Syzygium aromaticum

Origin - West Indies, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka

Part of the Plant used - Bud portion; not the leaf

Description - Cloves is obtained from the distillation of small flower buds of the tropical evergreen tree, Syzygium aromaticum. It is also known as the Eugenia caryophyllata. It is native to Madagascar and Moluccas, one of the spice islands of Indonesia. The trees grow to a height of 25 to 40 feet and each tree produces about 75 pounds of dried buds. The abundant clusters of small, red flower buds are harvested just before blooming and are dried. They become hard, brown, and peg-like in appearance.

Pharmacology - The active chemical compounds found in cloves include: caryophyllene, acetoeugenol, eugenyl acetate and eugenol. These are the active compounds thought to impart the powerful antiseptic, analgesic and anti-parasitic effects of cloves. Other purported therapeutic benefits of clove include aphrodisiac, expectorant, antineuralgic, antifungal and stimulating properties. Because of these properties of cloves, it has often been used to aid poor digestion, sickness (colds and coughs), low blood pressure, ringworm, and fatigue. Because it is an excellent analgesic, it may be utilized to reduce pain. As mentioned before, cloves offer an excellent way to reduce tooth-pain. Similarly, cloves have antispasmodic action on the muscles to reduce inflammation and cramps.

Medicinal uses - Clove is used in cooking, soaps, perfumes and natural mouthwashes. Its flavor is pungent with menthol-type aftertaste. Clove is typically combined with ylang, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, tea tree oil, peppermint and bay leaf. The active ingredient in clove oil is eugenol. In addition to antibacterial effects, it is a powerful topical anesthetic. These two very important qualities make clove oil an ideal mouthwash ingredient.

Clove is one of the most common ingredients found in natural mouthwashes. One of the reasons for its standard participation in natural mouthwashes is because of the high concentration of essential oils naturally found in cloves. As such, it offers a powerful anti-odor effect while doing so with minimal concentration. Specifically, clove extracts will be found in combination with extracts of peppermint and cinnamon oil. Other herbs found to complement cloves are bay leaf, vanilla, ginger and cardamom. Natural mouthwashes utilize a few drops (five to 10) of extract for every four ounces of boiling distilled water. Usually, the liquid-to-oil mouthwash combination is then filtered to remove impurities.

Contra-indications - Do not use if hypertensive, on skin, or if pregnant.

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