Vanilla is a spice that comes from a fruit-bearing orchid. Vanilla extract is a liquid form of vanilla concentrate commonly used in cooking and baking. For centuries, people have used vanilla as an herbal remedy. Today, vanilla is mostly used as a cooking ingredient. However, several scientific studies do support health benefits in vanilla extract.
According to Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, vanilla has a long history of use to help treat topical wounds such as scrapes and cuts on the skin. Other historical uses of vanilla include treatment for the effects of poisonous snake bites and nausea. While most people no longer use vanilla as a treatment for these ailments, vanilla has other health benefits still used in modern medicine.
Vanilla has approximately 200 compounds that make up its distinct flavor and give the spice its health benefits. Many of the compounds found in vanilla have antioxidant properties. In fact, studies conducted by the Central Food Technological Research Institute conclude that vanilla may have both antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties. These properties may allow the use of vanilla extract components in health supplements. However, the study also concluded that most people do not consume enough vanilla to gain health benefits from the health attributes of vanilla extract.
Other Health Benefits
According to Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, vanilla may also help regulate menstrual cycles. Additionally, vanilla can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, improve skin tone and boost metabolism, which can potentially stimulate weight-loss effects in your body. Studies conducted by the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and St. George’s Hospital in London also support these findings.
Benefits for Children
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicines also recommends adding vanilla extract to a warming pot of milk with a teaspoon of sugar as an herbal remedy to help reduce fever and fight internal infections in children. Additionally, studies conducted at the St. George’s Hospital in London confirm that vanilla extract can help calm an upset stomach. Children may also appreciate the taste of this remedy.
- "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry"; Studies on the Antioxidant Activities of Natural Vanilla Extract and its Constituent Compounds Through In Vitro Models; BN Shyamala; August 2007
- Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine; Thomas Bartram; 2002
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine; Andrew Chevallier; 2000
- The Spice House: Vanilla
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.