Did you know that 90% of the vanilla consumed in the world is synthetic?
That’s because real vanilla is precious, difficult to produce, and one of the most highly valued spices in the world!
It first grew in ancient Central America, where the Totonac people used it for medicinal and religious purposes. Eventually, however, it was discovered by the Aztecs, who used it in their hot chocolate, and then the Spanish Conquistadors, who brought it to Europe. And after that, it wasn’t long before it became one of the most iconic dessert flavorings in the world!
But don’t let it’s popularity fool you!
In its pure form, vanilla is a complicated scent, with more than 200 different aromatic compounds contributing to its scent! And, depending on where you get it from, it can have smoky, woody, or even buttery undertones!
Essential oil or Absolute?
Vanilla isn’t like a lot of other plants. The molecules that make up its unique and alluring scent are stubborn and can’t be extracted from the plant material in the typical way of most essential oils.
Instead, the beans that produce this iconic flavoring have to be carefully treated with a solvent (rather than by steam distillation) in order to draw out the complete “vanilla” aromatic profile. And the result is called an “absolute” rather than an “essential oil”.
Benefits of Vanilla Absolute
Vanilla and its lovely-smelling absolute have been used in traditional medicine for many years and for many different purposes.
One of the most popular uses for vanilla is for promoting better sleep! Its pleasant and alluring scent can be used to relax the body and the mind, making it easier to achieve deep and restful sleep patterns. Additionally, it is also used to support respiratory health, boost libido, soothe premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and nourish skin and hair!
These uses, though fairly popular, are still labeled as “traditional”, since there is still not much research into the effects, properties, and benefits of this plant. But it’s hard not to feel better after getting a whiff of that sweet, iconic goodness!
Vanilla absolute can be used in a way similar to many of your favorite essential oils!
It can be diluted in a carrier oil and applied to your skin or added to various skin and hair treatments such as moisturizers, exfoliators, and even shampoos! It can be added to your bath for a fun spa-like feel. And it can be mixed into a homemade perfume or put into a diffuser like a regular essential oil and share its lovely smell with the whole room!
However, it is not recommended that vanilla absolute ever be ingested.
And, as ever, it is best to conduct a patch test on your skin with the diluted absolute before incorporating it into your daily wellness and home life.
Can you Blend Vanilla Absolute?
Yes! And although vanilla is a rich and complex scent all by itself—it can be a great addition to an essential oil blend! Its sweet scent mixes particularly well with citrus scents, such as orange, grapefruit, and lemon. But it also blends very well with ylang ylang, cinnamon, and ginger.
To learn more about blending, check our our blogpost: How to Use Blends Effectively
And keep and eye out on your iTOVi Scan Reports to see if you are compatible with the world’s favorite bean-sourced spice!