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Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking Cloves

04/29/1998

Question:

My girlfriend has a clinical depression. As a consequence, she started smoking cloves. I found out that they don't contain nicotine and therefore she claims that they are not addictive. Yet she smokes them everytime that she is in that car (she says: it relaxes her). Sometimes she has urges to have it in the house. She says that she has the craving for one. My question is if these cigarettes are addictive, (she claims it's only a habit), (I found out that they are causing the lungs bleeding) how harmful are they and how to get her to understand that? Thanks!

Answer:

Clove cigarettes are approximately 60% tobacco and therefore, are considered just as hazardous as regular cigarettes, including addiction. In addition, the smoke from clove cigarettes has eugenol, which is highly toxic in a volatilized form such as smoke. In this form, it is 2500 times more toxic than when eaten as the spice, cloves, in food.

Eugenol is a local anesthetic so when inhaled, it decreases the gag reflex, which can cause the user to develop an aspiration pneumonitis. Because of the poor gag reflex, the oral secretions enter the lungs and set up an inflammatory reaction.

Hemoptysis (coughing up blood), pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), shortness of breath and wheezing are other symptoms that can occur with inhalation of clove smoke.

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati