Vanilla

What other names is Vanilla known by?

Bourbon Vanilla, Common Vanilla, Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla, Réunion Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, Tahiti Vanilla, Vainilla, Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla tahitensis, Vanille, Vanille Bourbon, Vanille de Bourbon, Vanille de Madagascar, Vanille du Mexique, Vanille de Tahiti, Vanillin.

What is Vanilla?

Vanilla is a plant. The bean (fruit) is commonly used to make flavoring, but it is also used to make medicine.

People take vanilla to treat intestinal gas and fever. They also use it to increase sexual desire (as an aphrodisiac).

In foods and beverages, vanilla is a well-known flavoring, but it is also added to foods to reduce the amount of sugar needed for sweetening. Some people add vanilla to food to help stop tooth decay.

In manufacturing, vanilla is used as a flavoring in syrups used in making medications. It is also used as a fragrance in perfumes.

Vanilla extract can be pricey. So lab-produced vanillin is often used as a substitute for vanilla. Sometimes vanilla extracts are diluted with less expensive extracts. Vanilla extracts from Mexico have been diluted with tonga bean extracts, but these contain a chemical called coumarin. Since 1954, the FDA has prohibited the use of coumarin in food.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vanilla for these uses.

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How does Vanilla work?

Vanilla contains chemicals that are high in flavor and fragrance, but it is not known how it works for medicinal uses.

Are there safety concerns?

Vanilla is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. However, there are some side effects. Skin contact can cause irritation and swelling (inflammation). It might also cause headache and sleep problems (insomnia), especially for people who manufacture vanilla extract.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vanilla is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when taken by mouth in food amounts. Larger medicinal amounts should be avoided until more is known.

Dosing considerations for Vanilla.

The appropriate dose of vanilla depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for vanilla. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011