Vanilla extract has bee used as medicine for thousands of years - and for a variety of ails. It is well worth keeping a bottle in your family's medicine cabinet:
To Reduce Inflammation
Vanilla extract has long been used on teething babies' gums and for temporary relief from toothaches. Scientists today know it as a good inflammation reducer - which is why some people even rub vanilla extract onto joints to reduce pain.
To Reduce Stomach Problems
Europeans often use vanilla extract for morning sickness - though, of course, it shouldn't be guzzled (!) since there is a small amount of alcohol in it. Be sure to ask your doctor how much is safe to take - and explain how much alcohol is in your particular vanilla extract (it can vary; read the bottle label for an exact amount). You can also make your own vanilla extract without alcohol. Usually a small amount is added to water, tea, or coffee to reduce nausea and stomach pains.
To Give the Brain a Boost
Scientists known that smelling vanilla is reduces stress - and once stress is removed, we all think more clearly. (Don't want to go around sniffing a bottle of vanilla extract? I don't blame you. try putting a little in your coffee, instead.) There is also even some indication vanilla extract may help alleviate depression - and relax you enough that you can fall asleep naturally.
For Antioxidants Action
Vanilla contains "vanillin" and "vaniillic acid," which a number of studies (including a 2007 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry), found are mild antioxidants. That means they help remove damaging free radicals and toxins in the body known to lead to illness.
For Antibacterial Action
Vanillin is also antibacterial, which makes it helpful in treating acne and minor skin abrasions.
To Treat Headaches
The use of vanilla extract to treat headaches goes back to the times of the ancient Egyptians. Try adding 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to 8 ounces of water.
For Cold Sores
It may be that the alcohol in vanilla extract is the primary reason it heals cold sores so quickly. Or maybe it's the inflammation-reducing properties of the extract - or something else scientists don't yet understand. But if you apply vanilla extract to a cold sore as soon as you notice it's first tingling sensations, it will heal several days faster. (Cold sores normally last 7 to 10 days; vanilla extract heals cold sores in 4 to 5 days, in my experience.) Apply it with a Q-tip, and use it as often as the cold sore bothers you - or at least 3 times a day. Be sure to immediately dispose of the Q-tip in the garbage, since the virus that causes cold sores is easy to catch.
Real vs. Imitation Vanilla
For the medicine cabinet, use only real, pure vanilla extract, which is made with vanilla beans and alcohol. Imitation vanilla extract does not have the healing properties of real vanilla. (But it's mostly false that secretions from beavers are used in making imitation vanilla.)
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