Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the Myrtaceae family. They are native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia and are commonly used as a spice, sold both whole or ground.1 Clove seeds contain at least 15% volatile oil, eugenol, a phytochemical responsible for its effective antiseptic and anesthetic.9 Oil of clove has been used in dental plasters, fillings and cements for many years. Clove gel also provides an effective alternative to benzocaine for topical anesthesia.7
Clove is considered the number one spice when it comes to a true antioxidant superfood.8 A mere half-teaspoon contains as many antioxidants as a half-cup of blueberries.3 Studies show clove capable to reduce blood levels of inflammation in just seven days.8 Clove oil is also a powerful antimicrobial. Research confirms it is effective at inhibiting the growth of foodborne pathogens, certain bacteria, and fungi.8
Clove has an excellent safety profile with few documented adverse reactions. Cloves tend to lose their potency quickly, so it is best to purchase whole cloves verses clove powder.8
In culinary dishes, clove may be used in both sweet and savory dishes; pumpkin pie, curries, chili, ham and beans.