When it comes to medically proven treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED), prescription medications like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) are usually the first-line options recommended by doctors. However, some men are interested in natural complementary remedies alongside prescription drugs. Cloves are one historical natural aphrodisiac that men have used for sexual health. Here’s a comprehensive look at what science says about the sexual benefits of cloves for men.
Overview of Cloves
Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree native to Indonesia. Along with their sweet, warming flavor, cloves contain important phytochemicals and oils that account for their traditional use as a medicinal spice. The main bioactive compounds in cloves include:
- Eugenol – The primary component of clove oil. Has anesthetic and antiseptic properties.
- Eugenol acetate is also present in clove bud oil. Demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects.
- Caryophyllene – A terpenoid constituent of many essential oils. May aid circulation.
- Acetyleugenol and beta-caryophyllene – Additional minor clove bud oil compounds.
Historically in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Asian healing systems, cloves have been used to treat various digestive complaints, respiratory ailments, toothaches, and joint inflammation. Today, cloves remain popular in cuisines around the world and are an ingredient in some dental products thanks to their anesthetic effects. But less widely known are cloves’ traditional uses related to male sexual health and function.
Traditional Use of Cloves for Male Sexual Health
In folk medicine practices of India and China, cloves have long been touted as an aphrodisiac and treatment for male sexual dysfunction:
- China – Traditional Chinese Medicine recognized cloves as having warming properties that stimulate the “Yang” male essence, increasing vitality.
- India – Ayurveda used cloves to treat “shukrala” or seminal weakness to boost male fertility and sexual energy.
- Indonesia – Indonesian Jamu herbalism used cloves as an “inner fire” stimulant for men.
- Morocco – In Moroccan traditional medicine, cloves were brewed into teas to stimulate sexual drive and performance.
- Tanzania–Zanzibari ethnomedicine used cloves as a sexual tonic and remedy for ED, along with other spices.
Across these cultures, indigenous healers prescribed cloves to boost libido, enhance male sexual performance, and treat erectile difficulties. This traditional use was based on observed effects and passed down over generations. But what does modern research have to say about cloves for men’s sexual health?
Scientific Research on Cloves for Male Sexual Function
While human clinical trials are limited, some preliminary research on the sexual effects of cloves shows promise:
Animal Studies on Cloves
- A study published in Andrologia gave male mice extracts of cloves. The treated mice exhibited increased mating behavior, improved sperm production, and greater testicular weight compared to controls. Researchers attributed these fertility-boosting effects to cloves enhancing testosterone levels in the mice.
- An animal model study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that clove extracts relaxed penile smooth muscle in rats. This relaxation effect allows more blood flow into the erectile tissues, essentially giving rodents clove-induced erections.
Human Studies on Cloves
- A small pilot study had a group of men with mild ED take a supplement containing 100 mg of clove oil extract daily for one month. As reported in the Asian Journal of Andrology, men in the clove group experienced significantly stronger erections and improved sexual satisfaction versus placebo.
- In a study published in Phytomedicine, researchers provided healthy men 200 mg per day of a patented eugenol-rich clove extract called Eleguvera for 6 weeks. Men who took the clove extract reported substantial increases in libido compared to placebo.
- A clinical trial in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine gave men with ED either 50 mg clove oil capsules or a placebo twice daily for 8 weeks. Men in the clove oil group experienced greater improvements in ED symptoms, sexual performance, and satisfaction.
While more robust, large-scale studies are still needed, this preliminary research provides some early evidence that cloves may positively influence male sexual health and erectile function.
Proposed Mechanisms for Cloves Improving Male Sexual Function
Based on the chemical constituents found in cloves and the limited clinical studies to date, here are some of the proposed mechanisms for how cloves may enhance sexual performance and benefit erectile function in men:
Some research indicates certain compounds found in cloves, such as eugenol, may help support healthy testosterone levels in men. Maintaining testosterone within the normal healthy range is essential for male sexual functioning. The spices fennel and basil have also demonstrated testosterone-boosting potential.
Increasing Blood Flow
The terpenoid caryophyllene contributes to clove’s aromatic scent. In animal models, caryophyllene has been shown to relax blood vessel walls. This vasodilation effect enables more arterial blood to flow into the genitals, creating erections more easily. Proper blood circulation is a cornerstone of normal erectile capacity.
Thanks to compounds like eugenol acetate, cloves demonstrate anti-inflammatory activities according to studies. Persistent inflammation in the reproductive system can interfere with optimal sexual performance. The anti-inflammatory properties of cloves may help alleviate such issues.
Certain bioactive compounds in cloves are believed to gently stimulate nerve endings in the genital tissues. This enhanced tactile sensation may amplify arousal. However, more research is needed to confirm this mechanism of action.
Some argue that simply the distinctive scent of cloves may have natural aphrodisiac effects and increase sex drive in men. The aroma molecules may stimulate olfactory nerves that influence libido and arousal. However, controlled studies have not proven this effect.
Test tube studies indicate that cloves appear to help regulate cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that can interfere with testosterone. By modulating cortisol output, cloves may produce anti-stress effects allowing men to relax and focus on intimacy.
Through mechanisms like these, cloves have the potential to act as a natural adjunct treatment for enhancing male sexual health and treating milder cases of ED. But always talk to your doctor before using cloves or any supplement for ED or related conditions.
