Cloves - Research:
Currently, there are no clinical studies available on the internal or external uses of clove.
A native custom of the Molucca Islands was to plant a tree whenever a child was born, thus producing many clove trees.4 Consequently, the Molucca Islands became known as the Spice Islands.
Clove oil has traditionally been used for culinary2 and medicinal purposes.3 In Asian medicine, dried flower buds of clove were used to treat toothaches.5 A major chemical component of clove, eugenol, is used in dental analgesic products.6
Today, clove and clove extracts are used as a flavoring for foods, beverages, and cigarettes8 and in cosmetics and perfumery.2 Clove cigarettes (kreteks) contain ground clove, mainly because eugenol is said to numb the throat.8 Clove extracts may be used in cosmetics and perfumery for their antioxidant effects as well as their pleasant fragrance.2
Flower heads are handpicked from the tree before they blossom in order to get whole cloves, possibly explaining their high value.7 In addition, clove trees require volcanic, loamy soil and much rainfall with moderate temperatures throughout the year limiting where it can be commercially grown.9
To assure a quality product, it is important to know how to choose good quality cloves. Quality cloves are fat, oily, and dark brown, while low quality cloves are dry and pale.3
1 Bailey LH, Bailey EZ. Hortus Third: A Consice Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York:Macmillan Publishing Company;1976.
2 Williamson EM. Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia. Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel Company, Limited;2003.
3 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol I. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.; 1971.
4 Gladen C. Cloves. 2005. Available at: http://www.bell.lib.umn.edu/Products/cloves.html. Accesed February 3, 2005.
5 Miyazawa M, Hisama M. Antimutagenic Activity of Phenylpropanoids from Clove (Syzygium aromaticum). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2003. 51:6413-6422.
6 Eugenol. Chemistry.org, The Website of the American Chemical Society. Available at: http://www.chemistry.org/portal/a/c/s/1/acsdisplay.html?DOC=HomeMolecule%5Carchive%5Cmotw_eugenol_arch.html. Accessed April 22, 2005.
7 Hill M, Barclay G, Hardy J. Southern Herb Growing. Fredericksburg, TX:Shearer Publishing;1997.