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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
February 2011

Traditional Uses of Clove

In traditional medicine, clove has primarily been used for digestive and respiratory disorders, and as a breath freshener and male aphrodisiac. In addition, suggested modern medicinal applications of clove have included treatment of anal fissures, dry socket, fever, premature ejaculation and tension headache, as well as use for dental hygiene and as an insect repellent. However, while some initial research regarding these applications has indicated possible benefit, further clinical evidence is needed.

Ayurveda: In Ayurvedic medicine, clove is purportedly used to treat respiratory system conditions such as the common cold, cough, sore throat, laryngitis and asthma. It is also used for digestive disorders, such as indigestion and vomiting, and as a male aphrodisiac. Clove is considered a warming herb, and is often recommended for people with a "kapha dosha," an Ayurvedic term used to describe a body type characterized by cold, wet, heavy and slow functioning.

Clove is a common ingredient in chai, a spiced black tea beverage used throughout India that includes other herbs also believed to be "warming tonics," such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn and star anise. Clove is also included with many of the same herbs (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and peppercorn) in Yogi Bhajan's "Yogi Tea," used as a general tonic tea for a wide range of applications, including digestive disorders, blood purification, immunostimulation and as an antiparasitic. A mixture of betel leaf, betel nut, lime, clove and other spices is traditionally chewed after meals to sweeten the breath.

Chinese: In traditional Chinese medicine, clove may be used to treat indigestion, hiccups, nausea, vomiting, impotence, ringworm and athlete's foot and other fungal infections. It is also believed to fortify the kidney.

European: Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century German abbess, mystic, and naturalist, recommended clove for nasal congestion, intestinal swelling, gout, and hiccups. In England during the Middle Ages, clove-based poultices were applied to lesions caused by bubonic plague.

Modern (Western) herbal medicine: Clove is supposedly recommended by herbalists to stimulate digestion, improve circulation, and warm the body. It is also suggested for health concerns, including the common cold, cough, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, halitosis, hiccups, indigestion, laryngitis, parasites and vomiting. Clove oil is used topically for toothache and acne.

For more information about clove, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.


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The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.