Clove: A valuable spice effective for cancer prevention

Clove: A valuable spice effective for cancer prevention

Cancer is emerging as the foremost health problem globally. Every year, the number of cancer patients just keep escalating at a terrifying rate. Also, there has been a rising resistance towards anticancer drugs, which worsens the efficacy and future of cancer management.

Further, due to the treatment associated deleterious side effects, the current approach for cancer prevention requires more profound, safe and effective treatment modalities. For this the incorporation of natural products along with the conventional cancer therapeutics can play a significant role in cancer prevention.

Natural products from plants represent a rich reservoir of potential phytochemicals. High dietary intake of natural products such as fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, and different spices have been found to minimize cancer risk.

Spices are considered as the golden compounds in cancer researches since they possess potent anticarcinogenic properties and have played a pivotal role as an effective source of antitumor agents. One such commonly used spice is clove (Syzygium aromaticum). For centuries, clove has been used in traditional Chinese, Ayurveda, Thai, Indonesian, and Kampo medicine of Japan. In terms of antioxidant activity, clove ranks the highest, followed by cinnamon, pepper, ginger, and garlic.

This versatile spice can be utilized to add a warm, distinctive flavor to your exotic hot beverages, desserts, cookies, cakes, curries, or chutneys. Embedded with potential health benefits, clove has been shown to block the cancer-promoting signaling molecules. It is a prominent natural product to be developed as a cancer prevention modality.

Let us explore how cloves may serve as an ideal and promising herbal remedy for fighting cancer:

  1. What is a clove?
  2. Vital bioactive constituents in clove
  3. Impressive health benefits of cloves
  4. Anti-cancer role of cloves
  5. Conclusion

What is a clove?

Cloves are the aromatic, sun-dried, unopened flower buds of the evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum (family Myrtaceae). They are deep brown in colour. The shape of a dried clove bud substantially resembles the shape of a nail. Therefore, their name is derived from the Latin word “clavus” meaning nail.

Vital bioactive constituents in clove

This sweet and aromatic spice contains various health-promoting phytochemicals:

  • Eugenol, isoeugenol, gallic acid, terpenoids, acetyleugenol, beta-caryophyllene, vanillin, crategolic acid
  • Flavonoids such as eugenitin, kaempferol, eugenin, and rhamnetin
  • Tannins such as gallotannic acid, bicornin, methyl salicylate
  • Triterpenoids such as stigmasterol, oleanolic acid, and campesterol
    Several sesquiterpenes

Impressive health benefits of cloves

Cloves display valuable holistic effects on human health. Cloves improve your liver health, promote insulin production, lowers blood sugar, prevent blood clots, and promote bone health. It can treat stomach ulcers, toothache, indigestion, and skin problems. It possesses antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It is also effective in alleviating inflammatory joint pain.

Anti-cancer role of cloves

The flavonoid kumatakenin present in the clove is found to induce apoptosis and inhibit the activation of tumor-associated macrophages in ovarian cancer cells. In patients with head and neck cancer, clove-based herbal mouthwash is known to reduce or prevent radiation-induced oral mucositis.

Cloves are an important source of betulinic acid and other triterpenes. These bioactive constituents can act as vital components in breast cancer prevention. In MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines, clove displayed excellent cytotoxicity and impeded cancer progression.

Eugenol found in clove oil extract displayed apoptosis-inducing capability and was found to be a potent cytotoxic agent for various type of cancer cells such as:

  • HeLa (cervical cancer)
  • DU-145 (prostate cancer)
  • MCF-7 (ER +) and MDA-MB-231 (ER-) (breast cancer)
  • TE-13 (esophageal cancer)
  • PANC-1 (pancreatic cancer)

In a study, a dose-dependent response was noted for various detoxifying enzymes by administering cloves. Alterations in phase I and II metabolizing enzymes by clove may account for eugenol's ability to serve as an ideal antimutagen.

In other analyses, it was demonstrated that the clove extract aided to curb the growth of tumors and promoted apoptosis in colorectal tumor cells. The concentrated amounts of clove oil were found to induce rapid apoptosis in 80% of esophageal cancer cells.

Clove also shows a potential chemopreventive impact against benzopyrene -induced lung cancer. In this study, clove:

  • Delays proliferation and abnormal cell growth
  • Induces apoptosis/cell death
  • Displays pro-apoptotic efficacy by elevating the expression of caspase 3
  • Upregulates the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins
  • Downregulates the expression of anti-apoptotic protein and some growth-promoting proteins
  • Suppresses the action of cyclooxygenase-2 (a key enzyme that initiates inflammation)

Evidence is available that the clove extracts might significantly interfere with the activity of β-catenin (a protein that promotes the progression of tumors by suppressing the T-cell responses) and thereby lower colon carcinogenesis. However, there is a requisition for further studies to validate it.


Being one of the significant causes of mortality around the world, cancer is rapidly becoming a ghastly life-threatening malignancy. The healthy spices not only add taste and aroma to your cuisine but also possess valuable medicinal values. The major phytochemicals present in clove spice have the ability to hamper inflammatory processes, initiation of carcinogenesis, and hyperproliferation. All these activities have made clove the most ideal natural product in the context of cancer prevention.

Cloves should be included as part of your healthy and balanced diet. Try to incorporate a few servings of cloves per week into your daily meals. Cloves have a great future of being developed as a cancer-fighting therapeutic. To conclude, the potential chemopreventive role of clove deserves further, rigorous exploration in various clinical and preclinical trials.

Combat your cancer with cloves !!

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