Vanilla Essential Oil
The benefits of Vanilla are mainly for the mood, as this scent is known to impart feelings of peace, comfort, and contentment, as well as being considered an aphrodisiac. Such associations are encapsulated in an old Totonac legend in which the daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess transforms herself into a plant to bring pleasure and happiness to a mortal beloved – of course, this plant was the Vanilla orchid.
Vanilla can have a wonderfully calming influence on the mind, largely due to the positive associations most people have with the scent. The smell of Vanilla tends to trigger happy memories – often from childhood – which can elevate the mood and promote a general sense of well-being. Often paired with notions of warmth, softness, and caring, Vanilla conveys a sense of purity and simplicity that many people find grounding. This helps to promote feelings of relaxation encourage quality sleep at night. At the same time, the rich and velvety sweetness of Vanilla possesses an almost palpable sense of luxury that many find to be sensual.
The general positive reaction to the scent of Vanilla is well-known; psychological researchers have been using it for decades in experiments that require a pleasant scent. More targeted studies have demonstrated reduced startle reflexes in both humans and animals when exposed to the scent of Vanilla, as well as soothing effects on newborns and infants in distress, supporting its reputation as a calming aromatic essence. These effects are primarily attributable to Vanillin, the main chemical constituent and aromatic underlier of Vanilla.
Vanillin has demonstrated many positive attributes in controlled laboratory studies involving both in vitro and in vivo models, including antioxidant, antimutagenic and analgesic activity. It has further been demonstrated to help improve states of depression in animal models. As vanillin is known to interact with adrenergic and opioid receptors – which are known to be involved in the experience of pain – this may lend support to the popular conception of Vanilla as a comforting essence.
Used in skincare, Vanilla oil is known for a rich concentration of antioxidants to promote a rejuvenated appearance. Vanilla is also known to be a mild essence with a soothing touch for the skin, further enhancing its associations with comfort and care.