Health Benefits of Vanilla

The vanilla is an orchid belonging to the family of Orchidaceae and Vanilla genre. Originally, Vanilla is scientifically named Vanilla planifolia is native to Mexico. Today, there are three main subspecies for global production, with most of the vanilla produced in the world being of the Vanilla planifolia variety. The others are V. tahitensis , and V. pompona.

Extracted from the fruits of the vanilla orchid, we obtain the spice of the same name. Used worldwide as a flavoring, vanilla is appreciated for its peculiar floral aroma and its slightly peppery, sweet and delicate flavor.

Vanilla essence is used in aromatherapy as well as in cooking to lightly flavor and sweeten recipes. We can use vanilla powder, extract or essence to flavor cakes, sweet pastries, pancakes, puddings, ice cream, cookies, creams and dessert sauces. Vanilla can also be used in perfumery and folk medicine.

Vanilla has long been used in folk medicine as a muscle and sexual stimulant. The application and massage with its essential oil is indicated for cases of anxiety and insomnia, as it has a calming action. One of the benefits of vanilla being studied is its use for weight loss. According to research, the aroma of vanilla alters the levels of serotonin in the brain and reduces the craving for sweets. Vanilla has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and substances capable of lowering cholesterol.


Vanilla is a very expensive spice, only sometimes extracts, powders or essences are produced artificially, making production cheaper but poor in nutrients. In artificial vanilla, only one of the vanilla elements is used, vanillin, which is obtained from vanillin lignin, derived from wood pulp, and vanillin ethyl, obtained through the chemical manipulation of coal tar.

Natural vanilla is obtained by extracting it from the fruits of the Vanilla planifolia orchid. From this process, we obtain the vanilla bean, which is nothing more than the extraction of vanilla, where the fruit is placed in a liquid with at least 35% alcohol, in order to extract all its aroma and flavor from the more than 250 elements that make it up. .

It is necessary to pay attention to the labels of the products we consume to ensure that the essence is actually obtained from natural vanilla, guaranteeing its benefits and properties.


Although its use as a natural remedy is not the main reason for consuming vanilla, it has several properties that are beneficial to the health of the entire body. Among the properties of vanilla stand out aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, antiseptic, flavoring, calming, digestive, stimulating, muscle relaxant and as a tonic in general.

Thus, those who suffer from insomnia, anxiety, diarrhea, flatulence, spasms, fever, rheumatism and impotence, benefit from the use of this plant to treat these problems. Vanilla is also good for the brain and can slow neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and fight cancer cells.

  • Beneficial in the treatment of acne : the antibacterial action of vanilla cleanses and treats the skin, helping to treat pimples and acne.
  • Fights premature aging : because it contains antioxidants, vanilla fights free radicals that speed up the aging process, so its consumption delays the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes. Vanilla is used by the cosmetic industry in the manufacture of anti-aging creams.
  • Beneficial for the skin and to relieve burns : as a source of B vitamins and antioxidants, vanilla is beneficial for the health of the skin, keeping it healthy. There have been reports of vanilla being used as a medicine to treat burns, wounds and cuts in general. Its extract or oil can be applied directly to the wound. Its antibacterial property cleans and treats the skin.
  • Beneficial for the hair : vanilla, combined with other compounds, can be used in the manufacture of shampoos and providing more shine to the hair. A vanilla mask can be prepared to apply the hair to make it silkier and smoother. Vanilla oil also provides healthier hair growth.
  • Fights anxiety and depression : the aroma of vanilla can have a positive effect on the brain and aid in the treatment of those suffering from anxiety disorders and depression. An easy recipe is to add vanilla extract to milk to reduce anxiety and soothe. The effect of vanilla aroma on the brain may be even more beneficial, studies have shown that aromatherapy with vanilla essence is effective in relieving the symptoms of claustrophobia.
  • Beneficial for Relieving Nausea : Vanilla helps to calm the stomach and relieves the feeling of nausea. Just add a few drops of vanilla extract to a glass of water and take it slowly.
  • Vanilla extract is beneficial against coughing : the anesthetic properties of vanilla help relieve symptoms such as sore throat and headache. In addition, vanilla extract is often used by the pharmaceutical industry to mask the bitter taste of syrups.
  • Beneficial for digestion : Vanilla is traditionally used to combat vomiting and stomach upset. When added to herbal teas, it enhances the power to alleviate digestive problems. Its aroma also plays a role in relieving discomfort.
  • Vanilla is an aphrodisiac : since ancient times vanilla has been used to increase sexual desire and aromatherapy studies have proven this aphrodisiac effect. Vanilla is still used in cases of sexual impotence and its aroma induces feelings of pleasure and satiety.
  • Beneficial for regulating menstrual problems : Vanilla extract can be used by women to regulate menstrual cycles.


Vanilla is an orchid native to Mexico that can reach more than 10 meters in length. Its fruits, the pods, are about 10 to 25 cm long and 5 to 15 mm in diameter, with several seeds. The vanilla spice contains several aromatic compounds, the main one being vanillin and the Vanilla planifólia species , which has the most of this compound.

As vanilla seeds are usually not viable and take a long time to flower, planting is usually done by vanilla seedling with a spacing of 1 to 3 meters between each and rooting and the start of growth usually takes 4 to 6 weeks .

The plant begins to produce flowers only after the fourth year of cultivation and the pods must be harvested when they are beginning to ripen. Once harvested, the pods undergo drying and maturation process before they are ready for consumption, which is called vanilla curing.


Cerrado vanilla, scientific name Vanilla edwalli , is a kind of vanilla that grows in the Brazilian cerrado, especially in the region of Goiás, having a strong connection with the state.

Also known as “banana vanilla”, it is used to flavor different types of sweet foods, such as ice cream, chocolates, drinks and cakes, giving flavor and preserving food for longer. It is also used in perfumery and to a lesser extent as a medicinal plant, widely used in the treatment of coughs and pneumonia, in teas and syrups and in Candomblé practices.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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