Since very ancient times, cultures in south eastern Asia have been using cloves for the preparation of many herbal remedies; tradition in these parts holds the cloves as almost a panacea for many illnesses. The tradition of using cloves in remedies goes back thousand of years in these parts of the world. The folk and traditional medicine of many Asian cultures gave a high value to the clove, the herb is believed to have strong antiseptic and analgesic qualities, and it is treated as an herbal anodyne for all manner of illnesses in many cultures around the world. The clove oil especially has been used by traditional folk healers down the ages, as well as by modern pharmacists and dentists in alleviating the symptoms associated with toothache and dental decay. Clove herbal tea is another remedy which is recorded in the herbal literature of many Asian cultures, this tea is seen as a cure for problems such as nausea and as an aid to eliminating excess gas in the stomach and the intestines, and the clove herbal tea is prepared by boiling and steeping the dried clove buds in water. Disorders such as diarrhea and a hernia are treated in the Chinese system of medicine by giving the patient clove oil. All pathogenic fungi and other troublesome fungal infections such as athlete's foot can be treated using the tincture of clove oil, which is strongly fungicidal. Some types of viral infections can be treated by the potent and effective antiseptic ability possessed by the cloves; the herb is also strongly bactericidal. The cloves are often used in the treatment of all sorts of diseases caused by infections - thus in tropical areas of Asia the clove is used extensively as a remedy for treating a water borne disease such as cholera and insect borne diseases such as malaria, it is used in the treatment of tuberculosis, as well as in ridding the body of external disease caused by parasites such as scabies. Cloves can also be used to alleviate very uncomfortable symptoms in the digestive system, including excess abdominal gas, problems such as colic, and bloating in the abdominal region. Muscle spasms can be relieved if the cloves are applied as a topical ointment, at the same time, the anti-spasmodic action of the clove also aids in the alleviation of coughs and other problems of the respiratory system. The stimulating property of the cloves has made it famous as an aphrodisiac in the west as well as in India. The clove is believed to aid in stimulating the body as well as the mind by boosting a flagging memory. In some Asian cultures, women about to go into labor are sometimes given the cloves to prepare them for the rigors and physical demands of a child birth, it is believed that the uterine muscle contractions during labor are strengthened and stimulated by the cloves. The remedy made from cloves is also used in the treatment of acne, in treating the symptoms of bell's palsy, in the treatment of skin ulcers, various types of sores, and styes affecting the eyes - in addition to many other uses already mentioned. Cloves have a potent odor and is a very good insecticide, repelling both mosquitoes and other insects such as moths. In the Moluccas, a natural insect repellent is traditionally made by studding the skin of oranges with cloves; this is kept in different areas of the house to ward off insects. The western Pharmacopoeia continues to underrate the potential of cloves as an herbal remedy; this is quite contrary to the variety of therapeutic uses the cloves are put to in so many Asian countries. Cloves are used in some common products even in the western world, namely in some products such as fragrant mouthwashes, and as a local anesthetic product to aid in alleviating the symptoms of toothache in patients with dental problems.
The clove is an indigenous plant species of the former Spice Islands - the Molucca Islands, which are now in Indonesia as well as the southern parts of the Philippines islands. Due to the commercial value and high sale potential of this spice, large plantations devoted to cloves exist in the tropical countries such as Tanzania and Madagascar in East Africa and, this is also a plantation plant to a lesser extent in the new world tropical countries of Brazil and the West Indies in the Caribbean. Semi-ripe cutting of the plant are used in the summer to propagate the herb, while seeds are used in the spring to propagate the tree. The young floral buds are plucked and harvested for sun drying and processing two times every year in most plantations.
The very potent bactericidal action of the volatile oil in clove was established in an Argentinean research completed in the year 1994 - the study tested various properties of the clove oil. The most important and the major compound constituent which is present in the volatile clove oil is the compound called eugenol - chemically identified as a phenol. This chemical compound displays very strong antiseptic as well as a potent anesthetic ability by virtue of being a phenolic compound. For this reason, isolated eugenol from clove oil is often used as general antiseptic oil as well as an analgesic pain relief agent for toothache and other dental problems. A strong anti-spasmodic action is displayed by acetyl eugenol, which is another chemical component of the volatile clove oil.
Clove contains volatile oil; eugenol (up to 85%), acetyl eugenol, methyl salicylate, pinene, vanillin. Gum and tannins.
There are many ways to use cloves aside from its culinary uses. The medicinal uses of the cloves include putting clove as a spice in the daily meals or in using it to enhance herbal teas. This can be done by using some cloves and steeping them in boiling water and allowing to infuse the cloves in the water for ten minutes. The tea can then be strained and drunk whenever necessary. A single clove bud can be used in relieving a toothache; the clove can be placed next to the troublesome tooth and kept in this way in the mouth for some time. Clove oil can be used instead of a whole clove bud, the clove oil can be soaked in some cotton and the cotton can then be placed next to the problematic tooth for relief from pain.
The time for the harvest of cloves occurs when the lower parts of the clove flower turns from green to purple, at this ripened stage, all the flower buds are collected and they are then sun dried into the familiar deep reddish brown spice. All the regions surrounding the Indian Ocean are good areas for growing clove as they enjoy the optimal tropical conditions.