Cloves (Eugenia caryophyllus) are the aromatic unopened pink flower buds of an evergreen tree in the family Myrtaceae. They are picked by hand and dried until they turn brown, proving a hard exterior and oily flesh.
Cloves are native to the Moluccas, an Indonesian group of volcanic islands formerly known as the Spice Islands. History records clove trees were once cultivated almost exclusively in Indonesia and controlled by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC, "United East India Company").
Established in 1602, the VOC is considered the world's first multinational corporation, which enjoyed a spice monopoly throughout most of the 17th century. Supplies at that time were kept low to keep prices high. Any clove trees found not under mastery of the VOC were burned or thrown into the sea as was any harvest above the set limit. So precious were their profits that anyone caught stealing, growing, or just possessing clove plants without authorization was put to death.
In 1770 and from a lone clove tree still found in Indonesia today, French missionary and horticulturalist Pierre Poivre managed to smuggle some seedlings to France, Seychelles Islands, and Zanzibar in eastern Africa.
The spread of cloves for the enjoyment of all has resulted from that smuggling. They are now grown commercially in the West Indies, Brazil, Pemba, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, and Zanzibar with Zanzibar being the lead clove-producing region.
Nutrient dense, cloves contain minerals manganese, calcium, and magnesium as well as dietary fiber, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The active element in cloves is eugenol
Studies of eugenol show it is helpful in prevention of toxicity from envionmental pollutants, such as carbon tetrachloride.
It is also studied for its possible prevention of digestive tract cancers and for treatment of joint inflammation. Highest rated antioxidant on the ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scale, flavonoids kaempferol and rhamnetin contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties found in cloves. Kampferol is also highly anti-bacterial.
Eugenol extracts are often used in dentistry for anesthetic qualities in conjunction with root canal therapy, temporary fillings, and general gum pain. It is also found in sore throat sprays and mouth washes.
The components of clove are volatile so it is best to buy whole cloves versus powder which quickly loses its flavor. Buy them in small glass containers and store tightly sealed in a cool, dark, dry place.
Ground cloves may keep for up to three months, while whole cloves may stay fresh for as long as a year. To test the freshness before using, place them in a cup of water. If they float vertically, they are still of good quality. If they sink or float horizontally, they have lost their edge.
As with most spices, choose organically grown cloves when possible as they are less likely to have been irradiated.
- The protective effects of eugenol on carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
- Holistic natural therapies
- Solstice medicine company
- Doctors Health Press "Researchers at the Department of Pharmacology, University College of Medical Sciences, in Delhi, India conducted a trial involving the essential oil of clove. They tested the effect of the oil on red blood cells and found it caused a significant increase in the primary as well as secondary humoral immune response."