Cloves: 10 Health Benefits & How to Use Them

Cloves have a medicinal action that can be beneficial in managing pain, treating infections and increasing sexual desire. 

Scientifically known as Syzygium aromaticus, cloves are also a great source of many nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin E and beta-carotene. It can be used in its natural form and added to many meals, or it can be used as a cream or oil for cosmetic purposes. 

Cloves are easily purchased in grocery stores or pharmacies. You can also find it in natural health stores as an essential oil.

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

The main health benefits of cloves include: 

1. Fighting infections

Due to its antimicrobial action, cloves can be used to fight bacterial infections (especially estafilococos and E. coli bacteria) as well as fungal infections. This action is believed to be related to the presence of eugenol, methyl salicylate, kaemferol, gallic acid and oleanolic acid commonly found in cloves.  

These components seem to denature the proteins that react with the cellular membrane of bacteria. They alter membrane permeability and prevent them from developing and multiplying. 

2. Preventing cancer

Cloves contain a high concentration of phenolic compounds, which give them an antioxidant action. They protect the body from serious chronic illnesses, like cancer, by fighting free radicals that cause damage to tissues in the body..

3. Decreasing pain

Eugenol is one of the most recognized components of cloves. It is well studies and has been used for many years in the dental field to reduce pain and inflammation from dental procedures. 

According to many studies, eugenol acts by suppressing prostaglandins and other inflammatory mediators to reduce the sensitivity of pain receptors. 

4. Repelling mosquitos and other insects 

Cloves contain a natural aroma that repels insects, as its characteristic smell is generally unpleasant to bugs. To use it as an insect repellent in the kitchen, simply crush the cloves and leave them on a plate on top of the kitchen table. You can also stick individual cloves into a lemon or orange to repel bugs. 

You can also purchase specific products that contain clove oil, like candles, to keep insects away. 

5. Stimulating sexual desire

Clove extract is a great home remedy for sexual impotence. It contains many aphrodisiac properties that can increase libido. 

6. Treating bad breath

Due to its antiseptic properties and natural aromas, cloves can be used as a natural way to treat bad breath. To reap this benefit, you can chew on a clove until it is fully grinded in the mouth before spitting it out. You can also make clove tea and use it as a gargle to treat foul-smelling breath.

 7. Promoting optimal digestion

Cloves can also improve digestion and help to control diarrhea. They activate enzymes that help with food breakdown in the stomach and intestine. Cloves can also be used to treat intestinal gas, especially when consumed as a tea following a gas-inducing meal (like black beans, broccoli or cauliflower).  

8. Speeding-up wound healing 

When applied directly to the skin, clove oil or a plant-based cream with cloves can help to promote healing. It also reduces inflammation and irritation due to its antiseptic action. Cloves can be a great way to heal small anal fissures.

9. Relaxing the muscles and treating fatigue 

Clove essential oil can help to relax muscles and may be used as a massage oil or as a gel applied to tired or injured muscles . Due to its characteristic aroma, it is also a great option for treating fatigue and melancholia. It can improve your mood so that you can participate in your day-to -day activities.

10. Decreasing blood pressure 

Some studies on cloves have shown that clove essential oil contains a hypotensive action. It can promote the relaxation (or dilation) of blood vessels, leading to reduced blood pressure. However, the use of cloves for blood pressure management has not yet been formally approved. 

How to use cloves 

Cloves can be included in cakes, bread, desserts and soup broths. However, consuming cloves in tea form will guarantee the most therapeutic benefits, particularly when clove tea is made with cinnamon, lemon or ginger. 

  • Tea from fresh cloves: Place 10g of cloves in a pot with 1 L of water, and boil for 15 minutes. Then allow to cool, strain, and drink up to 3 times per day. 
  • Tea from powdered cloves: : Take 300 to 500 mg of powder diluted in water, 2 to 3 times per day.  
  • Using essential oils: Apply 2 or 3 drops on a cotton ball, and apply where desired. 

Clove preparations like creams or gels can be found in natural health product stores or compound pharmacies. 

Special considerations

Cloves are contraindicated for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, and by children under 6 years old, as there are no studies to guarantee its safety. It is also not recommended for people with a history of gastritis or ulcers.

Cloves can cause skin irritation and digestive tract irritation in some people, therefore it should be used as directed by a doctor or medicinal plant specialist. 

Cloves contain a substance called eugenol, which can delay blood clotting. Therefore, clove tea should not be used for up to 2 weeks before a planned surgery.