From London's Ghost Acres

Cloves are the armonatic flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, native to Indonesia. (

Cloves are listed as stimulants, a stomachic, and cordials in the Compendium. They are also pain relievers, with oil of cloves, and a mixture of cloves and laudanum being prescribed to treat toothaches.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Cloves Carophyllum

“The dried unexpanded flower buds of Caryophyllus aromaticus… Cultivated in Penang, Bencoolen, and Amboyna.” [1] Characteristics

“About six lines long, dark reddish-brown, plump, and heavy, consisting of a nearly cylindrical body surmounted by four teeth and a globular head, with strong fragrant odour, and a bitter spicy pungent taste. It emits oil when indented with the nail.” Used in the preparations of:[2]

  • Infusum Aurantii compositum
  • Infusum Caryophylli
  • Mistura Ferri Aromatics
  • Oleum Caryophylli
  • Vinum Opii

Preparations of DRUG

Confection of Scammony / Confectio Scammoni[3]

  • scammony, in fine powder (3 oz), ginger, in fine powder (1 ½ oz), oil of caraway (1 fl drachm), oil of clove (1/2 fl drachm), syrup (3 fl oz), clarified honey (1 ½ oz)
  • dose: 10-30 grains

Compound Infusion of Orange Peel / Infusum Aurantii compositum[4]

  • bitter orange peel, cut small (1/4 oz), fresh lemon peel, cut small (60 grains), cloves, bruised (30 grains), boiling distilled water (19 fl oz)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Infusion of Cloves / Infusum Caryophylli [5]

  • cloves, bruised (1/4 oz), boiling distilled water (10 fl oz)
  • dose: 1-4 fl oz

Aromatic Mixture of Iron / Mistura Ferri Aromatica[6]

  • pale-cinchona bark, in powder (1 oz), calumba root, in coarse powder (1/2 oz), cloves, bruised (1/4 oz), fine iron wire, (1/2 oz), compound tincture of cardamoms (3 fl oz), tincture of orange peel (1/2 fl oz), peppermint water (as needed)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Oil of Cloves / Oleum Caryophylli [7]

  • “the oil distilled in Britain from cloves”
  • “colourless when recent, but gradually becoming red-brown, having the odour of cloves and a pungent spicy taste. Sinks in water.”
  • Used in preparations of: Confectio Scammonii, Pilula Colocynthidis composite, Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyoscyami

Compound Pill of Colocynth / Pilula Colocynthidis composite [8](236)

  • colocynth pulp, in powder (1 oz), barbadoes aloes, in powder (2 oz), scammony, in powder (2 oz), sulphate of potash, in powder (1/4 oz), oil of cloves (2 fl drachms), distilled water
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Aromatic Powder of Chalk / Pulvis Cretae Aromaticus[9]

  • syn: confectio aromatic
  • cinnamon bark, in powder (4 oz), nutmeg, in powder (3 oz), saffron, in powder (3 oz), cloves, in powder (1 ½ oz), cardamom seeds, in powder (1 oz), refined sugar, in powder (25 oz), prepared chalk (11 oz)
  • dose: 10-60 grains

Wine of Opium / Vinum Opii [10]

  • extract of opium (1 oz), cinnamon bark, bruised (75 grains), cloves, bruised (75 grains), sherry (1 pint)
  • dose: 10-40 minims

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified by Savory as a stimulant, particularly a remedy “which speedily increases the frequency of the pulse and the heat of the body,” (415/394) and also as a stomachic and cordial[11]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Cloves

  • Aloes, Socotrine: oil of cloves included in “The Compound Cathartic Pills with Aloes,” to be taken occasionally at bed time.[12]
  • Bark, Canella: cloves are used in the recipe for usquebaugh (whiskey), which can be given to individuals “of gouty habit, or those liable to spasm or cramp in the stomach.”[13]
  • Cloves: added to bitters and other infusions for flavour and lessen negative effects on the stomach. Oil of cloves can be used to reduce griping caused by cathartic pills, and powdered cloves can be used with jalap to create a laxative pill.[14]
  • Extract of Colocynth, Compound : oil of cloves, or other carminatives (is that the right classification?) to reduce griping, when Compound extract of colocynth is used as a purgative.[15]
  • Gum Scammony: oil of cloves or peppermint can be combined with gum scammony in treating worms, and is also often combined with other purgatives when used with gum scammony.[16] Cloves are included in scammony pills that are taken at bed time.[17]
  • Infusions, Concentrated of cloves, calumbo, cascarilla, chamomile, gentian, orange peel, quassia, rhubarb, roses, and senna: used often in medicine chests as they can be diluted to form infusions. This allows for large doses to be provided in smaller amounts.[18]
  • Laudanum: combined with oil of cloves, laudanum can be applied to decayed teeth to provide instant pain relief.[19]
  • Oil of Cloves: Used to correct the griping caused by cathartic pills, and also used in treating toothaches.[20]
  • Pellitory of Spain: oil of cloves is included in a compound tincture that can be absorbed by cotton and placed on sore teeth and gums.[21]
  • Simaruba Bark: syrup of cloves used in a mixture used by (the late) Dr. Baillie, to treat diarrhoea in children.[22]

Diseases Treated with Cloves

General Diseases

  • Cholera Morbus: oil of cloves included in a pill mixture used to treat violent vomiting and pain in cholera that was not affected by earlier treatments.[23]
  • Ear, diseases of: if earlier treatments are unable to reduce inflammation, oil of cloves mixed with laudanum and oil of almonds is to be dropped into the ear and covered with cotton.[24]

Medical Articles Containing Cloves

  • Compound Infusion of Orange Peel: cloves, bruised[25]
  • Gout Tincture: cloves, bruised [26]

Prescriptions Containing Cloves


  • Antacid Draught: oil of cloves[27]

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Common Aperient Pills: oil of cloves[28]
  • Aperient Pills: Oil of cloves[29]
  • Aperient Pills for Dyspeptic Persons: oil of cloves[30]
  • Cathartic Pills: oil of cloves[31]


  • Asiatic Tincture for Cholera: oil of cloves[32]
  • Turpentine Mixture: syrup of cloves[33]
  • Dr. Baillie’s Mixture for Children: syrup of cloves[34]


  • Stimulant Mixture: syrup of cloves[35]


  • Tonic Mixture for Children: syrup of cloves[36]
  • Stomachic Pills: oil of cloves[37]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 72
  2. GMCGB, 72
  3. GMCGB, 88-89
  4. GMCGB, 157-58
  5. GMCGB, 158
  6. GMCGB, 210
  7. GMCGB, 221
  8. GMCGB, 236
  9. GMCGB, 263
  10. GMCGB, 368
  11. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 395.
  12. Savory, 32
  13. Savory, 18
  14. Savory, 47
  15. Savory, 61
  16. Savory, 77
  17. Savory, 78
  18. Savory, 84
  19. Savory, 92
  20. Savory, 107
  21. Savory, 116
  22. Savory, 134
  23. Savory, 222
  24. Savory, 229
  25. Savory, 289
  26. Savory, 300
  27. Savory, 306
  28. Savory, 313
  29. Savory, 313
  30. Savory, 313-14
  31. Savory, 314
  32. Savory, 319
  33. Savory, 320
  34. Savory, 320
  35. Savory, 333
  36. Savory, 334
  37. Savory, 335

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