Vanilla is a flavor derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla (V. planifolia). The word vanilla, derived from the diminutive of the Spanish word vaina (vaina itself meaning sheath or pod), translates simply as “little pod”. Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people cultivated the vine of the vanilla orchid, called tlilxochitl by the Aztecs. Spanish conquistador Hern0n Cortis is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s.Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor. As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture and aromatherapy.
The orchid is a potentially massive vine but in home cultivation the plant will likely only grow a fraction of its potential.
- The plant still needs special conditions to thrive. Provide temperatures of 86 F. (30 C.) in the day and 50 (10 C.) at night.
- Growing vanilla orchid in a hot house is ideal but you need to add extra humidity and air circulation.
- The home bathroom is a good place for humidity and heat as long as you have a fan for air circulation.
- Medium lighting to partially shaded areas provided the best situation for vanilla orchid care.
Vanilla orchid care does require vigilance for spider mites and mealybugs.
- The orchid’s high moisture needs open it up to become a victim of root rot, so the plant should be repotted annually and have its roots examined.
Increased libido: Since ancient times, vanilla has been regarded an aphrodisiac. However, ongoing aromatherapy studies suggest that vanilla may increase sexual desire by boosting testosterone levels in men.
- Skin disorders: Antibacterial properties of vanillin help cleanse skin problems such as pimples and acne. Moreover, antioxidant properties of vanilla help fight the damage caused by free radicals. It may even help slow signs of aging. The cosmetic industry uses vanilla both for its fragrance as well as anti-aging properties.
- Burns: Traditionally, home remedies to heal burns, cuts, and wounds have used vanilla. However, it is perhaps unsafe to use concentrated vanilla extract or essential oil on recent burns. Topical treatments containing vanilla may prove beneficial; however, talk to your doctor before you try any home remedies or natural treatment for burns.
- Coughing: Cough syrups often use vanilla flavoring to mask bitter tastes. Although there is little evidence to prove the effect of vanilla extract on coughing, the mild anesthetic properties may relieve symptoms such as pain from a sore throat or headache.
- Toothache: Vanillin found in vanilla falls under the same category of vanilloids that include capsaicin from chilli peppers and eugenols from spices such as cinnamon. Both these active compounds have an effect on the central nervous system. Capsaicin acts as a pain reliever, while eugenols work effectively as topical anesthetics. These mirroring properties in vanilla may help you fight a toothache and infection.