By Naini Setalvad November 2012 Cloves have many unique aromatic and healing properties, and are widely used in cuisine as well as medicine, says Naini Setalvad I remember my grandmother tell me once, “If your teeth are hurting, put a piece of clove in your mouth.” It is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of cloves. Cloves are aromatic, dried flower buds of a tree. They are called dinh huong in Vietnam, cengkeh in Indonesia, and laung in India. Cloves are used across the world in global cuisine. They are primarily harvested in Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kerala in India. Historically, cloves have been used in Indian cuisine, especially North Indian cuisine, which makes liberal use of aromatic flavours in biryanis and other rich fare. It is also an ingredient in the multipurpose garam masala. The use of cloves is also mentioned in ayurveda, according to which it is used to increase heat in the system. Thus, it is consumed more during cold weather. A warm cup of masala chai or a piping hot Kashmiri kahwa, spiced with cloves, can chase away the winter blues, and of course the common cold and the flu. This tiny clove is powerful, and it is used not only in ayurveda, but also in Chinese medicine and Western herbal medicine. It has a lot of health benefits in addition to its great taste. It turns out that my grandmother was right. Clove oil is known to relieve a toothache, sore gums, as well as mouth ulcers. It is also used in preparing filling material as a temporary alternative to root canal. The oil is also useful in relieving muscle cramps. Another special use of the oil is that it is a natural mosquito repellent, and is useful in treating insect bites and stings. Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist,specialisingin lifestyle and immunitydisorders. Her foundation, HealthFor You, throws light on healthyfood habits. Cloves are great for your gastro-intestinal tract as well. It is capable of aiding the expulsion of parasitic worms from the body, as well as preventing the formation and retention of gas in the intestine. Respiratory problems like cough, cold, bronchitis, the flu, sinusitis, tuberculosis, as well as sore throat, can be treated with cloves. A congested respiratory system can be relieved by the use of cloves. Being rich in Vitamins A and C, the clove has strong antioxidant properties. Therefore, it helps to purify the blood, boosts the immune system, and prevents aging. It is also great for those battling skin problems. The oil is used in treating various skin disorders like acne and pimples. It is also helpful for severe burns, skin irritations, and reducing sensitivity of the skin. However, since cloves are hot, one should take professional guidance when using them for treatment of the skin. Cloves are also great for controlling blood sugar. Therefore, they make many food preparations less harmful for diabetics. Sucking on cloves helps in innumerable ways. Add cloves to any of your food preparations, whether they are biryanis, pulaos, or a vegetable. You could add them to your tea, kadhas, and any warm drink as well. It will benefit you immensely as their antioxidant properties help boost immunity and cleanse the system. A soothing drink Ingredients 1 half-inch piece cinnamon 2 cardamoms 2 cloves 1 tsp organic honey 1 strand of saffron 1 glass water Method Add all the ingredients to the water. Boil well for 4-5 mins. Serve hot.
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