Cloves are one of the highly prized spices, widely recognized all over the world for their medicinal and culinary qualities. The spice buds are actually the “flower buds” from an evergreen rainforest tree native to Indonesian “spice islands”. Botanically, clove-spice belongs to the family of Myrtaceae, in the genus; Syzygium, and scientifically named as Syzyigium aromaticum.
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.
Its decoction is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine preparations.
It is also thought to have a natural anti-parasite (kills intestinal worms) function.
The essential volatile oils function 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.
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 kitchen, since prolonged cooking results in evaporation of its essential oils.
This popular spice has been used in the 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 (biryani) contain cloves, and in the Middle East, it is used in meat and rice dishes.
The spicy buds also feature in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as one of the ingredients in curry powders.