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Cloves and Pirate Ships

Holidays around the corner and cooler temps are all around us. The seasons of spices and chai’s are knocking on the door so today we are going to take a peel into one of the most famous spices of all times, Cloves!

Now, Cloves have a downright bloody history. “Coveted” would be an appropriate term and wars were fought over these little miracles.

Spices used to be worth as much as gold and cloves were among the most expensive of them all. Only a few people knew their origin and were able to even recognize the plant they grow on. This is why as herbalists we spend time learning our Botany =)

According to archaeologist in Syria, the discovery of cloves showed they were almost 4.000 years old dating back to 1721 B.C. The mystery however wasn’t in what they could provide but rather where they were located”?

In the 15th century (1400’s), Pope Alexander VI issued the public decree with which the territory of the newly discovered lands would be divided among the two most powerful forces – Spain and Portugal. Well, the earth was also flat in those days and sea travel was entrenched in lore and mystery. Added to that, you can see how and why wars broke out between these two countries.

Before the 1500’s, Cloves only grew on five Moluccas Islands in the Indonesian archipelagos. At the time no one could figure out how they even get to the Fertile Crescent. That question still remains a mystery because cloves made explorers very wealthy and they would not give up the locations.

But…. When the fragrant clove forests were finally discovered in Indonesia, it was said that they must always be planted around water in order to flourish, hence the stories of pirates, mermaids and the Sirens song.

So Why were cloves such a big deal? Short version… for their Medicinal and culinary uses. Today? Not a second thought to cloves unless we’re baking pumpkin pies or something

Technically Cloves are dried flower buds from an evergreen tree and have a long and fascinating history. Nutritionally, Clove offers us high amounts of:

  • manganese,
  • lots of iron,
  • vitamins B6, C and K,
  • omega 3 fatty acids,
  • potassium
  • some calcium and magnesium

Clove essential oil is frequently use as a numbing agent for mouth pain.

As an antifungal, Clove works to destroy ringworm, athlete’s foot and other fungi.

Clove is also great at destroying viruses. Drinking a tea with Clove in it can help to shorten the duration of a cold or flu.

Other gifts provided by cloves include its anti-nausea properties and its support to the stomach and intestines – gas issues. Cloves also promote digestion and aide the body with nutritional absorption.

Now cloves may be a little too much for you and that’s OK. Nature has provided us with all kinds of spices. Incorporating any number of them into our diets will most certainly keep the cooties away this cold and flu season.

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