Dried cloves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Botanical Name : Syzigium aromaticum
Species: S. aromaticum
Common Names: Indian name Laung.In Urdu it is called as ‘Laong’. In Kerala state (India) it is called ‘Grampoo’ in Malayalam. In Hindi, it’s called ‘Lavang’ and many Indian languages have names similar to it, e.g. in Marathi, it is called as “Lavang”, whereas In Telugu, it is called ‘Lavangam’, plural ‘Lavangalu’ . In Kannada, it is called ‘Lavanga’. In Sinhala it is called ‘Karabu Nati. The Tamil language uses both the native (kirambu) and also the Sanskrit-derived(lavangam).
In Vietnam, it is called ?inh huong. In Indonesia it is called cengkeh or cengkih.Cloves are also known as ‘giroflier’ in French; ‘Gewürznelkenbaum’ in German; ‘cravo-da-Índia’, ‘cravo-das-molucas’, and ‘cravo-de-doce’ in Portuguese; and ‘árbol del clavo’, ‘clavero giroflé’, and ‘clavo de olor’ in Spanish.
Habitat : Cloves are native to the Spice Islands and the Philippines but also grown in India, Sumatra, Jamaica, the West Indies, Brazil, and other tropical areas.
The clove is an evergreen tree, 15 to 30 feet tall. It has opposite, ovate leaves more than 5 inches long; and its flowers, when allowed to develop, are red and white, bell-shaped, and grow in terminal clusters. The familiar clove used in the kitchen is the dried flower bud. The fruit is a one- or two-seeded berry.
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The clove tree is endemic in the North Moluccas (Indonesia) and was of old cultivated on the islands of Ternate, Tidore, Bacan and the West coast of Halmahera. The Dutch extended cultivation to several other islands in the Moluccas, but only after the end of the Dutch monopoly (18.th century), clove trees were introduced to other countries
Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly.
Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian). In North Indian cuisine, it is used in almost all rich or spicy dishes as an ingredient of a mix named garam masala, along with other spices, although it is not an everyday ingredient for home cuisine, nor is it used in summer very often. In the Maharashtra region of India it is used sparingly for sweet or spicy dishes, but rarely in everyday cuisine. In Ayurvedic medicine it is considered to have the effect of increasing heat in system, hence the difference of usage by region and season. In south Indian cuisine, it is used extensively in biryani along with “cloves dish” (similar to pilaf, but with the addition of other spices), and it is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.
Dried cloves are also a key ingredient in Indian masala chai, spiced tea, a special variation of tea popular in some regions, notably Gujarat. In the US, it is often sold under the name of “chai” or “chai tea”, as a way of differentiating it from other types of teas sold in the US.
In Mexican cuisine, cloves are best known as ‘clavos de olor’, and often used together with cumin and cinnamon.
In Vietnamese cuisine, cloves are often used to season the broth of Pho.
Due to the Indonesian influence, the use of cloves is widespread in the Netherlands. Cloves are used in cheeses, often in combination with cumin. Cloves are an essential ingredient for making Dutch speculaas. Furthermore, cloves are used in traditional Dutch stews like hachee.
The spice is used in a type of cigarette called kretek in Indonesia. Kreteks have been smoked throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2009, clove cigarettes (as well as fruit and candy flavored cigarettes) were outlawed in the US. However, they are still sold in similar form, re-labeled as “filtered clove cigars.”
Cloves are also an important incense material in Chinese and Japanese culture. And clove essence is commonly used in the production of many perfumes.
During Christmas, it is a tradition in some European countries to make pomanders from cloves and oranges to hang around the house. This spreads a nice scent throughout the house and acts as holiday decorations.
Cloves are often used as incense in the Jewish practice called Havdala
Clove oil anesthesia and overdose is considered a humane method for euthanizing fish.
Eugenol comprises 72-90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves, and is the compound most responsible for the cloves’ aroma. Other important essential oil constituents of clove oil include acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin; crategolic acid; tannins, gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate (painkiller); the flavonoids eugenin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin; triterpenoids like oleanolic acid, stigmasterol and campesterol; and several sesquiterpenes.
Eugenol has pronounced antiseptic and anaesthetic properties. Of the dried buds, 15 – 20 percent is essential oils, and the majority of this is eugenol. A kilogram (2.2 lbs) of dried buds yields approximately 150 ml (1/4 of pint) of eugenol.
Eugenol can be toxic in relatively small quantities—as low as 5 ml.
Traditional Chinese physicians have long used the herb to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernia, and ringworm, as well as athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. India’s traditional Ayurvedic healers have used clove since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments. America’s 19th century Eclectic physicians used clove to treat digestive complaints and added it to bitter herb-medicine preparations to make them more palatable. The Eclectics were also the first to extract clove oil from the herbal buds. It has antiseptic, stimulant, stomachic and digestive properties. As an anti-infectant, cloves are effective against coli bacilli, streptococci, staphylococci, pneumococci and as an antimycotic. The oil, too, is used in dentistry for its antiseptic and analgesic properties, and, like the whole cloves and powdered cloves, for local pain-relieving purposes. Eugenol is a local anesthetic used in dental fillings and cements; a rubifacient and a carminative. It is also an irritant and an allergic sensitizer. Besides all their other uses, cloves can be used to treat acne, skin ulcers, sores, and styes. They also make a potent mosquito and moth repellent which is where the clove studded orange pomander comes from.
Traditional medicinal uses:
Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and western herbalism and dentistry, where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen are said to warm the digestive tract. Clove oil, applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, also relieves toothache. It also helps to decrease infection in the teeth due to its antiseptic properties.
In Chinese medicine cloves or ding xiang are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, entering the kidney, spleen and stomach meridians, and are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct stomach qi downward, to treat hiccough and to fortify the kidney yang. Because the herb is so warming it is contraindicated in any persons with fire symptoms and according to classical sources should not be used for anything except cold from yang deficiency. As such it is used in formulas for impotence or clear vaginal discharge from yang deficiency, for morning sickness together with ginseng and patchouli, or for vomiting and diarrhea due to spleen and stomach coldness. This would translate to hypochlorhydria. Clove oil is used in various skin disorders like acne, pimples etc. It is also used in severe burns, skin irritations and to reduce the sensitiveness of skin.
Cloves may be used internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis. This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Some recommend avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.
In West Africa, the Yorubas use cloves infused in water as a treatment for stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhea. The infusion is called Ogun Jedi-jedi.
Western studies have supported the use of cloves and clove oil for dental pain. However, studies to determine its effectiveness for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation have been inconclusive. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.
Tellimagrandin II is an ellagitannin found in S. aromaticum with anti-herpesvirus properties.
The buds have anti-oxidant properties
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.