The holiday season is one filled with aromatic aromas created by diffused oils and delicious recipes reserved for these special occasions. Memories of Grandma’s cooking with the slight smell of cloves wafting from her fresh baked cakes and cookies attest to the delightful and poignant odor of cloves that she used in her cooking. Cloves is available as a powder which requires only a smidgeon amount to reap its satisfying flavor and yummy goodness. At times I’ve seen numerous pieces of cloves with their shaft stuck into an apple or an orange creating a type of potpourri to freshen a dresser drawer, a closet, or even a room. Cloves also comes as a delectable oil. When a few drops are placed in a diffuser the oil permeates the air and becomes a pleasant air freshener.
Anciently, cloves was a common addition in Indian and Chinese cuisines. Its use dates back to 2000 B.C. Although a native to Indonesia its popularity spread into Europe as well. Today, it is mostly grown in Eastern Africa.
An interesting fact about cloves is it’s actually the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree. This tree produces clove buds which look like a tiny flower bud with a short shaft. In Europe, during the 15th century, plagues were killing many. Exposure to an infected person or corpse spelt quick agonizing death. Amazingly enough, thieves seemed untouched by the catastrophic plagues as they went into areas of death and robbed deceased bodies of their material goods. Research has discovered that these criminals would lather oils on themselves prior to contacting infected bodies and came out unscathed by the diseases. Cloves was one of the oils included in their protecting concoctions.
The health benefits of cloves are associated with its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, aphrodisiac and stimulating properties. It can be found as an important element in some toothpastes, mouth washes, and medications directed towards oral care. The active ingredient “eugenol oil” is the responsible agent for:
- Relieving toothaches
- Easing indigestion
- Suppressing coughs
- Chewing a clove bud can help mitigate a sore throat and simultaneously freshen the breath
- Relieving head and neck pain
- Relieving pain in joints and muscles with its anti-inflammatory properties. It is sometimes included in massage oils to promote relaxation.
- Tempering stress with its unmistakable and revitalizing aroma
- Reducing impurities in the blood
- Aiding in the healing of wounds, bruises, and even attacks the fungus associated with athlete’s foot
- Supporting the immune system with its antioxidants
- Clove can support circulation which brings oxygen rich blood to all organs improving their functioning and raising the metabolism.
- Many insects detest the aroma of cloves which makes it a good insect repellent.
Cloves is very powerful and therefore it is advised that small amounts be used at one time and combined with a carrier oil or some other type of dilution method. However, this should not be a deterrent to enjoying the many benefits of this amazing oil and spice.