Syzygium Aromaticum, the scientific name of cloves, is such a versatile plant. As you know the clove oil, distilled from clove bud, root, bark, twig, and fruit, can be used as germicide, spice, mouthwash, local anesthetics for toothache, synthetic vanillin, flavoring agent and enhancer. What’s more, clove can also be utilized as condiments in cooking, cigarette additives, burn incense additives, raw material for tea, and so on. Most importantly, the medicinal uses of clovers are many and no wonder it is one of frequently-used Chinese herbs. In China this herb is called Ding Xiang.
What are cloves?
Also known as FLOS CARYOPHYLLI and Syringa oblata in Latin, it means the dried buds of Eugenia caryophllata Thunb., a tree in the family Myrtaceae. This plant is native to Tanzania, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In China, it is mainly produced in Guangdong, Hainan and other places. Medicinally it is usually harvested from September to the following March when clove bud turns from green to red.
Clove plant is evergreen tree and up to 10 meters. Leaves are opposite and with slender petiole and oblong obovate or elliptic leaf blade. It blooms during autumn. Flowers have strong aroma. The inflorescence is acrogenous thyrses, with about 6mm flower diameter. Berries are red-brown, slightly shiny, rectangular oval, 1 to 2.5cm long, 5 to 12mm in diameter, with fragrant hypertrophy persistent calyx lobes at apex. And there are a few rectangular clove seeds.
Buds contain volatile oil, namely oil of clove. Clove bud oil mainly contains eugenol, acetyl eugenol, B-caryophyllene, methyl n-amyl ketone, methyl salicylate, humulene, benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, m-Anisaldehyde, benzyl acetate, Chavicol, a-ylangene, and so on. Normally eugenol accounts for 64 to 85% in oil of cloves. However, some wild species contain no eugenol but Eugenone and Eugenin. Flower bud also contains triterpenoids such as oleanolic acid, flavonoids, Rham-netin, kaempferol, Eugenin, Eugenitin, Isoeugenitin, and Isoeugenol.
Benefits of cloves
As explained above, the clove oil benefits are really astounding. You know, clove essential oil is regarded as the top ten essential oils with special attributes. In addition to its culinary and medicinal value, it is also a famous ornamental plant for garden thanks to its unique aroma, huge lush inflorescence, elegant and harmonic color, and plump and beautiful gesture. Nevertheless, cloves’ health benefits are the focal point here. As a matter of fact, cloves have long been used in the treatment of burns and toothache.
Modern pharmacological actions
1. Oral administration of this herb can promote the secretion of gastric juice, enhance digestion, relieve nausea and vomiting, reduce abdominal bloating. These evidences showed that it is an aromatic stomachic;
2. Its water extract and ether extract have analgesic, anti-inflammatory effects;
3. Eugenol has anticonvulsant effect;
4. Its decoction inhibits staphylococcus, streptococcus and diphtheria, proteusbacillus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, escherichia coli, shigella dysenteriae, typhoid bacillus, and so on. And it also has a better acaricidal effect;
5. It also has antiplatelet, anticoagulant, antithrombotic, anti-diarrhea, choleretic and anti-hypoxia effects.
Proven cloves related herbal remedies
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbalists believe that it is acrid in taste and warm in properties. It covers 4 meridians, such as spleen, stomach, lung, and kidney. Its major functions are warming middle energizer to descend adverse-rising and reinforcing kidney to strengthen yang. Chief cloves uses and indications are deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach, hiccups and vomiting, reduced appetite due to vomiting and diarrhea, crymodynia in heart and abdomen, ED(erectile dysfunction) due to kidney deficiency, and so on. Recommended dosage is from 1 to 3 grams in decoction.
Ren Shen Ding Xiang San
This formula comes from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It is primarily formulated for adult or infantile unceasing vomiting that leads to throw up anything swallowed, including the decoction. Other main herbal ingredients include Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng), Bai Shao (White Peony Root), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), and so on.
Ding Xiang Jian Wan
This prescription comes from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It is basically designed for discomfort in chest and diaphragm. Other major herbs include Chen Xiang (Agarwood), Huo Xiang (Patchouli), Sha Ren (Cardamon), and more.
Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang
This formula is from Zheng Yin Mai Zhi (Pulses, Causes, Patterns, and Treatments). It is exclusively used for deficiency-cold vomiting. The rest key herbs are Shi Di (Persimmon Calyx), Dang Shen (Codonopsis Root), Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Rhizome), and so on.
Ding Xiang San
This prescription is from Shen Shi Zun Sheng Shu (Master Shen’s Writings on Respecting Life). It is principally used for deficient vomiting and diarrhea and reduced appetite. The remaining herbs are Bai Zhu (Atractylodes), Cardamon, etc.
Cloves are a very popular spice and can be used to make a variety of delicious foods. However, it is not an easy task to use it well. Here are some recommended recipes that are easy to follow. More importantly, it is not only tasty but also visually appealing.
Syrup of plum and clove
Health benefits: This soup is sour and sweet. It helps digest and promote the secretion of saliva.
Ingredients: smoked plum 256g, hawthorn 4g, dried tangerine peel 2g, clove 2g, sugar 1280g, and cinnamon 6g.
Directions: 1. clean plum and hawthorn, smash them, put them into a gauze bag along with the rest ingredients except for sugar, and tightly enclose the bag. 2. Prepare approximately 11 liters of water, place the above-mentioned bag in, boil them up with high heat and then stew them with slow fire for about half an hour, remove the bag after done, left the soup to settle down, filter it out, and finally add sugar. Now it is ready to be served.
Clove Honey Roasted Ham
Ingredients: Smoked pork 5kg or 10kg, whole cloves 20, hot water 4 liters, a little sauces, honey 2 tablespoons, and mustard sauce 3 tablespoons
Directions: 1. Roast the smoked pork for 30 to 40 minutes in order to make it well cooked. 2. Mix the sauces according to your personal taste. Generally the sauces should have a sticky texture. 3. Carve checkerboard grids on the smoked pork with a knife, insert cloves into the grids, each for one, and then spread the sauces evenly on the grids. 4. Throw the smoked pork into the preheated oven at 180 degrees (30 minutes in total), bake for 15 minutes, take it out and repaint again with the remaining sauces, and then bake again for another 15 minutes. 5. It is done when the surface becomes browned and crispy.
Potential cloves side effects and contraindications
The median lethal dose of cloves decoction to mice by intraperitoneal injection is 1.8g/kg. And LD50 by oral administration of the cloves oil in peanut oil solution is 1.6g/kg, manifested as respiratory depression and hind limb weakness. Vomiting and death can occur if dogs are fed orally with clove oil in peanut oil solution at the dose of 5g/kg. And no death but vomiting are found if given just at the dose of 2g/kg. In the case of eugenol was administered orally to rats, the median lethal dose is 1.93g/kg, with poisoning symptoms such as hind limb paralysis, drowsiness, urinary incontinence and hematuria. And remedies, such as picrotoxin, Coraminum, strychnine, caffeine and leptazol, showed no significant effect on the poisoned rats. TCM wise, cloves are contraindicated in any persons who suffer from pyreticosis and internal heat due to yin deficiency. By the way, Ding Xiang herb (Syzygium Aromaticum flower bud) is incompatible with Yu Jin (Tumeric Tuber).