Side Effects of Drinking Clove Water

Side Effects of Drinking Clove Water

Clove water is a traditional beverage made by steeping whole or ground cloves in hot water, like an infusion. It has long been used in folk medicine as a digestive aid, immune booster, and remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to nausea.
The recent wellness trend of drinking clove water daily has emerged from these traditional practices. However, despite purported health benefits, regularly consuming clove water may also come with potential side effects.
Let’s examine possible adverse reactions from drinking clove water and how to enjoy this aromatic beverage safely.

What’s in Cloves?

Cloves come from the dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. Their warming, bittersweet flavor comes from essential oils containing compounds like:
  • Eugenol – Anesthetic and antiseptic
  • Acetyleugenol – Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory
  • Gallotannic acid – Antioxidant
  • Methyl salicylate – Pain reliever
In small culinary amounts, these components give health-protective qualities to cloves. But in concentrated doses from steeping cloves to make water-based infusions, they may cause adverse effects for some people.

Possible Minor Side Effects of Drinking Clove Water

Drinking clove water, especially in excess, may lead to these mild negative reactions:
  1. Gas and Bloating: Some of the volatile oils in cloves may relax the lower esophageal sphincter and increase gastric secretions. This could worsen indigestion and cause gas, abdominal discomfort, and bloating.
  2. Heartburn: The irritation cloves can cause to the esophageal lining may aggravate heartburn symptoms like acid reflux, burning sensations, and regurgitation.
  3. Nausea: High concentrations of clove’s volatile oils can overstimulate the stomach and create nausea or an unsettled feeling. Those with sensitive digestion may be most prone.
  4. Oral Irritation: Compounds like eugenol make clove oil an effective dental anesthetic. But these numbing effects can temporarily irritate mouth tissues, causing tingling, numbness, or mild burning sensations when drinking clove water.
  5. Blood Sugar Effects: Some early research in animals indicates cloves may lower blood sugar. While this may benefit diabetes management, it could potentially lead to undesirable drops in blood glucose for some people.
These mild side effects are most common when exceeding recommended dosage guidelines or with frequent, strong brews of clove water.

Serious Adverse Reactions

In rare cases, heavy overuse of cloves or clove oil may lead to severe side effects like:
  1. Liver damage – Extremely high doses of eugenol in particular may be toxic to liver cells. This is very uncommon with normal culinary use.
  2. Seizures – There are isolated case reports of people developing seizures after taking excessively high amounts of cloves or clove oil.
  3. Allergic reactions – As with most foods, cloves may trigger hypersensitive allergic responses like rash, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis in some individuals. This is not common.
  4. Drug interactions – Cloves may prolong bleeding time due to blood thinning effects. They may also interfere with drugs broken down by certain liver enzymes. Cloves can amplify effects of medications like anticoagulants, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen if taken together.
Serious side effects are primarily associated with gross overconsumption of concentrated clove oil rather than typical culinary or steeping uses. But it’s wise to exercise caution.

Groups At Higher Side Effect Risk

Certain populations appear more vulnerable to potential clove water side effects:
  1. Those with chronic GI conditions like GERD, IBS, or ulcers
  2. People with diabetes or taking glucose-lowering medications
  3. Individuals taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications
  4. People with liver disease
  5. Children and infants
  6. Pregnant women
  7. Seniors with reduced drug clearance
Anyone with an underlying medical condition should consult their doctor before regularly drinking clove water. And clove usage in children or pregnant women warrants caution.

Safe Dosage of Drinking Clove Water

To minimize adverse reactions, these clove water dosage guidelines are recommended:
  • Use only 1-3 whole cloves or 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves per 8 oz water
  • Steep cloves for 5-10 minutes for milder flavor or overnight for stronger infusion
  • Drink no more than 2 cups clove water per day
  • Avoid excessive usage for more than 1-2 weeks at a time
  • Discontinue use if any worrisome symptoms develop
Exceedingsuggested dosing increases the risks of negative side effects without providing more benefits. Moderation is key when enjoying clove water.

Ways to Prevent Side Effects

These tips can help you drink clove water safely with minimal adverse reactions:
  1. Start with small amounts like 1⁄4 cup to test tolerance
  2. Add milk or lemon which may mitigate stomach irritation
  3. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach
  4. Steep cloves in cold water overnight rather than boiling to reduce oil content
  5. Sweeten with honey or lemon instead of sugar if diabetic or glucose-sensitive
  6. Drink through a straw to minimize contact with mouth tissues
  7. Brush teeth after drinking to avoid lingering oral numbing
  8. Avoid excessive usage for prolonged periods
  9. Watch for drug interactions if taking any medications
Being an informed consumer helps maximize clove water benefits while minimizing any risks.

Clove water made by steeping cloves in hot water is a traditional remedy said to aid digestion, immunity, and diabetes management. However, side effects like mouth numbness, nausea, blood sugar changes, and drug interactions may occur in some individuals, especially when dosage guidelines are exceeded.
Adverse reactions are primarily associated with overconsumption of highly concentrated brews. Drinking clove water can be safe when using just 1-3 whole cloves or 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves steeped for 5-10 minutes per cup. Limiting intake to 1-2 cups daily and avoiding excessive long-term use also keeps side effect risks low for most people.
Those with gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, bleeding risks, or liver conditions should exercise particular caution and consult their doctor before regular use of clove water. When enjoyed in moderation by healthy individuals, clove water can provide pleasant flavor and potential wellness benefits with minimal risks.