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So you thought the humble vanilla extract could only be used in cakes and desserts? Well, we have news for you. While the aroma of this beautiful rich brown ingredient is enough to attract you to the foods it has been used in, it can also be used in other interesting ways.
So the next time you skim through a bakery café menu, and decide to tuck into a vanilla-laden dessert, you need not feel guilty. After all, you’re doing it for your health, right?
Let’s have a look at some unconventional or lesser known uses and health benefits of vanilla extract.
Curbs Hunger Pangs
If you’re trying to lose weight and have put yourself on a diet, you’re bound to experience hunger pangs and cravings for certain kinds of junk food every now and then. How do you fight those? With pure vanilla extract!
Take a whiff of it and you may just feel less tempted to dig into your meals. That’s because the rich sweet smell of the extract may trick your mind into feeling satisfied, which means you eat less.
Scents up Your Home
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How many times have you found yourself resorting to chemical-laden deodorizers to ward off household stenches? There’s a more natural and sweeter way to do so. Make your own nontoxic deodorizer by adding a few drops of vanilla essential oil to two cups of water and make a solution. Pour into a spray bottle and use it as and when you like to make your home smell like baked goods.
Stuck with a nasty fish-y stink in your microwave? Bust it by pouring a little vanilla extract into a bowl and microwave on ‘High’ for a minute. And voila, stink gone!
Want to paint your home, but afraid you wouldn’t be able to tolerate the smell of fresh paint? Make your home smell delish by mixing a few drops of vanilla extract into the paint can as soon as you open it.
Can’t stand the odor your fridge emits (even after cleaning it out) every time you open its door? Simply pour a few drops of vanilla extract on a soft clean cloth and wipe the interiors with it. For prolonged fragrance, soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract and leave it in your refrigerator.
Soothes Your Skin
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Did you know that vanilla extract is rich in antioxidants, which makes it great for your overall health and skin? It can actually protect it from environmental pollutants and toxins. Try this face scrub and you’ll see the difference:
Open up 5 vanilla beans and remove the seeds. Add the juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoon brown sugar, and 3 drops of vanilla essential oil to these seeds. Mix them well and apply this scrub to your face. Massage for a few minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow it up splashing your face with cold water.
Repels Mosquitoes and Bugs
Who would have guessed the sweet smell of vanilla could repel those annoying mosquitoes and bugs? And what a great way to annoy them for a change, without having to suffer the stinky smell of mosquito/bug sprays and creams!
For a natural pest-deterrent, simply mix a tablespoon of vanilla extract with a cup of water and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz it on exposed skin to ward of those irritating mosquitoes, flies and even ticks.
Aids Weight Loss
While eating healthy and exercising are the best ways to lose weight, you can also include vanilla essence in your diet for greater benefits. Although this claim still remains unproven and further research is needed to substantiate it, there’s no harm in giving it a try.
A few drops of vanilla extract mixed with a glass of water can work wonders in relieving feelings of nausea. Just sip it and let the scent work its way to calm your stomach.
Helps in Treating Digestive Problems
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Vanilla has been used to aid problems related to the digestive system since ancient times. Simply add it to your morning cup of herbal tea,or boil vanilla beans in water and drink it to ease your stomach ailments.
Soothes Sore Throat
Vanilla extract is often used in cough syrups to mask their pungent taste. It is believed (but not substantiated yet) that vanilla extract has mild anesthetic properties which can relieve a sore throat and headache.
Helps Regulate Menstruation
Vanilla extract helps in regulating an irregular menstrual cycle to a certain extent. Women with mild menstrual problems can benefit from making it a part of their diet.
Helps Fight Anxiety and Depression
Vanilla extract (and its scent in particular) can help those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. Adding it to water or milk and sipping that helps reduce anxiety in some people.
Vanilla is also beneficial for your nervous system. Research conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York indicated that vanilla aromatherapy is effective in easing the symptoms of claustrophobia.
Good for Healing Wounds
Vanilla extract was widely used in ancient times to heal wounds, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help calm and treat inflamed skin and is considered an effective home remedy even today. However, never use undiluted vanilla extract directly on a wound or a burn as that may make it worse.
Is an Aphrodisiac
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Bet you didn’t know this but vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac since centuries. Studies have suggested that the aroma of vanilla can boost testosterone levels in men leading to an increase in sexual desire and feelings of pleasure and gratification. It is also believed to cure impotency.
So now that you know that vanilla has much more to it that meets the eye (and the nose and tongue), do make it a point to invest in its extract. Do buy pure vanilla extract to avail the maximum benefit from it.