Its aroma fills our homes during the holidays, its spice warms up our favorite Christmas cookies, and it adds a seasonal warmth to our favorite Thanksgiving desert.
We are talking about the pungent, extremely flavorful – clove.
These potent little flower buds are celebrated throughout the winter holidays, but this aromatic spice is widely available all year long and all over the globe. Cloves are full of beneficial health compounds that can help with everything from toothaches and digestion to sexual health…yep, cloves have been used for centuries to spice up more than your gingerbread recipe.
So what exactly are the biggest health benefits of cloves, and how can this help the professional voice?
1. Respiratory Health & Congestion Relief – Cloves have expectorant qualities, which helps to thin excess mucus and phlegm in the lungs, bronchi, and trachea, making it easier for your body to cough up the excess phlegm and relieve your congestion. So if you are ever feeling the effects of phlegm during a cold or bronchial infection, steep cloves in your tea to clear up your respiratory system.
Add clove to your diet to help relieve congestion. Steep cloves in hot tea mixed with raw honey and lemon to help break up excess phlegm and sooth a sore throat.
2. Oral Health – Cloves contain significant amounts of the compound eugenol, a common ingredient in mouthwash, soap, and toothpaste. Eugenol has been studied for its natural anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties, and particularly its application in oral health. In fact, eugenol oil extract has been used by dentists as a mild anesthetic to help treat toothaches or pain from dental procedures.
So for singers or professional voice users who may be experiencing a toothache, or want to kill extra germs in the mouth, add clove oil to your homemade singer’s spray or even apply clove oil topically with a cotton ball to the irritated area.
3. Improve Skin – The anti-septic qualities of eugenol are not only good for oral health, but it can also be an effective acne treatment. Try mixing crushed cloves with your daily cleanser, then apply to clogged pores or acne to help clean bacteria from the skin and let clove’s anti-septic compounds go to work. The anti-inflammatory compounds will also help to keep the skin from becoming inflamed. The smell is fantastic as well!
4. Digestion & Bloating – This dried flower bud has been studied extensively for its digestive health benefits, including helping with stomach bloat, indigestion, diarrhea, and even flatulence. Clove helps activate the body’s digestive enzymes, and relax the smooth lining of the gastrointestinal tract. *Clove can have a powerful effect on your digestives system, so consult a physician before taking clove to help with these symptoms.
Cloves are a great source of manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, vitamins B1 and B6, riboflavin, and calcium.
5. Sexual Health – In addition to the seductive smell of cloves, studies have been done to suggest that clove is a natural libido-booster due to its ability to increase body temperature and improve blood circulation…everywhere. A number of studies have also been done to test clove’s ability to help with male sexual dysfunction and premature ejaculation. The actual effectiveness has yet to be proven, but it has been a popular solution for centuries in cultures that use spices heavily in medicinal and culinary applications. So give it a go…
So for our professional vocalists, or if you are simply suffering from a toothache and can’t make it to the dentist right away, or want to reap all the above-mentioned benefits of cloves at home – try mixing up a batch of these clove-spiced cookies and pair it with clove and honey tea.
Clove & Honey Tea
2 Bags of your favorite tea
1 Cup boiling water
1 TBSP dry cloves (crushed slightly to release oils)
1 TBSP raw honey
Boil the water and pour over the ingredients. Allow to steep for at least five minutes and enjoy. Leave in the ingredients (including tea bags) if you like your tea to stay strong. These ingredients, when added to your favorite tea, will help to kill germs in your mouth and respiratory system, reduce inflammation, and if you have a toothache, the clove oils will go to work in helping relieve your pain.
Use slightly crushed, whole cloves in any warm beverage to get the many health benefits of this spice. Don’t wait until Christmas to get your dose – cloves are readily available all year long!
Clove Spiced Cookies
To pair with your Clove & Honey Tea.
Spicey Clove Cookies:
- 2 1⁄4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1⁄3 cup of 1/2 dark brown sugar & 1/2 light brown sugar (packed)
- 2 medium eggs
Pre-heat oven to 375*F
Cream together the butter, sugar (granulated and brown) and once a light blonde paste, add in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and molasses.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (including spices) and then slowly add in the dry ingredients 1/3 of the mixture at a time into your mixing bowl.
Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, you are ready to roll. Keep a bowl of warm water on your working surface to keep the dough from sticking to your hands-you can also spray your hands with cooking spray to keep from sticking. Start rolling golf-ball sized balls and place on a well greased cookie sheet.
Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the left over granulated sugar if you want an extra sugary crunch. You may omit this stage if you like a softer cookie.
Place your sheet of cookies into your 375* oven and bake for 10-12 minutes in the center rack. Rotate the cookies at the 5-minute mark to keep the baking even.
Enjoy with your hot tea!
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