Herbs: Cloves (Syzygium Aromaticum)

clovesThe origins of the word clove comes from the Latin word “clavus”, meaning nail. Cloves (Syzygium Aromaticum) are natives to Indonesia and are mostly known for being warm and spicy but also have a strong relationship with pain relief, easing nausea and vomiting, and improving digestion. They are very effective in increasing circulation,  treating indigestion and flatulence, warming the body, nausea and vomiting (Tierra, 1998, p.75). Cloves have some preservative, antiseptic, expectorant, anesthetic, and emmenogogue properties, effective in treating kidneys, the spleen and the stomach. Allspice (Pimenta officinalis) has similar properties.

In combination with bay leaves, cinnamon, and marjoram cloves as a hot tea help asthma, coughs, infection, bronchitis, tuberculosis, altitude sickness, nervous stomach, diarrhea, dyspepsia, gastroenteritis, the side effects of lobelia, and depression, and some claim it helps in getting a good night’s sleep.

A mixture of cloves and ginger helps in stopping vomiting and reducing stomachaches. Together with basil, it is supposed to be able to detox the body. Cloves have been used for failing eyesight and according to Gottlieb (1995, p.536) for tooth problems, as well as a earaches by putting a little warmed oil of clove on a piece of cotton and into your ear.

Cloves also kill intestinal parasites and act as an antimicrobial agent against fungi and bacteria, it has been used to treat bad breath (Gottlieb, 1995, p.200). Cloves also have been suggested to have antihistamine properties.

Cloves have a positive and stimulating effect on the mind for aromatherapy purposes. In Indonesia many people smoke clove cigarettes but links have been found between clove cigarettes and adult respiratory distress syndrome, such as hemorrhagic pulmonary edema, pneumonia, bronchitis, and hemoptysis.

Many people use whole cloves when they cook ham by sticking the spiky part around the outer surfaces of the ham to add extra flavor. Indian curries can not do without cloves but it is also used in pickles, sauces, Worcestershire sauce, and even spice cakes.

Throughout history cloves has maintained its popularity, by being passed down through generations. Some still use it as a spice and some for minor dentistry and even still more for the purpose of aromatherapy.

Related: Growing Ginger Guide – How to Grow Ginger At Home


Gottlieb, B. (1995). New Choices in Natural Healing. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press Inc.

Tierra, M. (1998). The way of the herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

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