Home » Herbalism » Clove


(Eugenia carophyllus, Syzygium aromaticum, or Caryophyllus aromaticus)

The little tiny stems are dried pink flower buds from a member of the myrtle family, the tree can grow up to fifty feet high. They’ve been in the spice trade since 176 AD, where they were shipped from Egypt. They are native to the Philippines but have been cultivated in Madagascar and Tanzania.

Cloves can be inserted into fresh orange peels as an insect repellent, but I remember the clove-pricked oranges as “potpourri balls” when I was a child, a seasonal craft activity around the winter holidays. The scent seemed to freshen the air with a warm, domestic glow that fit the generous season. When the spiced oranges began to loose their freshness, Grandma would simmer them on the stove to scent the house.

Cautions: If you have a bleeding disorder, consult with a doctor before using as it changes the way blood clots. Do not use two weeks before surgery for this reason as well. Do not use the oil in children’s mouths, avoid when pregnant or lactating.

Medicinal Properties

Anesthetic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-parasitic, digestive, expectorant.

The pain killing properties of the oil eugenol is soothing to the gastrointestinal tract. While clove soothes, it also fights indigestion and gas while it cleans and tones the stomach, liver, spleen, and skin. It has antioxidant properties, helping to fight toxins and tumors. It can ward infection from either bacteria or virus, and is anti-fungal and anti-parasitic as well.  It is also said to help make coughs more productive, clearing out the lungs and making it easier to breathe. This combined with the throat-soothing pain killers would make it a wonderful cough syrup addition in small amounts, and the anti-inflammatory properties may bring the swelling in the throat or lungs down. It is also said to be helpful for gas, nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach. This makes it good to cook with, and useful in flu preparations.

Preparation and Dosage: Considered safe in normal food-like quantities, up to a teaspoon.  Not too much testing has been done for dosage, but there is some sign that extended use in high concentrations may cause gum damage (as in an extended reliance on clove oil for tooth pain). Do not use the oil in children’s mouths. If you want to use it for teething babies, make chamomile tea with one clove steeping in it, then use the tea to make a cold compress (refrigerator cold) with a washcloth. The baby can chew on the washcloth for relief.

Magical Properties

Aries, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pisces

Exorcism, love, money, protection

Use in incense to draw money, raise spiritual vibrations, and ward off hostile energies. The incense is even said to halt gossip about you. Wear or carry to draw attention from the opposite sex. It is sometimes carried to ease grief. Add a small amount (use sparingly) to protective, love, and money foods. I haven’t used it much directly in this context, except to sprinkle the whole cloves on my altar to promote a protective and spiritual feel to my home. The scent has an interesting effect on me that I’m not familiar enough with to specifically define, but it seems like it may promote wisdom. Something about it reminds me of the hermit, as if the flavor of its energies was the protection and spirituality of experience and knowledge tempered with self-control and kindness or tolerance.

Culinary Possibilities

Try spicing lemonade with it. It’s also known to be in the Chinese five-spice powder, and gives flavoring to ketchup, pickles, and salad dressing – this tells us it likely goes well with vinegar and possibly some other acidic things. It goes well in a pumpkin spice, and is great to serve at feast occasions due to its benefits on the digestive system. It may also soothe the discomfort of over-indulging with its pain killing properties. It goes well with meats, and the digestive properties may help us to break down the fatty proteins in pork or red meat.

My Experience

Where I live, most people do not have dental insurance and have little money for dental care. I’ve told many people about how wonderful this spice is as a painkiller for dental pain. I have won a few converts, including my son for loose teeth, and I haven’t had anyone say the herb is ineffective. Once upon a time my son’s dentist told me it was just a placebo, so I took a bit of clove to my neighbor and had him chew it without telling him what would happen. Sure enough, his entire mouth went numb like he had been given a shot of Novocaine, and no prior knowledge of this effect means it couldn’t have been placebo. Now, I would not recommend this herb over dental care. In fact, I would like to point out that if you have a tooth that should be pulled and you put it off too long, you will likely need surgery and not a simple tooth pulling. Do not replace dental care with this spice. However, many people rely on painkillers that aren’t actually as effective as clove for ending the actual pain, and these pills have a tendency to make it difficult to function in day-to-day life and may be addictive. Instead, pop a clove in your mouth between your lip and your gum and let it sit there while you pick up the phone and book an appointment with your dentist – in about ten minutes the pain should be gone. If you can’t afford a dentist and are low-income, there may be resources in your area to help. Call a local free clinic and if they can’t help you, they may know who can.

Relevant Posts

The Health Benefits of Homemade Pumpkin Spice Blend


Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.
The Magic Teaspoon: Transform Your Meals with the Power of Healing Herbs and Spices by Victoria Zak.

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