Orange and Clove Spices

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice: Allspice + Cloves

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We have come to our first frost and the last two spices in the pumpkin spice family: allspice and cloves. In the first two parts of our three-part series, we investigated the health benefits of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Though allspice and cloves may be lesser known and used in the kitchen than their spice siblings, they are certainly no lesser in their health benefits.

Origins of Allspice and Cloves

Though it would seem that allspice would encapsulate all spices — given the name — it actually isn’t a blend of spices.

Native to Jamaica, Central America, and the West Indies, allspice comes from the ground berries of the Pimenta dioica plant. When 17th-century Europeans received imports of the berries, they donned them with the name allspice because the berries tasted like a combination of the spices cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice berries are harvested green, fermented, and dried until they take on a maroon color. The berries are best stored whole to keep the flavor longer. Then you can grind them when it’s time for them to shine in an upcoming dish.

Instead of having three or four leaves, spice cloves begin as pink buds of the tropical evergreen tree Eugenia caryophyllata. Often found in Indonesia and Madagascar, these pretty buds are typically harvested in late summer and again in winter. Once they are harvested, the buds are dried until they resemble the dark cloves we know today. They can be purchased whole, ground, or distilled in essential oil.

Both spices carry a sweet and warm flavor — perfect not only for sweet treats but also for mulled wine and meat seasonings.

Pause on Menopause

The process of terminating the menstrual cycle in middle-aged women is not for the faint of heart. As estrogen and progesterone levels decline, women are subject to symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, dryness, and joint pain.

Constituents in allspice bind to estrogen receptors, causing the body to act as if its estrogen levels are higher. This can bring the struggling body to a better equilibrium — and less negative symptoms — during this tumultuous time for hormones.

Allspice and Cancer

Interestingly, many animal studies using constituents in allspice yield promising results for decreasing certain types of cancer cells.

Constituents within allspice called eugenol, gallic acid, ericifolin, and quercetin can promote cancerous cell death, decrease tumor growth, and prevent their spread.

The types of cancers with the greatest effectiveness are breast, gastric, and prostate cancers.

H. pylori is a type of bacterium considered to be carcinogenic. Overgrowth in this type can contribute to gastric cancer. Constituents in allspice inhibit the growth of the bacterium, aiding in preventing of the spread of gastric cancer.

Allspice can increase the body’s ability to degrade and discard breast cancer cells. It also can silence an androgen receptor in prostate cancer, interrupting the hormone activity that can worsen prostate cancer. For use in the wake of a cancer diagnosis, consult a health care practitioner.

Cloves Love Your Teeth 

Intrigued? A highly concentrated constituent in cloves called eugenol can bring pain relief associated with the mouth. One study demonstrated clove oil has strength similar to that of benzocaine, a common prescription numbing agent. To use, consider applying clove oil to the affected area. The numbing effects should last for 2-3 hours. If you do not have clove oil handy, it is possible to place a whole clove in the mouth near the source of pain until relief comes.

Clove oil can also slow dental erosion, strengthen teeth, and possibly inhibit cavity-causing organisms. This is likely due to the fact that eugenol in cloves also contain antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory characteristics. The combination works to provide not only relief but also prevention of further dental complications.

If you are interested in using clove oil, make sure it is blended with a carrier oil to prevent irritation, and consult a health care practitioner for proper dosage.

Skin Health

Acne can be painful and irritating in many ways. Staphylococcus aureus is a strain of bacteria connected to the spread of acne. Cloves contain constituents that can kill this strain of bacteria, aiding in the management of its havoc on the skin.

For best results, consider washing your face with a combination of three drops of clove oil and two teaspoons of raw honey.

Cloves Do not Love Fungus

Though cloves may love your teeth, they do not love fungus. Overgrowth of fungus — especially candida — can cause digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain, and even recurring infections. One study demonstrated that cloves were as effective as the prescription drug nystatin in fighting candida (or yeast) overgrowth. Consult your health care practitioner for instructions for use.

Protection Against Ulcers

Ulcers are open sores on the stomach lining or small intestine caused by gastric acid. Often linked to stress, these sores are painful and require treatment. Cloves can increase mucus production in the gastrointestinal tract, helping to prevent the formation of ulcers.

Liver Support

Fatty liver disease is caused by a buildup of fatty tissue in the liver. In a study with rats who had the disease, a low dose of cloves improved liver function, and reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. It even found that it could reverse liver scarring. Taking eugenol supplements for a week in a human study decreased a family of enzymes that can be indicative of liver disease.

Manganese + Cloves

Cloves seem to have a tight bond with the mineral manganese. One teaspoon of cloves contains 55% of our daily value. In its proper dosage, manganese crosses the blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers and supports brain function and bone strength. It is worth adding this warm and sweet spice — your brain and bones will thank you.

What Allspice and Cloves Share

Both allspice and cloves share the compound eugenol. As mentioned previously, its concentration is much higher in cloves, yet allspice still shares some of its benefits.

These aromatic spice sisters are commonly used in fragrances and beauty products. Eugenol holds a spicy scent, while allspice contains additional compounds cineole and caryophyllene, bringing sharp and woody tones.

Eugenol can be used as an anti-inflammatory and immune support due to its high concentration of antioxidants. Diffusing clove and allspice or placing the oils with a carrier oil on the neck can help prevent the spread of colds and flu.

A Word of Caution

Both spice sisters can be overpowering when used at improper levels. Each spice can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted with a carrier oil.

It is best to use allspice oil externally, as it can be toxic to ingest in large quantities. Those with hand dermatitis may develop allergic reactions when cooking with allspice.

Too many cloves can cause burning sensations, liver damage, or diarrhea. Clove oil is not to be used for children under the age of 2.

Consult a health practitioner for proper dosage and any possible drug interactions.

Allspice and Cloves Recipes

Pumpkin spice allspice recipes



As we shift from fall to winter, let these spices bring health and cheer to your household and beyond.

Refer a Friend to NTI

Don’t want to back to school yourself but know someone interested in holistic nutrition or natural cooking?  Great!  Then, you can contribute to NTI’s mission of Creating Optimal Health Through Nutrition Education and make some extra cash in the process! Under our referral program, anyone can earn a $300 gift card of their choice for every new student referred to NTI!

About the author: Lisa (Driscoll) Lopes is a certified Nutrition Therapist Master through NTI’s Nutrition Therapist Master Program. Having studied journalism and vocal performance in undergrad, she enjoys using her voice to share the benefits of living a holistic, integrated lifestyle in writing. You can find more of her writing in the Baltimore Sun, Classical Singer MagazineCapital News Service, and FOCUS blog.


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