As a native of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, the clove tree produces flowers that are used as a cooking spice as well as a medicine. Today, the spice is harvested from trees growing throughout Indonesia, Zanzibar, Madagascar, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The clove tree is an evergreen that grows long oval leaves with a waxy sheen. The flowers start their life with a pale tint, eventually turning from a light green to a deep, dark red. Once the flowers are bright red, they are ready to be harvested. Once harvested, the flowers are dried.
Through the drying process the flowers become a dark reddish brown and harden considerably. The end result is the spice that most people are familiar with from their grocery store aisles.
Benefits of Clove
The clove has uses that are too numerous to list. Over a century ago, the clove was the analgesic method utilized by dentistry. Patients would be given a dried clove flower to chew, or an essential oil would be made using the flower, and the oil would then be applied to the gum area. The analgesic, numbing effect allowed dentists to perform a myriad of dental work with less discomfort to the patient.
Aside from dental uses, clove is a proven disinfectant, deodorant, and natural insect repellent. When clove extract is mixed with oil, a powerful massage compound is created. The natural antibacterial properties of the clove make it a valuable tool in deterring the common cold. Clove also aid digestion and settle nausea in most patients.
Unless the clove flower is being used in cooking (both in ground and whole form), it is most often infused into an essential oil. The clove oil may be applied to the body or mouth to ease pain. The oil may be burned in a room diffuser to disinfect the area. Whole cloves may be steeped into herbal tea, both for flavor and healing properties.