Syzygium aromaticum


The earliest written record of cloves dates back to the Han dynasty in China (207 BC to AD 220), when court officials were made to hold cloves in their mouth when talking to the emperor to make sure their breath was sweet. Later, Arab traders brought cloves to Europe. Herbalists considered clove as ‘the king of spices’ and recommended it for people with toothache (it acts as a local anaesthetic) and digestive disorders. Clove is a proven natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory that boosts the digestion and relieves heartburn, nausea, flatulence, colic and pain caused by peptic ulcers. Cloves also play a role as a preservative – those strong, claw-like little buds that dot your Christmas ham act both to keep the meat fresh and to add flavour.

Parts used

The dried flower buds or the essential oil distilled from them.


The principal active ingredient in clove extract is an aromatic chemical compound called eugenol. Eugenol fights bacteria and inhibits the growth of many fungi (it also prevents food spoiling). Other compounds in cloves are flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids and triterpenes, which have anti-inflammatory properties.They also contain manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and vitamins A, B-complex and C.

Medicinal uses

The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cloves mean that the spice is hugely beneficial to health. It may even protect you against heart disease and keep cancer at bay. Clove is prescribed to:

Artichoke is prescribed to:

  • Boost the digestion, relieving heartburn, nausea, flatulence, colic and pain caused by peptic ulcers.
  • Use in conjunction with Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) to soothe pain caused by peptic ulcers.
  • Treat inflammation of the mucous lining of the mouth and throat and provide relief from respiratory tract infections.
  • Help ease toothache.
  • Use with Walnut (Juglans nigra) to help rid the body of parasitic infections.
  • Cloves used with Wormwood Artemisia absinthinium, will eliminate the parasites in the egg stage.
  • May help in the treatment of malaria, TB and cholera.
  • May help ward off cancer
  • May protect against heart disease.


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Large amounts of cloves or clove oil may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. It may also burn the mouth and throat, and cause difficulty breathing. More serious effects have been reported in young children, even with small doses. Avoid clove if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always consult your natural healthcare practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.

Flora Force Products containing Clove


Domestic & culinary uses

Cloves are used to add a sweet, spicy flavour to savoury dishes such as baked ham, curries and fish pie and sweet goodies too (think of a rich fruit cake or apple pie). They are also added to pickles. You can use cloves whole or ground. Whole cloves will keep for about a year in a cool, dark cupboard.


Clove trees do well in the warm, humid climates of places such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Tanzania. Today, Tanzania produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s cloves. The trees take six to eight years to flower, and remain productive for up to 60 years. In gardens they thrive in tropical areas in rich, loamy soil with high humus content – they will not grow where the temperatures drop below 10 °C. Cloves require lots of water all year.

Acknowledgements & credits

Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer



  1. Cloves photo courtesy of Kitchen_Shaman /
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.