and to stimulate the digestive system. Alternatively one or two drops can be taken on a lump of sugar. Fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete's foot can be healed by applying clove tincture.
Essential oil and flower buds.
Anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, stimulant, and prevents vomiting.
Caution: Always take the recommended dose of the essential oil, avoid it during pregnancy and don't use it on babies and children. Cloves is best avoided altogether during pregnancy.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.