We’re going to go through the components of the Superhuman Food Pyramid in greater detail as promised. The first part is all about herbs, spices, and sweeteners, and we kicked off with the benefits and practical uses of cinnamon. Now we’re moving on to how to use cloves for the a Superhuman impact to our health.
First let’s quickly review a short history and background of this wonderful but underutilized spice.
Those who are into Asian cuisine are likely familiar with the strong aroma and flavor of cloves. They are the dried flower buds of the evergreen clove tree which is native to Indonesia. It is said that the tree originally grew only in the Spice Islands and was only later disseminated to other countries in the region as well as Africa and the Middle East. These places also regularly use the spice in their cooking.
Besides adding a distinct flavor to dishes, cloves have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. In modern times, Western medical studies have found some evidence that the essential oil of cloves have analgesic properties.
The name of the spice comes from the Latin word for “nails” (clavus) because that’s what the dried flower buds look like. Ever heard the expression “he eats nails for breakfast”? Eating cloves may not exactly qualify us as stereotypical tough guys but it can certainly contribute to our quest for superhuman health.
The major active substance of clove’s essential oil is called eugenol. This along with flavonoid components such as kaempferol are said to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants contribute to health by inhibiting the spread of too many free radicals that result from normal oxidation processes that occur in our bodies. The thing about free radicals is that they can sometimes start reactions that lead to cell damage.
Cloves can actually be used as a mild local anesthetic by dentists. Methyl salicylate and beta-caryophyllene are some of the components that work with eugenol that make this an effective painkilling and even anti-bacterial medication, which so far in Western medicine has been applied to certain dental procedures. There have been tests that further demonstrated the anti-bacterial quality of cloves. A 2009 study notes that its essential oil was able to hinder listeria, a bacteria frequently associated with food poisoning.
Momentarily disregarding these medicinal benefits, cloves as simple food flavoring can already pack a lot of nutrients for our bodies. Analysis of its nutritional profile shows that this spice is an abundant source of the following:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- dietary fiber
Clove Practical Use:
Preparation for culinary uses will of course depend on the recipe. More often than not they are combined with cinnamon, cumin, basil and allspice. Less frequently they are used with star anise, ground pepper, and onions (for soups).
For medicinal purposes, here are some suggestions:
- Place a bud in your mouth or gargle clove oil diluted in warm water to ease pain from toothache. This can also be effective for sore throats.
- Boil a few buds in water and inhale the steam to get some relief from respiratory ailments.
- Boil some ground cloves as an after-meal tea to support weak digestion, relieve nausea or even prevent vomiting.
- Topically apply clove oil diluted in water (around 1%) as an antiseptic for wounds or sores. Alternatively, make a paste by mixing the ground spice in honey.
- Directly chewing whole buds or rinsing your mouth with the oil mixed in water can reduce oral bacteria and freshen up your breath.
Between whole clove buds and the ground variety more commercially available, it is the former that keeps longer. It is recommended that you purchase organically grown and prepared cloves to reduce risk from contaminants such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. For longer continuous enjoyment of its Superhuman benefits to health, be sure to store cloves in re-sealable clear glass jars and keep the containers in dry and cool areas.
In the next post, I’ll tell you how you can use allspice in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the herbs, spices and sweeteners on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about how to use cloves, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on how to use cloves.