Last month I shared the soothing drink I have when I catch a cold: honey, lemon, ginger, cloves and coconut oil with hot water.

Why include cloves? Well they have anaesthetic properties, useful for a sore throat. You can even chew one or pop one against your gums if you have toothache.

In the depths of winter, mulled wine (gluhwein, vin brulé) is fantastically warming. There are cloves in that too as well as cinnamon and nutmeg.

When we were small, we used to stick cloves into an orange, with a bit of ribbon round, then put it in the airing cupboard to dry and give it to Grandma as a Christmas present. Smells divine!

We tend to use herbs and spices this way – for flavour and pleasure – without thinking much about their beneficial properties. As well as being a mild anaesthetic, cloves are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, help digestion and reduce wind. They have been used as insect repellent.

We can buy them cheaply now but cloves and other spices used to be worth their weight in gold so they’ll actually really special.

Caution – some people have allergic reactions to cloves and they may interfere with blood thinners.