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Terpene Profile: Vanillin

Vanilla smells and flavors are among the most popular in the world. Historical and anecdotal evidence prove that vanilla ice-cream, for example, is by far the most preferred and versatile flavor on the planet. Vanilla was introduced to the European continent during the 16th century when Spanish Conquistadors brought this treasure back from the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan, where it was served with chocolate as a favorite drink. 1

The flavor so valued comes from an organic compound, a phenolic aldehyde, called Vanillin. This sweet and pleasant-smelling substance is the primary extract taken from the vanilla pods and beans to create a special ingredient found in cosmetics, aromatherapy, and recipes of all kinds.

Classification within Organic Compounds: phenolic aldehyde

Natural Sources

- Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia)


Essential Oils Treatments with Vanillin

There are many compounds found in essential oils and a lot of them are shared from plant to plant such as limonene, pinene, and beta-caryophyllene, but vanillin is only found in the Vanilla plant (Vanilla Planifolia).

Benefits of this Organic Compound

Antioxidant Protection

Many of the health conditions we face today from poor immunity and disease are caused by oxidation. Oxidation causes many direct and indirect conditions due to the presence and effect of oxidizers throughout the body. Better known as Free Radicals, Oxidizers can seriously damage the cells of the body and even subject their DNA structures to alterations making them susceptible to degeneration and cancer. 2 Other symptoms of oxidation include a gradual loss of hearing, macular degeneration, loss of cognitive function and more. As the body works to dispel and repair the damage caused by free radicals, defenses against sickness and infection are greatly reduced.

Vanillin has high antioxidant properties that fight free radicals and reduces the threat of oxidation in the body. Vanilla essential oils can be applied aromatically as well as topically in an ointment to fight free radicals and protect the body. It can even help to repair some of the damage caused. 3


The aromatic properties found in vanillin have made it a prime ingredient in sensual perfumes, body ointments, and massage lotions. Vanillin’s sensually exciting fragrance has been found an effective relief to conditions of frigidity, impotence and sexual dysfunction between normally happy couples. As an aromatic presence in the home or bedroom, vanillin has a decidedly seductive overtone that engages hormonal reactions and promotes arousal. Don’t forget this special ingredient when crafting your personal essential oils perfumes.


Vanillin may be the compound that makes vanilla essential oils such as an effective febrifuge, a substance that works to control fevers. In addition to the presence of eugenol, scientists suggest it may be the vanillin in vanilla that actively fights infections while reducing inflammation and the effects of fever. Next time you feel the effects of fever getting you down, consider diffusing a small amount in your room or applying some to the skin with a carrier ointment. 4

NOTE: those suffering from migraine headaches can find the powerful smells of vanillin aggravates their discomfort. Always use your essential oils with caution.

Relieves Mood Swings

Vanillin as an essential oil has great benefits as a mood lifter and stress reliever. It is hard to hang on to depression, anger or hostility when you have intentionally diffused a few drops of vanilla essential oils in your room or office. 5 The smell is powerful and uplifting so you won’t have to worry about fighting off drowsiness. While this effect is noticed even in artificial vanilla-scented air fresheners, the effects of true vanillin are far more powerful. They can even be applied to settling down a bunch of rambunctious toddlers or a soothing a gaggle of grumpy seniors.

Relaxing and Soothing

While the smell of vanillin is not known for rushing people to sleep, those suffering from sleep conditions due to stress anxiety, fears, a restless mind and other emotional confusion have gained control and achieved total relaxation through the effects of aromatherapy featuring vanilla essential oils. The anti-inflammatory effects soothe the air passages and stimulate the breathing, this provides more oxygen to the brain which improves brain function and stimulates greater relaxation.

Vanillin Infographic

Vanillin for Human Health

Anti-Mutagenic Properties

Carcinogens exist in great amounts throughout modern society. Some of them, like pesticides in foods, we are unwittingly exposed to, others, like the UV rays in sunlight, we just can’t avoid. Even certain molds and mildews can also induce DNA damage to the cells of the body and the topic of cellphone radiation is closely linked to studies on mutagenic activity and the threat of cancer. Nevertheless, the body can be protected from these affronts with an effective antimutagen called Vanillin.

As a Biological Antimutagenic vanillin has been studied and found to reduce the rate that body cells mutate. One study showed that the beneficial properties within vanillin affected 64 genes that caused stress and oxidative damage, DNA damage, irregular cell proliferation and apoptosis a form of cell death. 6


Researchers have found that vanillin is a natural inhibitor of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is a tool used by cancers to hijack the bodies formation of blood cells to spread cancer aggressively. These newly created blood cells feed the cancerous growths with nutrients and oxygen for growth. Vanillin works against this process in ways that science has only recently begun to understand. It all comes down to nitric oxide, a molecule that is very important to the growth of tumors because it supplies the oxygen. Vanillin stops the production of nitric oxide within the tumor essentially strangling it.

Additional Information on Vanillin

Just because a bottle is marked “vanilla aromatherapy” does not make it high in this beneficial compound. There are many synthetic alternatives to vanillin and even some natural options made from questionable sources. Be sure you purchase your vanilla essential oils from a reputable dealer who uses "vanilla beans" as their source materials.

The chemical formula for Vanillin: 7 C8H8O3

Molar mass: 152.15 g/mol%u22121

Appearance: White crystals

Melting point: 81 to 83 'C; 178 to 181 'F; 354 to 356 K

Boiling point: 285 'C (545 'F; 558 K)

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