Aromatherapy
Vanilla

Vanilla planifolia

The essential oil of vanilla is obtained by a method known as solvent extraction. This essential oil is extracted from a resinous substance that is acquired from fermented beans of vanilla. These beans grow on a creeper called the vanilla plant, whose scientific name is Vanilla planifolia. These vines are native to Mexico and adjoining countries.

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Vanilla is reputed for its distinctive flavour and scent. While preparing baked foods as well as different confectioneries, vanilla is of immense importance in the kitchen. However, vanilla is not only for flavoring ice cream and other such products. Moreover, one doesn't essentially use the term "vanilla" only to explain the color of the sky or to refer to any dull rapper. In fact, the essential oil of vanilla is used for various purposes, especially for the health benefits offered by it.

Several thousand years back, people discovered that the sweet aroma of vanilla was effective for curing various health conditions, including stomach disorders, morning sickness, male impotency and even for soothing the agitated nerves.

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According to available documents, the origin of using vanilla for therapeutic purposes dates back to the original derivatives of the vanilla vines. In the early days, people extracted substances by pressing the vanilla flowers. These substances were used to produce the conventional aromatherapy oils, which were employed for treating various ailments. Cultivation of vanilla is quite cumbersome, as it is a very labour intensive work. Therefore, it is one of the most expensive essential oil in the market that is used for health purposes. Vanilla essential oil is removed from the interior of the vanilla plant, processed and subsequently bottled in the form of a concentrate.

In fact, dried pods of vanilla are also available commercially. Extracts of vanilla bean are used to flavour ice creams, confectionery items, liqueurs, coffee as well as baked items.

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Aromatherapy with the essential oil of vanilla offers numerous health benefits, which include increased mental clarity, improved blood circulation, clearing up the respiratory airways, bringing down body temperature during fevers, in addition to facilitating weight loss. It is believed that the therapeutic benefits of vanilla essential oil also include alleviating stomach aches, alleviating stress and reducing appetite, which results in weight loss. Europeans were of the view that vanilla also helps to alleviate joint pains as well as improve digestion. The native inhabitants of the South Pacific islands traditionally used vanilla to soothe the stomach of women during pregnancy, especially those who suffer from acute morning sickness. Findings of latest scientific studies have claimed that vanilla also possesses the aptitude to treat impotency in males.

Some of the health benefits offered by vanilla are discussed briefly below.

As vanilla essential oil encloses eugenol and another compound called vanillin hydroxybenzaldehyde, it is also employed to reduce fever. Moreover, the sedative attributes of vanilla essential oil are effective against inflammation and assist in controlling fevers that are caused by various types of infections.

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It is worth mentioning that antioxidant quality of the essential oil of vanilla is alone capable of dealing with nearly all your problems. While many people may not be conscious of this vital fact, oxidation is among the biggest reasons for most of the health disorders as well as diseases suffered by us. In fact, oxidation is directly as well as indirectly liable for several diseases caused by infections and malfunctioning of the organs. Free radicals, also known as oxidizers, are responsible for oxidation of the living tissues and cells and scorch them resulting in their death. Alternatively, the free radicals may also alter the DNA structure of the living cells and make them carcinogenic. Over a period of time, such degeneration of cells will lead to a deteriorating of immune system, malfunctioning of the nervous system and organs, loss of memory, progressive vision and hearing impairment, macular degeneration, and mental instability, making the body more susceptible to various diseases.

Vanilla essential oil possesses potent antioxidant attributes, which helps it to counteract these harmful free radicals and save the body from harms caused by infections, protects against wear and tear as well as a number of cancer forms, for instance colon cancer and prostate cancer. In addition, use of vanilla essential oil also helps to mend the damages already suffered by the body and, at the same time promote its repairing.

