Lavanga’s aroma & power
Known as lavanga, devakusuma and shripushpa in Sanskrit and Syzygium aromaticum scientifically, clove is an aromatic spice used in most of the Indian homes. Though a native of South-East Asia, clove is so much embedded in Indian culture that apart from its culinary or medicinal use, it forms an essential part of the ritual offerings made to the gods since time immemorial.
Ancient ayurvedic texts describe the dried flower buds of the clove tree, which are its usable part, as bitter and pungent in taste and light, sharp and unctuous in action. Clove alleviates kapha and pitta and, contrary to the general belief, Ayurveda considers it to be cold in effect. An analysis of clove shows it to contain protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals. The clove buds, on steam distillation, yield a volatile oil.
Charaka has described clove as agnimandya-nashak (remover of anorexia). Other scholars have explained it as aromatic, stomachic, antiflatulent and antispasmodic. It stimulates various body organs like the salivary glands, the skin, the liver, the heart and the kidneys and also acts as a deodorant, expectorant, antipyretic and bitter tonic. Clove oil contains ingredients that help stabilise blood circulation and regulate body temperature.
Clove is a widely used drug in Ayurveda. It cures indigestion, loss of appetite, excessive thirst and vomiting. It checks tooth decay and counters halitosis (bad breath). It is also prescribed in hyperacidity and gastritis.
Clove is used in chronic cough, bronchitis and hiccup. In China and Persia, it is considered to be an aphrodisiac.
Clove forms an essential part of the household kit to treat many ailments. Here are a few tips:
Taking half a gram of the powder of fried cloves in a teaspoonful of honey promotes enzymatic flow and boosts the digestive function. The decoction of clove is also a good digestive cordial and is given to persons after the ritual fasting. In cough associated with bronchitis, clove works as a mucolytic agent if its powder is taken in honey with a little powder of mulethi. The famous Lavangadi Vati is an effective medicine to allay bouts of dry or wet cough of any etiology. The use of clove in toothache is a common practice. In tooth decay or cavity, the application of clove oil not only relieves the pain. Due to its mild antibacterial properties it also fights infection. It is a commonly used ingredient of mouth freshners.
Clove oil, though a skin irritant, is used in many linaments and oils which are applied to relieve joint pains, sprains and other soft tissue and bone injuries. In the market, cloves from which the oil has already been extracted, are also sold. Having poor curative value, these are light-weight and small in size. They exude less aroma than normal and have a wrinkled appearance.
Many classic ayurvedic medicines such as Avipattikar Churna and Lavangadi Churna contain cloves as an important ingredient. The average daily dose of the clove powder is 1 gm whereas of its oil it is one to three drops. Prolonged use may cause inflammation and ulceration of the tongue and the mucous membrane of the mouth cavity.