The smell of cloves and citrus always reminds me of the holidays. Can’t you just imagine the blend of sweet orange and warm spice in the air when you think about it? Besides smelling absolutely heavenly, cloves are also a powerful superfood with a multitude of healing properties.
Cloves are actually the flower buds of the clove tree. They have a sweet yet spicy and aromatic smell, and are often used to flavor recipes like gingerbread or Indian curries. And as it turns out, cloves are packed with nutrients that can help you heal your body in more ways than one.
Cloves contain a high amount of manganese, a vital nutrient for brain health and strong bones. They also contains vitamin C and eugenol, potent antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. In particular, it’s said that cloves could help protect the body against cancer. One test tube study found that clove extract promoted cancer cell death and stopped the growth of cancerous tumors, while another had similar results specifically in esophageal cancer cells. Another test tube study found that eugenol was effective at killing off cervical cancer cells, too.
Another impressive benefit of cloves is that they seem to aid the liver in detoxification, and again, thanks to eugenol. In one animal study, researchers fed rats with fatty liver disease solutions containing clove oil or eugenol. Both resulted in better overall liver function, lower levels of inflammation, and decreased oxidative stress. Another animal study showed eugenol helped reverse signs of liver cirrhosis. While there hasn’t been much human research, one study did find that supplementing with eugenol resulted in lower levels of GST — an enzyme related to detoxification that’s normally a marker of liver disease. Researchers speculate that this could be because of the antioxidants in cloves which help relieve oxidative stress.
Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits of cloves is their ability to help regulate blood sugar. As diabetes is a growing problem, more and more people are looking for ways to not only keep their sugar levels low, but also to keep them stable, and some evidence suggests that cloves can help. One animal study found that clove extract helped control blood sugar increases in mice with diabetes. Another test tube study showed that clove extract increased the absorption of sugar from the blood into cells, increased insulin secretion, and improved the overall function of cells that produce insulin. In other words, insulin function was improved, and good insulin function means more stable blood sugar levels!
All in all, cloves are a safe addition to any diet. Keep in mind that eugenol can be toxic to the liver in high levels, so don’t run off and buy any eugenol supplements just yet. More research is needed in that area, but until then, why not try your hand at a biryani or masala curry or even something sweet and delicious like this honey breakfast cake. Here’s to healing your body and fighting disease — the natural way.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.