CLOVES, Caryophyllus aromatica

Clove Plant

Way back in the second century BC, people thought cloves were very special herbs. There were some Chinese physicians who wrote about an Emperor in the Han Dynasty. They said the Emperor would not speak to anyone unless they had been chewing on some cloves as a breathe freshener. They went on to say that it wasn't just because folks in those days had bad halitosis and would offend this great potentate, but that cloves would act as an antiseptic and protect His Majesty from getting someone's germs. (You know, the guy was pretty smart.)

The first cloves came from the Molucca Islands in South East Asia. When the first spice trade was started, most of the cloves came from Sumatra and Malaysia. Cloves were in such great demand that by the fourth century, traders tried to grow cloves everywhere. However, the clove tree needs a very warm, moist climate. The weather on the Island of Zanzibar just off Tanzania on the east cost Africa, was just right for the clove tree, consequently a lot are grown there. They are also grown in the West Indies, the East Indies, India and Brazil.

The clove tree is evergreen with a leaf that is thick and leathery and is about five inches long. The leaf is ovate or oblong with a point and it is a shiny green. The clove tree will grow to a height for about 30 feet. The whole tree is aromatic. It will start to produce buds when it is about 6 years old, and it keeps producing buds for about 20 more years. These trees need an awful lot of water. That's why most of them grow on seacoasts or on islands where the air is moist and warm. The bud or the clove is develops during the monsoon or rainy season. The clove is the bud of the flower that has not yet matured. They grow in cymes or terminal clusters at the tip of the branch. When cloves are picked, they are white or light pink. If the flower were allowed to mature, the bloom would be a crimson or pale purple. After the unripe buds are dried, they turn a dark brown.

The clove is perhaps the most aromatic of all the herbs. Originally it was only used as a spice to make things taste good and smell good. However, over the centuries, people have found that it has many more uses than being just a good smelling spice.

Cloves are great stimulants. They have been used to stimulate the excretory organs and disinfect the kidneys, skin, liver and bronchial mucous membrane. As a stomachic, they will sooth an upset stomach; as a digestive they will help the stomach to digest the food.; as a carminative they will help to overcome the gas in the digestive tract; as an expectorant they will help to remove the mucus and phlegm from the bronchial and sinus areas; as an anathematic they will settle an upset stomach, help in car or motion sickness, and help a prospective mother with morning sickness; as an antispasmodic they will soothe frayed nerves; as an anathematic, they will help to get rid of worms and parasites. Cloves are used in Grandma's herbal Energy formula.

As a condiment, cloves sure make food taste better. They are also one of the oldest toothache remedies there is, and some dentists still use clove oil as a germicide to disinfect a tooth filling. I have read accounts where clove water has been used to wash a sickroom and where dry cloves are roasted in a dry pan to help disinfect and freshen sickrooms when nothing else is available.

I always carry a few cloves in my jacket pocket. When I sang with a group, most guys would ask for a clove before the program. It helps to clear a frog from your throat when you sing or when you speak. Also, after you have had a big salad with onions, it's smart to chew a clove. It's a great breathe sweetener and a germicidal.
Most folks have cloves in their cupboards, why not use them?

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