Clove

Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. The buds are picked by hand when they are pink and dried until they turn brown in color. Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Mystaceae, Although cloves have a very hard exterior, their flesh features an oily compound that is essential to their nutritional and flavor profile. This tiny little spice has many curative properties. Traditionally cloves are used as a table spice and mixed with chillies, cinnamon, turmeric and other spices in the preparation of curry powder. They are also used to flavour paan. Clove oil is used in the manufacture of perfumes, soaps, bath salts and as a flavouring agent in medicine and dentistry. Cloves help stimulate sluggish circulation and thereby promote digestion and metabolism. In Chinese medicine, it is used for vomiting, indigestion and other related problems. If you are feeling stressed then, boil some water with basil leaves, mint leaves and clove. Then you can use this water for black tea. Add little bit of honey to it. This will help you ease tension.

Medicinal Uses

  • The essential oil, eugenol in this spice has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local-anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum.
  • Eugenol also has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, but further detailed studies required to establish its benefits.
  • The decoction is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine preparations.
  • It is also thought to have natural anti-parasite (kills intestinal worms) function.
  • The essential volatile oils functions as a rubefacient, meaning that it irritates the skin and expands the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer, making it a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, used either as a poultice or in hot baths.
  • Clove oil is also used in aromatherapy.

Culinary uses

In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, clove is generally grounded just before preparing dishes and added at the last moment in the cooking recipes. This is because prolonged cooking results in evaporation of its essential oils.

  • This popular spice has been used in preparation of many regular dishes in Asian and Chinese cuisine since ancient times. Along with other spices like pepper, turmeric, ginger etc. is being used in marinating chicken, fish, and meat.
  • Some of Indian vegetarian, chicken and rice dishes (biriyani) contain cloves and in the Middle East, it is used in meat and rice dishes.
  • The spice also features in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as one of the ingredients in curry powders.

Medicinal properties and health benefits of cloves

  • The active principles in the clove are known to have antioxidant, anti-septic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.
  • The spice contains health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol. It is a phenyl-propanoids class of chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to the clove-bud. Eugenol has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence; useful in dental care essentials as well as in treatment procedures.
  • The other important constituents in this spice include: essential oils: acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin, crategolic acid; tannins: gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate (painkiller);the flavonoids: eugenin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin; triterpenoids: such as oleanolic acid, stigmasterol and campesterol and several sesquiterpenes.
  • The active principles in the clove may increase gut motility as well as improve the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. Thus, helps relieve indigestion and constipation problems.
  • The spice also contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium. Potassium is an important electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme,superoxide dismutase.
  • Further, the spice buds contain very good amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene levels. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required by the body for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin in addition to essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Additionally, this spice is a good source of vitamin-K, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1),vitamin-C and riboflavin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

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