Vanilla oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 6:4 min

Vanilla oil is obtained from the vanilla bean. Its scent is typically sweet and one of the most widespread aromas - famous around the globe. Vanilla oil is not only used as a fragrance in a wide variety of products, but is also widely used in medicine.

Name Vanilla
Lat. Name Vanilla planifolia
Synonyms Vanilla, Vanillin, Vanilleae
Origin Mexico and Central America
Price per 10ml 3

Due to Vanilla ois high pricel, the synthetic variant vanillin is often used for flavouring. However, vanillin is not suitable for the treatment of health problems because it lacks the active ingredients that the natural vanilla oil contains. Therefore, when looking to purchase, ensure that you are shopping for the natural variant.

Psychological impact

Vanilla oil has an powerful calming effect on the mind. It helps soothe irritability, release stress and inner tension. But it also has a balanced effect - it is stimulating in cases of fatigue. In psychotherapy, it is often used to treat burnout. The oil also works very well against depressive moods because it promotes a sense of security. The scent of vanilla oil is also considered a stimulatory aphrodisiac, often more effective for men and can stimulate male fantasies.

Physical effect

Vanilla oil has some very positive effects on the internal systems. It is antibacterial, fungicidal, anti-inflammatory, while also improves blood circulation, and soothes pain. Because of these many properties, the oil can be used successfully against a variety of ailments.

For clear unblemished skin

This is probably the best known effect of vanilla oil. Since it has a vasodilatory, circulation-enhancing effect, vanilla oil can be used effectively to care for the skin. The increased blood circulation promotes the regeneration of new skin cells. This allows old dying cells to be replaced by new ones more quickly- and promotes healing. The anti-inflammatory effect of the oil is also good for our skin. Inflammatory skin diseases such as pimples can also be treated successfully with vanilla oil.

Antifungal

One of the strongest properties of vanilla oil is its action against fungi. Sufferers of athlete's foot, or nail or skin fungus, the oil can be applied locally. The fungus will die after only a few days.

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Cancer

Vanilla oil contains a lot of antioxidants that protect our DNA from mutations and thus prevents certain cancers. Furthermore, several components of vanilla oil are suspected of being able to fight pre-existing cancer. These ingredients have been the subject of several clinical studies.

Alzheimers

The properties of vanilla oil against Alzheimer's are also being researched. The antioxidants in the oil are suspected of being able to slow the course of the disease.

Headaches

Vanilla oil is able to block certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that are responsible for the signal transmission between nerves. By blocking precisely these messenger substances, signals such as pain can no longer be transmitted. Headaches are relieved.

Side effects

Vanilla oil can be slightly toxic in cases of strong and long lasting contact. A number of illnesses, known under the collective term '' vanillism '', are common among workers on vanilla plantations. The workers mostly complain of insomnia, headaches and nausea. These complaints seem to mainly manifest themselves in people who work with vanilla and are therefore exposed to the ingredients for a long time. Vanilla oil is also a known allergen. For vanilla allergy sufferers, the allergy usually manifests itself in the form of facial swelling.

Application | Uses

Like most essential oils, vanilla oil is irritating to the skin. If you want to use the oil for external use on the skin, never do so in its pure form. Add 7-8 drops of vanilla oil to approx. 10 ml of a suitable carrier oil, such as safflower or apricot oil. To full the sweet smell of vanilla into your house or apartment, you can of course simply heat the oil pure in a fragrance lamp or a diffuser. 

Vanilla oil essence is particularly popular in the kitchen. It is used worldwide to refine pastries and desserts. Vanilla is particularly common during Christmas, which is why the smell always reminds us of the holiday season. Vanilla is very often an important fragrance component in perfumes. The oil alone however, can also be used as a perfume.

Manufacturing

Vanilla oil is obtained by extraction with ethanol or N-hexane. Up to 3 kg of vanilla beans are required to obtain 1 liter of vanilla oil. Assuming an average price of $ 400 for 1kg, 1l of vanilla oil will start at $ 1200.

Make your own vanilla oil

You can also make vanilla oil at home. All you need is pure alcohol and some vanilla beans. Place the vanilla pods with the alcohol in a mason jar and put them in a warm place. The process should be complete after approximately 4 weeks. Now, open the glass, and pour the alcohol into a bowl. You will have to wait until all the alcohol has evaporated. This remaining particulate is your own home made vanilla oil! 

However, always make sure to ventilate the room in which the bowl is located. Since alcohol can also be absorbed through mucous membranes, alcohol vapours can be accidentally absorbed.

Ingredients

The biologically active components in vanilla oil are:

  • Vanilin
  • Vanillic acid
  • Vanillyl alcohol
  • Protocatechic acid
  • Protocatechualdehyde
  • History

    Vanilla was known to the Aztecs as cacixanatl long before the Europeans arrived. The Aztecs used vanilla to make a drink from cocoa beans, water and vanilla. During this period, the vanilla was considered a luxury and was reserved for nobility. For example, the famous Aztec ruler Montezuma is said to have consumed up to 50 cups of a vanilla mix a day. Peoples conquered by the Aztecs very often had to pay tribute to them in the form of vanilla. 

Spanish traders then brought the valuable pods to Europe. There too, the vanilla was only accessible to the rich population. Spain had a strong monopoly on vanilla. The illegal exportation of vanilla was punishable by death! After Mexico's independence in 1810, the first cuttings of the vanilla plant came to Europe. Finally, in 1822 the Dutch brought the plant to Reunion.

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Botany

The vanilla is a plant from the genus '' Vanilla '' which is divided into 110 types. However, there are only 15 types of vanilla that provide aromatic pods. The most commonly used type of vanilla is vanilla spice. Tahitian vanilla and Madagascar vanilla are also quite widespread. Both are named after their respective growing areas. The original distribution area of vanilla spice is in Mexico and Central America. Today, however, it is mainly grown on Madagascar and the island of Reunion. Reunion used to be called Bourbon, which is why very high quality vanilla is also known as Bourbon Vanilla.

Cultivation

Vanilla plants form capsular fruits, up to 30 cm long, also called pods. However, these pods only actually produce the classic vanilla taste after harvest. To create the aroma of vanilla, a complex process, called black tanning, is necessary. When blackening, the pods are first treated with hot water and then fermented in the absence of air. This process can take up to 4 weeks. The drying and fermentation process transforms chemical precursors into the flavouring substance vanillin.

Real vanilla is now considered an exquisite and expensive fragrance. This is not only due to the complex processing process, but above all to the pollination of the vanilla plants. Since the vanilla is mainly cultivated outside of its natural range, the natural pollinating insects are also missing. This is why vanilla is mainly pollinated by hand.

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