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The anti-carcinogenic property of vanilla essential oil is more or less attributed to the oil's antioxidant properties. Free radicals (oxidants) are not only detrimental for our health because they damage the living cells and tissues, but also because they are often responsible for certain forms of cancer, like colon and prostate cancers. Vanilla essential oil contains a number of compounds that restrain the growth and development of carcinogenic cells and, hence, helps to prevent, cure and inhibit cancer.

Just imagine a situation where you are sitting by yourself and feeling depressed. All of a sudden, someone gets a beverage having vanilla flavour or a vanilla ice cream cone for you. You consume it and your mood is lifted all of a sudden driving away depression. After consuming the vanilla-flavoured ice cream or drink you begin to feel satisfied, pleased and your mood gets better. This is indicative of one of the key advantages of the potent aroma of vanilla. While the results are much better if the aroma is of real vanilla, but even the aroma of synthetic vanilla or artificially amalgamated vanillin hydroxybenzaldehyde is also effective. The flavour of vanilla itself is so enjoyably sweet as well as soothing that all concerned, including toddlers to aged, take delight in this flavour. Basically, vanillin hydroxybenzaldehyde is a constituent of the essential oil of vanilla and it is an effectual mood lifter as well as anti-depressant.

The essential oil of vanilla is said to possess aphrodisiac properties and known to be effective in curing impotency in males. It has been found that administering vanilla essential oil on a regular and systematic basis to males enduring impotency, can help to cure a number of disorders like frigidity, erectile dysfunction (ED), loss of libido or craving for sexual activities. The essential oil of vanilla helps to promote secretion of specific hormones such as estrogen and testosterone that facilitate in restoring usual sexual behaviour and, at the same time, encourage sexual arousal.

Vanilla essential oil also possesses sedative properties and this helps to calm the body in many different ways. Use of this aromatic essential oil helps to alleviate various different types of inflammation as well as hyperactivity in the different systems of our body, counting digestive, circulatory, nervous, respiratory, and excretory systems. The essential oil of vanilla also helps to lessen inflammation caused by fevers, in addition to alleviating anxiety, hypersensitivity to allergens, stress and convulsions.

The essential oil of vanilla also helps to relax the body and the mind, besides having a soothing effect on the brain as well as the nerves. This action of the oil is useful in providing relief from anger, anxiety and restiveness.

The essential oil of vanilla is beneficial for people suffering from insomnia. Using this oil before going to bed at night ensures a sound sleep throughout the night. This effect of vanilla essential oil is attributed to its sedative as well as relaxing qualities. This oil also facilitates in lowering high blood pressure and has a sedative effect on the brain. When you apply the oil at bed time, it makes it difficult to remain awake. In order to ensure a good sleep at night, apply a little amount of the aromatic oil or the extract of vanilla pods to your pillow and you will fall asleep soon after.

As the essential oil is a very potent antioxidant, it is excellent for skin care too. Adding some drops of the essential oil of vanilla to your preferred face pack will help in putting off damages caused to the skin cells owing to the toxic effects of various toxins and pollutants.

You may also use the aromatic vanilla essential oil for hair care, particularly with various other ingredients. You can blend the essential oil of vanilla with other substances like coconut oil, almond oil, virgin olive oil and jojoba oil for treating hair loss. In fact, these are some of the favourite blends used for the purpose and using these can also helps to keep your hair silky smooth.

Findings of several scientific researches have suggested that vanillin, the compound that is responsible for the flavour of vanilla beans, aids in shielding the red blood cells (erythrocytes) from changing their shape to a sickle form. When the red blood cells are sickle shaped, the condition is called sickle cell disease and it causes obstruction in the blood vessels.

General properties

  • anti-carcinogenic
  • anti-depressant
  • antioxidant
  • aphrodisiac
  • febrifuge
  • relaxing
  • sedative
  • tranquilizing

Blends well with

General uses

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • colon cancer
  • depression
  • fever
  • hair problem
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of libido
  • male impotency
  • morning sickness
  • prostate cancer
  • sickle cell disease
  • stomach problems
  • stress
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