This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics - Vegetable Kingdom", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica And Therapeutics: Vegetable Kingdom.
Active Ingredients. - These, according to Trommsdorf, consist chiefly of volatile oil, tannin, a gum-resin, extractive, and lignin. Upon analysis, the volatile oil resolves into a hydrocarbon, C10H16, in which eugenic acid, C10H12O2, is dissolved; caryophylline, C10Hl6O, a substance isomeric with camphor; and, thirdly, a body called eugenine, probably isomeric with eugenic acid. The caryophylline presents itself in crystals of satiny brilliance, destitute of taste and smell, fusible, volatile, and soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in water. The oil, though clear and colorless when fresh, gradually acquires, by keeping, a dark and reddish-brown hue. The taste is aromatic and somewhat acrid; the odor is that of the spice, and very strong. It is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the fixed oils, and has a sp. gr. of 1.034 to 1.060, being heavier than water.
Physiological Action. - Used as a spice, and in moderation, cloves stimulate the digestive organs; but taken in excess, or too continuously, they exhaust the susceptibility of the stomach, and induce loss of appetite and constipation.2 The oil, taken in large and undiluted
1 London Medical Gazette, 1840, p. 202.
2 It is probable that the oil of cloves partakes of that power of lowering reflex irritability which has been shown to pertain to other volatile oils (vide chamomile, etc.) doses, acts as a powerful irritant; but if in smaller quantities, as a diffusible stimulant.
Therapeutic Action. - Cloves are generally considered to be the most stimulating of the aromatics. They are employed more as a condiment than as a medicine, and often to season food of a somewhat indigestible character. The infusion, being a warm and grateful stomachic, is advantageously employed to relieve the sense of coldness in the stomach which attends certain forms of dyspepsia, especially such as arise from the abuse of ardent spirits, from chronic gout, or from flatulent colic.
In Holland, oil of cloves is combined with cinchona and supertartrate of potash, and administered in ague.
It is seldom, however, that the infusion or any other preparation of cloves is found useful, or at all events expedient, per se, or as the basis or principal medicine. When given alone, it is chiefly as a carminative.
Infusion of cloves is exhibited for the relief of nausea, vomiting, flatulent colic, and other allied complaints. Cloves are valuable, also, for the purpose of imparting a pleasant flavor to medicines of a distasteful character, and for correcting the irritant properties of drastics. As a local excitant, they were formerly recommended to be chewed in particular cases of paralysis of the tongue.
The essential oil is a popular remedy for toothache, being applied on cotton-wool to carious cavities in the teeth. By diffusing the essential oil in water, with some mucilage, an agreeable draught may be prepared.
Cloves are employed, also, in the preparation of an aromatic syrup, which is afterwards colored with cochineal. They are used likewise as an adjunct to purgatives.
Preparations and Dose. - Infusum Carophylli,
- 60.); Oleum Carophylli, mj. - v. (.05 - .25).