Vanilla Benefits

The Mexican Aztecs have known vanilla benefits for many ages. They used it as a fragrance (flavoring) for their favorite drink, made with cocoa grains and corn flour. The Spanish carried it to Europe in the late 16th century, but the plant did not take roots. In 1836, a Belgian botanist found the vanilla tree could only be pollinated by an insect that lives in Mexico. Anywhere else, it needed artificial pollination.

vanilla benefits with plants leaves and fruits (bean pods)

Vanilla Scientific Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Vanilla plantifolia Andrews.
  2. Scientific Synonyms: Vanilla fragans (Salisb.) Ames.
  3. French: Vanillier.
  4. Spanish: Vainilla.
  5. Environment: Native to Mexico, it has been spread to other tropical regions in America (Columbia, Venezuela, the West Indies), Africa (Madagascar), and Asia.
  6. Description: Climbing plant of the Orchidaceae family, whose stems may grow up to thirty m long. It has aerial roots that stick to the tree and serve as support. It has fleshy leaves and large (15 cm) blackish-ochre pods with many seeds.
  7. Parts of the plant used medicinally: The green pods.

Vanilla Benefits

bean pods on top of wooden bowl filled with vanilla pudding

The active principle of vanilla is vanillosid, a glycoside that, during the drying process, becomes vanillin, the substance which gives vanilla its typical aroma. Vanilla has stomachic, digestive, choleretic (increases the bile secretion), mildly stimulating, and according to some people, aphrodisiac properties. Although its present use is only as a seasoning, it is worth remembering its invigorating benefits to digestive functions.

How to use Vanilla

  1. Vanilla is used as sugar, syrup, or tincture.
  2. However, the most usual method to obtain its authentic aroma is by boiling its pods with the substance you want to flavor: chocolate, infusions, desserts, etc.

Vanilla gives a pleasant flavor to sweet desserts and infusions, besides invigorating the digestive function.

REFERENCES

George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 376. Print. [vanilla benefits]

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