Are Cloves the Secret to Long, Strong Hair? We Went to a Derm to Find Out

Close up of cloves on plate

Crissy Mitchell / Stocksy

Often the sidekick to more prominent flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg, cloves are the hidden warming flavor in many fall-spiced treats and drinks. While their flavor is sometimes lost in the chorus of other spices, their proven health benefits deserve the spotlight.

Native to Indonesia, cloves have been used in traditional and folk medicine for centuries to treat many digestive ailments and aid in dentistry. Cloves are also integral to many Chinese medicine and Ayurveda treatments due to their antimicrobial, antiviral, anesthetic, anti-parasitic, and antioxidant properties.

Cloves, the unopened buds of the clove tree of the family Myrtaceae, have an influential history that spans back as far as 300 BC when they became the cause of many conflicts and expeditions among traders. Widely sought after for their flavor and medicinal uses, modern research has confirmed the reputed benefits of cloves and their wide application relevant to human and animal health, cosmetics, flavoring, and food industries.

Meet the Expert

While the numerous health benefits of cloves are clear, do they have any potential benefits for your hair? To answer this question we turned to our experts, dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD, and registered dietitian Carlie Saint-Laurent Beaucejour to find out.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of cloves for the hair and scalp.

01 of 05

Boost Your Overall Health

It's important to start this list of benefits with an explanation of what makes cloves so beneficial to your overall health, as many of the benefits cloves can have for your hair are a result of the benefits they have for your general well-being. "Potential benefits of consuming cloves are indirect and exerted through the contribution they make to overall health," Marcus explains. She notes that cloves are a food source of antioxidants, which may help improve overall health by counteracting some of the adverse effects of oxidative stress. While not a direct boost to hair health, "when the whole body is healthier, the hair is likely to be healthier too," shares Marcus.

In addition to their antioxidant properties, Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says cloves have a phenolic compound, eugenol, that provides antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. "Cloves can help slow the progression of certain cancers and improve insulin resistance and heart health," she adds.

02 of 05

Improve Circulation

Cloves may help to indirectly promote hair growth by improving scalp circulation. This is due to the fact that they contain vitamin K, Saint-Laurent Beaucejour explains. Many popular hair growth and regeneration treatments and techniques aim to increase scalp circulation, as a healthy oxygenated blood flow is believed to provide a healthy foundation for new hair growth.

While there are many benefits to increasing your intake of vitamin K, there are some medications and conditions that may be negatively impacted by it. Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says you should avoid cloves if you are on anticoagulant medications due to their concentration of vitamin K. "I would not recommend consuming cloves for children and pregnant people," she adds. "Always consult with your healthcare provider before adding or changing your supplements, herbs, and spices."

03 of 05

May Aid in Hair Growth

Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says cloves can assist in hair growth because of their content of beta carotene, which promotes cell growth, and vitamin K, which promotes blood circulation. It's important to highlight that these benefits are indirect, as Marcus cautions that cloves have not been scientifically shown to have a measurable effect on hair growth when ingested.

That being said, Marcus does add that in animal studies, applying clove oil topically to the skin has been shown to increase hair growth in rabbits. Research has also supported the use of natural remedies containing cloves for the treatment of hair and scalp disorders.

04 of 05

Strengthen Hair

Hair breakage is one of the leading causes of hair loss and can be brought on by factors including heat damage, bleaching, and stress (such as tight hairstyles and rigorous brushing). Cloves can help to prevent breakage as they contain the micronutrient manganese, which Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says strengthens hair strands, protecting them from damage.

Saint-Laurent Beaucejour also says that cloves can even help prevent hair from graying through their antioxidants. Cloves contain the antioxidant eugenol, which can help to prevent the oxidation of the hair follicle. Oxidation can be brought on by certain lifestyle habits as well as aging and leads to the hair losing its pigment. Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says cloves may help to slow or prevent greying by reducing this oxidation.

05 of 05

Alleviate Itching (Especially From Dandruff)

Cloves have been used topically to treat a host of skin and scalp concerns due to their antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, anesthetic, and anti-parasitic properties. Many choose to apply clove topically in the form of clove oil to treat conditions like dandruff that can benefit from the antiseptic properties of the spice. Cloves can actually treat the bacteria that cause dandruff, helping to stop the itch. Saint-Laurent Beaucejour shares that cloves can benefit your hair by cleansing the scalp and keeping it dandruff free and by reducing itching.

Consuming cloves may also have benefits for reducing scalp itchiness as well. Eugenol, one of the antioxidants found in cloves, has dual antihistamine and pain-relieving effects, both of which can help to reduce itching. Depending on the cause of the itchiness, eugenol may help to alleviate the inflammation as well as the pain.

The Final Takeaway

There are many ways to consume cloves as a part of your normal diet. In many cultures, cloves are used in cooking as a seasoning for anything from pastries to meat. If you would prefer a more concentrated form of cloves, there are also several blends of tea that utilize cloves for their aroma and nutritional value. "The best way to consume cloves is to maximize the benefit in their whole form by using whole cloves in teas, soups, stews, and rice," explains Saint-Laurent Beaucejour. "However incorporating them appropriately in any form in moderation can provide positive benefits."

Finally, there are clove herbal supplements available for use; however, you should always consult a doctor before starting a new supplement as it may interfere with your existing medications or conditions.

Article Sources
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