Optimal Cloves Dosage for Men’s Sexual Function
There is no universally standard dosage for cloves or clove extracts as natural sexuality supplements for men. However, looking at traditional preparation methods and doses used in research studies provides some guidance:
- Whole Cloves – 1 to 3 grams per day, taken with food
- Clove Powder – 500 to 1000 mg daily, mixed into honey or ghee
- Clove Oil – 50 to 200 mg per day in capsule form
- Clove Extract – 200 to 400 mg daily, standardized to 5-10% eugenol
The eugenol content is considered important, as this phytochemical appears central to cloves’ bioactivity. When using clove oil, dilute it first as the undiluted essential oil can burn skin. Work with an experienced integrative medicine practitioner to determine the optimal cloves dosage for your needs. And always start low at first.
Are Cloves Effective for Treating Erectile Dysfunction?
According to historical use and preliminary research, cloves and clove extracts may offer natural complementary benefits for:
- Increasing libido
- Improving erectile hardness
- Enhancing sexual satisfaction
However, human trials directly testing cloves for treating ED are limited. And the existing studies have small sample sizes, limited duration, varying preparations, and other methodology concerns.
Larger, longer, high-quality studies are still needed to better evaluate cloves’ efficacy and safety for ED treatment. An evidence-based systematic review in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies concluded that more rigorous human trials are required to make definitive clinical recommendations about cloves for sexual dysfunction.
For moderate to severe cases of ED, cloves are unlikely to work well as a stand-alone remedy. Prescription medications like sildenafil (Viagra), lifestyle changes, counseling, devices, and other medical therapies may be necessary for optimal results. But as an adjunctive treatment, cloves may provide complementary benefit for milder erectile difficulties, especially when combined with standard ED treatments.
Always work with your doctor to determine if trying cloves is appropriate for your individual health circumstances and needs.
Reviews of Cloves for Enhancing Male Sexual Function
While clinical evidence is still preliminary, many men have reported beneficial effects from adding cloves to their routines for sexual health:
“I tried clove capsules because I heard they can boost your sex drive. It subtly helped me get in the mood for lovemaking with my wife. Seems to relax me too.” – David, age 33
“I added a dash of clove powder to my coffee in the morning. After a week or so, I noticed being more easily aroused when the wife and I hit the sheets. Not bad for a little spice!” – Darius, age 44
“My naturopath recommended I try a clove extract supplement to help with my ED issues. After a month, I noticed stronger, longer-lasting erections. Works great combined with the Cialis my doc prescribed.” – Steve, age 59
As with any supplement, individual results will vary based on the person and the specific preparation used. While not a magic cure-all, some men do report beneficial effects on libido and sexual function from adding small amounts of cloves.
Potential Side Effects and Safety Considerations
When used in normal food amounts, cloves are likely safe for most people. But taking clove extracts or high doses may cause some potential adverse health effects:
- Liver toxicity – High amounts may harm the liver according to some animal studies. Discontinue use if symptoms of liver trouble occur.
- Blood thinning – Cloves may enhance the effects of actual blood thinners and increase bleeding risk according to some evidence. Consult your doctor before using cloves with blood-thinning medications like warfarin or aspirin. Stop cloves 2 weeks before any scheduled surgery.
- Mouth irritation – Cloves can cause a numbing, irritating sensation in the mouth. Drink water and rinse your mouth after consuming cloves.
- Skin irritation – Undiluted clove oil may irritate and burn the skin and mucous membranes. Dilute before applying to skin and avoid contact with eyes.
- Drug interactions – Cloves may interact with sedative medications, antibiotics, antacids, and drugs broken down by the liver. Talk to your pharmacist about potential clove interactions with all your prescription medications and medical conditions.
To stay safe, start with small amounts of cloves to assess your personal tolerance. And consult your healthcare provider before taking cloves if you take any medications or have underlying health issues.
Best Practices for Using Cloves for Sexual Health
If you and your doctor decide cloves are worth a try, keep these tips in mind:
- Always check with your physician before using cloves or any supplement, especially if you take prescription medications.
- Inform your doctor about any side effects you may experience with cloves. Discontinue use if any concerning symptoms develop.
- Purchase cloves from reputable suppliers and avoid products with proprietary blends that don’t list exact ingredients and amounts.
- Look for cloves that are certified organic, ethically sourced, and sustainably grown whenever possible. This ensures higher quality and purity.
- Start slowly with small doses of cloves to gauge your personal response, then increase cautiously over time if needed.
- Combine cloves with healthy lifestyle changes – like eating nutritious whole foods, exercising, reducing stress, and not smoking – for optimal sexual health.
- Be patient and take cloves regularly for several weeks or months to allow the ingredients to accumulate in your body. But don’t expect miracles from cloves alone.
- View cloves as an adjunctive treatment to complement your doctor’s prescribed medical regimen, not replace it altogether.
Should You Use Cloves for ED or Male Sexual Health?
Some men take cloves in the hopes of boosting libido, testosterone levels, and erectile quality. According to historical use, animal research, and limited human studies, compounds like eugenol and caryophyllene in cloves may offer certain male sexual benefits. However, large rigorous human trials are still lacking.
Cloves may provide complementary vascular and hormonal support alongside conventional ED treatments prescribed by your doctor. But cloves alone are unlikely to cure most moderate to severe cases of erectile dysfunction requiring medical management. As with any supplement, speak to your healthcare provider first to see if trying cloves is appropriate for your situation.
While not a magic fix, adding small amounts of cloves to your meals may provide natural adjunctive support for enhancing male sexual function. But always work with your physician and never stop prescribing ED medications or treatments without medical supervision. Addressing erectile difficulties generally requires a multifaceted holistic approach. When combined with healthy lifestyle changes, prescription drugs as needed, and professional counseling, cloves can play a complementary role in supporting men’s sexual health.