CLOVES, Syzygium aromaticum


Latin name:   Syzygium aromaticum
English name: Cloves

Indian/Sanskrit name: Lavanga, Devakusuma

Medicinal parts used: Dried unopened flower buds

Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. This small reddish-brown flower bud resembles a tiny nail head. The name clove is believed to be derived either from the Latin word ‘clavus’ or the French word ‘clou’ which means nail. It is native to Moluccas or Spice Islands (Indonesia) but is also grown in India, Sumatra, Jamaica, the West Indies, Brazil and other tropical areas. This pyramidal evergreen clove tree, grows up to 15 to 30 feet tall, has smooth grey bark and ovate 5 inches long leaves with small bell-shaped white flowers which grow in terminal clusters. The flower buds are greenish and turn pink at maturity. The seeds are oblong, soft, grooved on one side.

All parts of the clove tree are highly aromatic. Dried flower bud, which gives a sharp and spicy flavour, either whole or ground are used for culinary purposes. It is one of the most important drugs used in indigenous medicine in India, especially in Unani medicine. Clove is reported as an aphrodisiac, stomachic, carminative, and antispasmodic. It is reported to be useful in conceiving in high doses and act as a contraceptive in low doses and useful in cataract. Clove is also reported to have anticarcinogenic property. It possesses antiviral activity against Herpes simplex.

Therapeutic use:

  • Clove oil has got analgesic properties and applied locally in swollen gum and in toothache.
  • The use of clove in food and condiments triggers the body to secrete antioxidant enzymes which prevents the body from oxidative damage.
  • Reduces the excess fat and lipid from the body.
  • Clove oil has good antiviral, antibacterial properties and used in traditional medicine as a bactericide, fungicide, can prevent the body from infections and is a good antiseptic.


Large amounts should be avoided in pregnancy. Cloves can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In overdoses – sometimes referred to with the neologism ‘clover doses’ – cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and upper gastrointestinal haemorrhages. Severe overuse can lead to kidney failure, changes in liver function, dyspnea, and loss of consciousness, hallucination, and even death.


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