The very mention of ‘cloves’ brings to one’s mind the vivid pictures of it in the Moghulai biriyani, the Indian pulao or the common man’s betel quid (pan Patti). The clove tree is native to Molucca islands. Historians have recorded its use in China way back in 207 BC, when the Chinese Emperor required his visitors to freshen their breath with a clove. The Greeks also used it in love potions.
A ‘trade war’ was also fought by the Dutch on account of the clove. Though it was well known in the Mediterranean by the fourth century and in Europe by the eighth century it was finally in the eighteenth century when a French adventurer smuggled the seedlings across the Indian Ocean that cloves started being grown world-wide. Today Zanzibar is the leading producer of cloves.
It is amazing to see the straight evergreen tree 10-12 metres in height in full bloom. In China and India it has been used as a spice to check tooth decay and to counter halitosis (bad breath) for over 2000 years.
Clove oil consists of carbohydrates, moisture ,protein, volatile oil, non volatile ether extract (fat),and crude fibre besides mineral matter, ash insoluble in hydrochloric acid, calcium, phosphorus iron ,sodium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins C and A.
The volatile oil acts as –
-A strong germicide
And hence therapeutically used for-
- Dental care
- Wounds and cuts
- Athletic foot
- Fungal infections, prickly heat, acne
- Diabetes –it purifies and controls blood sugar
- Languid indigestion
Clove oil is very strong and hence should be used only in the diluted form. It should not be used on sensitive skin. It blends well with many essential oils. Being an good stimulant it is very effectively used in aromatherapy to arouse courage, waken memory, promoting clear focus, and restore sense of optimism and enjoyment of life.
Interesting to know that it is also used in clove tea, cosmetics, cigarettes, soaps and perfumes.