At Foodcraft we believe that food is our medicine and herbs are our powerful healing partners for physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts used for a variety of purposes, including aromatherapy, skin care, and natural remedies.
We like to share the benefits of essential oils by focusing on specific oils in each blog.
Vanilla is a popular flavoring in pastries and food. But it’s not all taste and aroma. Vanilla essential oil has medicinal properties that go beyond the four walls of the kitchen.
Vanilla essential oil contains vanilla, a vine-like evergreen plant, belonging to the orchid family. There are about 110 species of vanilla. The primary source of vanilla is Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla or Vanilla planifolia. It is native to Central America and the West Indies and is highly preferred for its sweet, warm flavor and distinctive aroma.
These vines can grow up to 35 meters tall. It grows naturally on trees or grows on tree poles. Its brownish red or black pods are where the oil is extracted. These pods contain an oily liquid in which the seeds are found. Vanilla flowers have a tube-like shape and only bloom once they are fully grown. They are naturally pollinated by a specific insect called Melipona bee found in Mexico and if these flowers are not pollinated they fall the next day. In the plantations, the vanilla is pollinated by hand by hired laborers to ensure a stable production. Madagascar and Indonesia are the leading suppliers of vanilla oil in the world.
There are three main species of vanilla: Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla tahitensis and Vanilla pompona. The first species is favored for its high vanillin content.
The main compound in vanilla is vanillin, and it is responsible for its distinctive flavor and aroma. The higher the vanillin content in it, the more health benefits it has. Other compounds present in the oil are eugenol, piperonal and caproic acid. Vanillin and piperonal give vanilla its delicious taste and many of its health benefits.
The flavor or aroma of vanilla that we know is the result of months of drying, curing and extracting the seeds. These days we call it synthetic vanilla. Synthetic vanilla contains less vanillin and is therefore not as effective as vanilla essential oil. It may give a similar scent but the health benefits are not the same.
Traditional Uses of Vanilla Essential Oil
It is said that the Totonacs were the first to cultivate vanilla in the mountains of Mexico during the ancient Aztec period. They call it black flower. They were the first to flavor vanilla and develop it as a food source. Vanilla was also used to add flavor to foods and to sweeten their drinks.
Spanish explorers were the first to bring vanilla to Europe, Africa and Asia in the 16th century. The Spanish call it vanilla which means “little pod”. Vanilla became a popular flavor for confectionery and perfume ingredients in Europe.
Vanilla was used in ancient times as a fever cure and aphrodisiac.
Benefits of using vanilla essential oil
Inhibits the growth of cancer cells
The anti-carcinogenic property of vanilla helps the body fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress leads to the development of cancer. Vanilla has the potential to be a natural compound for treating diseases as it inhibits the growth of cancer cells caused by free radicals.
The antibacterial properties of vanilla oil are effective in fighting bacteria that are commonly found on the skin and in the respiratory tract. Its eugenol and vanillin content enable it to fight infection.
Vanilla has been used as a home remedy for depression and anxiety since the 17th century. It helps calm the mind, reduce anxiety and stress, and manage emotions like anger.
Vanilla is a sedative that helps people suffering from insomnia. Vanilla oil has a calming and relaxing effect on the brain and nerves. Adding lavender or chamomile essential oils to vanilla can give a deeper and more relaxing effect.
Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure can put pressure on the heart and lead to stroke, diabetes or heart attack. By relaxing both body and mind, vanilla oil can help lower blood pressure.
Acts as an aphrodisiac
Vanilla aroma is said to have a positive effect on men’s sex drive. Vanilla oil is helpful for those suffering from damage Libido and impotence. It can stimulate the release of hormones like estrogen and testosterone, which can increase sexual behavior and desire.
This is good for skin and hair
Vanilla oil contains certain compounds and nutrients, such as vitamin B, that are good for the skin. It promotes healthy skin and prevents signs of skin aging such as wrinkles, age spots and fine lines.
Relief for menstrual cramps
Its common symptoms are: Premenstrual symptoms These include mood swings, bloating, breast tenderness, cramps and even fatigue. Since vanilla oil can stimulate the production of estrogen, menstruation becomes more regular and with it relief from various symptoms of PMS.
Using vanilla oil in a diffuser or placing a few drops of it on a handkerchief and inhaling it can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms of colds and allergies.
When the body suffers an infection or injury, inflammation usually occurs. Vanilla is known to be anti-inflammatory. This property of vanilla oil helps in various systems of the body. It also works against inflammation caused by allergies, fever and convulsions. It is also used to treat pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
Safety tips and warnings
While vanilla extract is safe to consume, vanilla oil is not. Vanilla extract and vanilla oil are not the same.
Vanilla oil is fragrant and safe for topical use, but remember that essential oils should first be mixed with a carrier oil before applying directly to the skin. It is best to do a patch skin test to see if there is any irritation.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children are not advised to use vanilla essential oil.
Because vanilla essential oil is expensive, finding something for a significantly lower price means it is synthetically produced and may not contain all the compounds found in vanilla essential oil.
Credits: Innerfire Co