The vanilla plant is an herbaceous climbing vine which requires a supporting tree or pole for optimal growth. It bears trumpet-shaped flowers which are naturally pollinated by bees and hummingbirds and even hand pollinated. Unripe vanilla pods turn yellow when they grow 5 to 8 inches long and are ready to harvest. These are then blanched in boiling water, sweated and sun-dried for a few weeks until they turn dark brown and wrinkled. Then the white crystalline essence known as vanillin is extracted from some superior quality beans. This essence is referred to as the vanilla flavor.
BENEFITS OF VANILLA EXTRACT FOR SKIN AND HAIR
- Treatment of Acne: The antibacterial properties of vanilla make it beneficial for the treatment of acne. Vanillin, through its antibacterial effects, helps cleanse your skin, reducing the occurrence of pimples and acne.
- Anti-aging Benefits: Vanilla is rich in antioxidants which prevent and reverse skin damage caused by free radicals. It helps to slow down signs of ageing like fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. It is widely used in the cosmetic industry for its fragrance and anti-ageing benefits. Applying raw vanilla beans infused with organic oil imparts a great chocolaty fragrance besides making your skin smooth and soft.
- Soothes Burns: Vanilla has been used as a traditional remedy to heal burns, wounds, and cuts. Concentrated vanilla extracts or essential oil should not be applied directly to recent burns. Topical treatments containing vanilla extracts might be helpful. It is advisable to consult your doctor before using any such home remedies for burns.
- Promotes Healthy Skin: Vanilla is a good source of B-vitamins like niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid which play an important role in the maintenance of healthy skin. The antioxidant properties of vanilla protect your skin from damage caused by environmental pollutants and toxins. You can prepare a scrub to revive your skin from within. All you need to do is slice open 5 vanilla beans to scrape out its seeds. Add these seeds along with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 drops vanilla essential oil to freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix the ingredients and apply it on your face. Massage for a few minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Then, splash some cold water on your face.
- Vanilla for Silky Hair: Vanilla can make your hair silky, shiny and smooth.
- Promotes Hair Growth: Both carrier and essential oils help in promoting hair growth.
- Treatment of Anxiety and Depression: Certain neurological studies have proved that vanilla extract can have a positive effect on those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. Vanilla scent is specifically helpful for this purpose. This aromatic spice is beneficial for your nervous system. Research conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York indicated that exposure to vanilla aromatherapy has proven to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of claustrophobia.
- Aids Weight Loss: Certain studies have shown that vanilla extract can help people lose weight. Though exercise and diet play a primary role in weight loss, these efforts can be supplemented with the intake of vanilla extract for greater benefits. Further research is needed to substantiate this claim.
- Relieves Nausea: One of the best benefits of vanilla extract is that it can help calm the stomach in case of a feeling of nausea
- Treatment of Cough: The mild anaesthetic properties of vanilla extract can relieve symptoms such as pain from a sore throat or headache.
- Dental Health: Vanillin in vanilla is similar to capsaicin in chili peppers and euganols in spices such as cinnamon. This compound has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Capsaicin is an effective pain reliever while euganols act as topical anaesthetics. Vanilla possesses both these properties which help fight a toothache and infection.
- Aphrodisiac Properties: Vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times. Certain studies on aromatherapy have proved that vanilla can increase sexual desire by boosting testosterone levels in men. Usage of vanilla has proven to be effective in curing their impotency. Its aroma induces feelings of pleasure and satiation.
- Treatment of Menstrual Problems: Vanilla extract is beneficial in the regulation of menstruation. It can be used by women with irregular periods to regulate their cycles. Though several medications are available for the treatment of these problems, slight problems can be cured by making vanilla extract a part of your diet.
- Aids Wound Healing: The usage of vanilla extract for healing wounds dates back to ancient times. Its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe and calm inflamed areas on the skin. It is considered a great home remedy for wound healing. Note that the direct use of vanilla extract on open wounds and burns should be avoided.
- Antioxidant Properties: The distinct flavor and health benefits of vanilla essence can be attributed to the presence of about 200 compounds which possess antioxidant properties. The high level of antioxidants reduces free radicals in your body. These free radicals are the waste products resulting from normal as well as harmful metabolic processes. They can cause various diseases including cancer. Vanilla possesses both antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties (14).