For most people the word “vanilla” is associated with delicious ice creams, custards, cakes, biscuits cocktails and soft drinks, but the fact is that vanilla, especially if in form of essential oil, has more to offer then just its wonderful aroma.
Facts about vanilla essential oil
Vanilla essential oil is extracted from a substance obtained from fermented vanilla beans. Vanilla plant, called Vanilla Planifolia, is a creeper grown mainly in Mexico and other countries of Central America. The plant has beans that contain acetic acid, caproic acid, eugenol, furfural, isobutyric acid and vanillin hydroxybenzaldehyde.
The process of obtaining vanilla oil starts by curing, fermenting and drying green vanilla bean pods. They are then exposed to CO2 and to extraction. The CO2 distillation process is the key element for obtaining the delicious fragrance of the vanilla essential oil. The famous and mouth-watering aroma comes from the chemical component called vanillin, which comes in different concentrations. Some varieties of vanilla oil contain only few percents of vanillin, while some, like Madagascar vanilla oil, have as much as 27 percent.
Vanilla essential oil cannot be obtained by steam distillation and CO2 process is necessary.
Properties of vanilla essential oil
Vanilla essential oil, apart from its amazing aroma, has many other beneficial properties. Its effects are tranquilizing, refreshing, febrifuge, antidepressant, anti-carcinogenic, sedative, antioxidant and aphrodisiac.
Vanilla oil has significant antioxidant qualities. It prevents oxidation by free radicals and thus prevents many dangerous and potentially fatal diseases, like cancer.
The aroma of this essential oil is so soothing, calming and pleasant that it works as a great antidepressant. Even the synthetic form of the aroma has this effect, which is why everything that smells like vanilla is recommended for people who suffer from depression.
Vanilla essential oil improves sexual function too, in cases of erection problems, impotency, loss of libido and similar problems.
This essential oil is beneficial against illnesses that come with fever as a symptom, mainly because of eugenol and vanillin hydroxybenzaldehyde, which reduce inflammation.
Vanilla extract soothes the nerves and relieves muscle tension, helps against insomnia, prevents anxiety attacks and calms the nerves. It is a mild sedative which works by lowering the blood pressure and assuring sound, healthy sleep with no side effects.
It also activates female sex hormones and thus regulates menstrual cycles.
Vanilla essential oil blends well with other essential oil to make a real feast for the nose and the palate.