Clove a Cold, Feed a Fever

Saturday, November 21, 2009

(I'm writing this in bed with a cold. I'm awake and needed to do something productive. If it gets a bit incoherent, well, you know why. I'm doing my best just to stay conscious as I read over this.)

I didn't quite expect that sucking on cloves would make my mouth go a bit numb but there it is. Still, my cough was gone and my nose wasn't flushing like the storm drains outside.

After attempting to push through the day at work I was sent home after having sweat right through a t-shirt and sweater due to fever. Over the past few days when I was coming down with it I had become a bit of a pariah as people began to shoo me away from their desks and paint lamb's blood over their office doors in an attempt to ward away my sickness. Taking the hint I packed myself up and took off much to the relief of everyone else.

In order to help speed up my recovery I decided to swing by the market for a bit of food. A firm believer in "Feed a cold, feed a fever" (I find no reason to starve either, unless you're throwing up) I decided a bit of nourishment might be in order.

I meandered around the market trying to get in and out as fast as possible. A fresh chicken to roast and then later break down into stock for chicken soup and, more importantly, curry - curry being my go-to sicky food. A bag of tangerines (water and vitamin C), some hummus and pita bread (something to nibble while watching bad movies in bed), and some decaf chai tea (to keep me hydrated and focused).

Now of course, this doesn't explain why I was anesthetizing my lower jaw. I've always been willing to try more natural means of healing myself; I'm a preacher of honey for chapped lips and believe gargling salt water is the cure all for sore throats. Now the other day I had been informed that cloves had incredible antifungal, antiviral, antibiotic, and anesthetic properties. Doing a bit of research I found that indeed clove oil was a main ingredient in most dental anesthetics and sinus related medications. Often home remedies argue for making tea with cloves, roasting them and then chewing them, or sucking on them in order to help with coughs, runny noses, or even toothaches.

Since I was already going a bit out of my way in order to feed my fever, I figured that I might as well try to feed my cough as well. Digging through my spice drawer I pulled out an ancient jar of cloves and plucked one out. I opened my mouth and snugly placed it between my gum and cheek and anxiously awaited for results.

About seven minutes later my nose had stopped running and my cough was gone. I was dizzy with amazement, or fever, but either way I was impressed and a little off balance.

Ten minutes later I lost feeling in my lower right jaw. Those anesthetic properties of cloves? Yeah, you'd be surprised how effective they over over prolonged exposure. The inside of my right cheek and gums were now completely numb, feeling cottony to touch and lazy to respond. But at least my breath was aromatic and spicy. I was a germ packed aromatic welcome wagon of the holidays - like a spice scented candle in a public bathroom.

This is not to say I wasn't still pleased with the results. For the first time in two days I could breath through my nose without sounding like a truck downshifting on a highway. Furthermore, this anesthetic side effect could prove useful someday.

I went and grabbed one of the tangerines from the bag and plopped myself on the couch like a sack of old laundry. Burying myself in blankets and two cats eager for attention I turned on a rerun of Kill Bill and began the healing process. As I bit into my tangerine, I tasted bright citrusy flavors. And cloves.


Later my roast chicken also tasted like cloves. My hummus? Delightfully spicy with a slight hint of cloves. Pita bread? Cloves. Chai tea? Oh, you bet it tasted like cloves. My breath smelled like so much cloves you'd think I was at a goth club all night smoking them while wearing too much black eyeliner.

So, cloves for sickness. My final word? Go for it. It works. Just learn to deal with the side effects in stride.


  1. Cloves have such a delightful scent to them! When I was a child, if ever we got a toothache, sore gum or similar, mum would bring out the bottle of clove oil and it would be applied to some gauze to either bite down on or placed into our mouth to simply sit against the area causing the pain and woe. Hope you are feeling better soon! :-)

  2. This I am going to have to try!

    Feel better Garrett!

  3. "My breath smelled like so much cloves you'd think I was at a goth club all night smoking them while wearing too much black eyeliner."

    Oh my . We are going to have so much fun in Mexico.

  4. I wonder if you could use this for teething babies. Ora-gel tends to fade quickly. I'll have to give this a try or track down the clove oil Whimsical mentioned.

    Feel better! And try some garlic soup with lemons. That's my go-to food for colds.

  5. That is wild! I'm 'enjoying' the same symptoms you are, so I'm going to go try this now.

    Pardon the mouth is numb... hahaah

  6. Definitely trying this the next time I get sick.

  7. I think I love you. I have been suffering on and off with a toothache, I had read about clove oil but hadn't managed to get any. Today I felt the toothache starting and remembered you talking about the anaesthetic properties and went and got a clove from the pantry. Now my tooth doesn't hurt :) Thank you.

  8. "I was a germ packed aromatic welcome wagon of the holidays - like a spice scented candle in a public bathroom."

    Now that's sexy.

  9. You poor thing, feel better and have a happy Thanksgiving.

  10. I'm laughing in spite of you being sick ... great post, but I hope you're better by now (no doubt, on account of the cloves).

    Once I had oil of clove packed into a temporary filling by my dentist ... I experienced the same "delightful" clove tint to all my meals for the next WEEK. Good thing I like the taste of cloves.


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