PURE Vanilla Takes Center Stage

It was in the 1990s that perfume makers began to introduce vanilla into their fragrances, largely due to its “happy” aroma. Makes sense (no pun intended), right? When you smell it, doesn’t it call up thoughts of favorite treats, fun times, and pleasant memories of holidays?

I’m talking about PURE vanilla, though. Not the imitation that costs quite a bit less. The imitation was always my choice back when all my children were home and the grocery budget was tighter than wallpaper. This junk doesn’t have the same effects as the real stuff. (Note: the bottle label says it won’t bake out, but don’t you believe it!)

So when I was finally able to purchase quality vanilla, I was almost knocked off my feet by the difference in aroma and flavor. The taste of my baked goods improved drastically! Considering how good pure vanilla smells and tastes, I wondered whether it carried any other benefits.

Turns out, vanilla is not just a perfumer’s “feel good” scent. Abundant research shows it has an incredible capacity to expedite healing, improve acne and promote hair growth. This means it is a great multi-tasking tool to have in your natural health armory.

In a nutshell, here are the findings on PURE vanilla. It’s easy to see why it takes center stage:

It’s good for your heart. Vanilla can reduce cholesterol levels (which helps prevent blood clotting and inflammation of the arteries).
It has healing properties. Rich in antioxidants, vanilla helps prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues in the body and stimulate the body’s natural regrowth. Due to its antibacterial nature, it also serves to boost the immune system and lower stress on the body, making it much easier to recover from injury or illness.
It’s great for your hair. If you suffer with split-ends or hair loss, vanilla used as an essential oil can strengthen the hair and induce blood flow to the scalp promoting hair growth.
It can help with anxiety. Its strong aroma has a direct impact on the nerves that induce calm and relieve stress, particularly when used as part of an aromatherapy treatment.
It can reduce acne. With its antibacterial properties, vanilla can help to fight breakouts and if used regularly, reduce scars as well as brighten the complexion.
It promotes healthy digestion. Vanilla herbal tea is a popular natural remedy that instantly soothes gut inflammation, and helps with other digestion problems like cramping, stomach-ache and diarrhea.
It can help to ease respiratory conditions. When you’re battling with a cough, cold or respiratory infection, using vanilla extract mixed with a little warm water can help to coat the throat and provide an anaesthetic effect. And the antibacterial properties help to reduce inflammation and irritation.
It can aid weight loss. It supports weight loss goals due to its natural appetite-suppressing qualities. Also, because it can also help lower cholesterol, it helps the metabolism to run more efficiently, which also aids in weight loss.

But wait, there’s more. Here are other reasons why vanilla takes center stage:

  • A few drops of vanilla added to a can of paint will help eliminate unpleasant odors!
  • A vanilla bean under your car seat gives a fresh aroma and helps eliminate musty odors.
  • A teaspoon or so of vanilla in Italian tomato sauces or Mexican chili helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes!
  • In baking, cream the vanilla with the shortening or butter portion of the ingredients. The fat encapsulates the vanilla, preventing it from volatilizing (disappearing) in the baking process.
  • A few drops of pure vanilla extract can mask the smell of fish, garlic, and onions on your hands.

Now a closing thought: While I completely understand the reasoning around buying the imitation over the costly real deal, I have to say…considering the many benefits and clever uses of top-quality vanilla, it just makes scents (pun intended!) to buy the best!
  •   www.thymes.com
  •   www.thecookzone.com
  •   www.thespruceeats.com
  •   www.cooksillustrated.com

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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