Lauren Stauber, Certified Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist, Licensed Massage Therapist
Unopened flower bud. Essential oil derived from leaf, bud, or stem.
Evocative of mulled wine and baked apples, the sweet, pungent scent of Clove warms the senses and whets the appetite. Clove buds are the unopened tiny red blossoms of a tropical evergreen tree native to the Maluku "Spice" Islands of Indonesia. The English name is derived from Latin "clāvus", which means "nail", referring to the nail-like shape of the bud. This tree is happiest in wet tropical climates, but only produces blossoms after 20 years of growth, which might explain why it was once worth its weight in gold. Treasured for thousands of years across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and later Europe, Clove was central to a number of spice trade wars, and coveted for its culinary and medicinal uses.
Traditional uses of Clove include warming the body, stimulating the digestive system, reducing flatulence, easing nausea and hiccups, clearing sinus and lung congestion, and expelling worms. Clove has been valued as a powerful antiseptic and antimicrobial herb and can be found in blends for warding off disease-causing germs both topically and internally. Topically, the essential oil has been prized for quelling the pain of toothaches, and as an addition to massage oils for relieving painful joints and muscles. Clove also has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac, and is used in perfumery and liquors, as well as foods and herbal "love" potions. It has even been smoked in the form of an Indonesian cigarette called "kretek". Also, it is the preferred breath freshener of ancient Chinese royalty, where visitors to the Han Dynasty court were made to sweeten their breath with this potent little flower before addressing the Emperor.
As the season grows colder and the nights longer, Clove offers some delicious possibilities in the kitchen. A lovely accent to cooked fruits, syrups, stews, soups, and spicy teas, this little blossom can warm us from the inside out, while supporting good health, good digestion, and brightening our spirits.
Cautions and Contraindications
Use clove with caution in cases of excess heat or Pitta. Clove can be overly warming to the body if overused. The essential oil of clove is strong enough to burn the skin and should be used in dilutions of 1% (5 - 6 drops per 1 oz. of carrier oil) or less.
Recipes (parts are by volume)
Warm Belly Tea
Lemon Balm 2 parts
Licorice 1/2 part
Ginger 1/4 - 1/2 part (to taste)
Cardamom seeds or crushed pods 1/4 part
Clove 1/8 part
1 Tbs. herbs per 1 cup boiled water. Cover and steep 10 - 20 minutes.
Cacao Rose Chai
Cacao Nibs 1 part
Red Rose Petal 1 part
Cinnamon 1 part
Ginger 1/2 - 1 part to taste
Licorice 1/2 - 1 part to taste
Cardamom 1/8 part
Clove 1/8 part
Nutmeg 1/8 part
1 Tbs. herbs per 1 cup liquid. Simmer 10 minutes in whole milk, coconut milk, rice milk with a dollop of ghee or oil, something fatty. Sweeten to taste with honey.
The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra
The Earthwise Herbal (Old World) by Matthew Wood
Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha Lad and Dr. Vasant Lad
Mother Nature's Herbal by Judy Griffin