There are several science-based clove benefits for men from this ancient and highly used spice.
It is important to note that while these studies exist, they are limited and are often animal studies.
More human research is needed to confirm the results of the currently available studies.
What are cloves?
Cloves are aromatic dried flower buds.1
They are native to Indonesia, but their first discovery of use dates to 207 B.C. to 220 A.D. during the ancient Chinese Han dynasty.2
They are one of the most widely valued spices, some even argue it’s the most important of all spices.
They are also one of the most used spices for medicinal reasons around the world.
Other uses include:
- Food preservation
- Food seasoning
- Detergents, soaps, and perfumes
The beneficial effects of cloves are due to the main bioactive compound, eugenol.1
Eugenol contains high amounts of polyphenols which contribute to its high antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.
In fact, spices have the highest polyphenol content in food, followed by fruits, seeds, and vegetables.3
Potential clove benefits for men include:
- Nutritionally dense
Antioxidant benefits of cloves
Cloves have one of the highest antioxidant profiles of all known plants.
The International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy reported in an article that “a drop of clove oil is 400 times more powerful as an anti-oxidant than wolfberries or blueberries”2
Additionally, the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) test measured cloves at a score of greater than 10 million, putting it at the number 1 spot compared with all other foods tested.2
The ORAC test was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to measure antioxidant activity of foods.
The flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, in cloves are responsible for this antioxidant activity.
Another article in the International Journal of Herbal Medicine reported that cloves have over a 94% inhibition percentage of free radical scavenging.
This means that cloves have a high capacity to reduce harmful and highly reactive species that cause damage to cells.1
The polyphenols are responsible for this benefit because they have an exceptional ability at donating electrons to the free radicals, making them more stable.
The strong electron-donating ability and its effects on harmful free radicals contribute to its powerful antioxidant activity.3
Poor management of these highly reactive and damaging free radicals may lead to diseases like cancer so it is important to consume high antioxidant foods like cloves.
Cloves have great anti-inflammatory properties due to their high flavonoid content.
Eugenol, the main bioactive component, also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in cloves.
Other anti-inflammatory properties come from flavonoids like kaempferol, rhamnetin, and beta-caryophyllene, but are in lesser amounts.
Chronic inflammation is the main underlying condition of many chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Cloves are extremely nutrient-dense, meaning they have a substantial amount of nutrients per their small size.
Macroelements in cloves include:
- Sodium (Na)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Potassium (K)
- Calcium (Ca)
Microelements in cloves include:
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Iron (Fe)
- Cobalt (Co)
- Nickel (Ni)
- Copper (Cu)
Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron are commonly deficient micronutrients in the average person in the U.S.
Cloves are a great addition to contribute to these micronutrient levels to prevent deficiency.
Antimicrobial effects of cloves
A methanol extract of cloves showed very strong activity for fighting against common pathogens.1
These pathogens include:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Bacillus subtilis
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Aspergillus niger
- Candida albicans
Many of these pathogens are responsible for causing infections from eating contaminated foods, diarrhea, urinary tract infections (UTIs), disruption to the gut microbiome, etc.
Cloves are effective at food preservation due to this powerful effect on some of the common food-borne pathogens.
Additionally, cloves are also used in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and throat sprays to minimize the bacteria.2
Several studies showed anti-cancer effects in mice using clove extracts.
These effects include:
- Reduced incidence of cancerous and abnormal cell growth
- Reduced incidence of the presence of cancerous cells
- Increased incidence of programmed cell death2
Cloves show great potential as an herbal treatment for cancer, although more human studies are needed.
In some studies, cloves acted similarly to insulin to lower blood glucose through reduced expression of glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK).2
The studies also found that cloves and insulin regulated the expression of many of the same genes.2
Another mice study found that ethanolic extract of cloves showed a significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats.2
These benefits were observed without gastric ulceration or other adverse effects, which can occur with common aphrodisiac drugs.2
The clove essential oil is a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) substance when consumed in concentrations lower than 1500 mg/kg.
The World Health Organization (WHO) established that a daily acceptable amount of clove per day is 2.5 mg/kg of weight in humans.3
Cloves show promising effects on a variety of conditions through their high polyphenol and flavonoid content producing antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
More human studies are necessary to confirm previous studies and provide evidence on the clove benefits for men and women.
Sources of information
- Syzygium aromaticum (Clove) and Nigella sativa (N. sativa) Medicinal and Nutritional Benefits Revealed. International Journal of Herbal Medicine. https://www.florajournal.com/archives/?year=2020&vol=8&issue=2&part=B&ArticleId=632
- Clove: A Champion Spice. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267402397_Clove_A_champion_spice
- Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): A Precious Spice. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2221-1691(14)60215-X
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Rachel Badtke, RDN, CPT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She specializes in holistic wellness and whole food plant-focused nutrition. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and an ACE-approved certificate of completion in Advanced Sports Nutrition.