By Katrina Scampini, Certified Aromatherapist
It’s hard to think of any other smell that can conjure up such pleasant memories. Maybe it transports you back to a simpler time when you were a little kid in Grandma’s kitchen, impatiently waiting for those delicious cookies. Or maybe it strikes you as a more sensual scent that’s perfect for a romantic night out with your partner.
No matter where you fall on that pretty wide spectrum, most of us can agree that vanilla has a totally unique, distinct, and delicious aroma. It’s definitely worthwhile to take a closer look at this famous crop, how it gets bottled up, and some great ways to bring it into your life.
So where does vanilla come from? Well, the vanilla plant is a climbing vine with lovely greenish-yellow orchid flowers. One blossom produces one bean, or seed pod, which is where we get the oleoresin from. For this to even happen, the blossom must be pollinated when it opens, which is only once and for a mere few hours.
Vanilla is clearly a very labor-intensive crop. It takes about 3 to 4 years from the time vanilla is planted until it can be harvested. Then, it takes an additional 3 to 6 months to cure the beans. There are only approximately 3,000 tons of vanilla produced each year, which mainly comes from vanilla fields in Madagascar [1, 2].
You may think “wow, 3,000 tons sounds like a lot”. But when you stop to consider how many beauty products, perfumes, cooking and baking recipes, and supplements include vanilla, you’ll see that this amount just is not a lot for the world to share. So if you are lucky enough to have a bottle of Vanilla Oleoresin, treat it lovingly! Not everyone gets to enjoy it.
Plant Therapy offers Vanilla Oleoresin. Why not Vanilla Essential Oil? Because that doesn’t exist. There are vanilla extracts, oleoresins, absolutes, infusions, and fragrance oils, but no pure vanilla essential oil. Unlike many of the other aromatic plants and fruits we enjoy, like lavender, peppermint, and lemon, vanilla beans do not release their aromatic molecules when steam distilled or cold pressed.
The dark, viscous liquid of Vanilla Oleoresin is produced using solvent extraction and offers that wonderfully warm and welcoming aroma so many of us have come to know and love. Now, let’s take a look at how to get the most out of your bottle!
Great for some much-deserved R & R!
When you want to settle your body and mind down before going to bed, Vanilla Oleoresin is the perfect nightstand companion! Its rich, warm aroma is incredibly relaxing and can help out when you’re feeling too much nervous tension or agitation to find peace in your bed . It’s also a great choice for passive diffusion. Simply a drop on a cotton ball and placing it near your pillow.
Or, try our Bath Bomb recipe for a wonderfully relaxing bath experience to help you wind down after a long day.
Great to help feel calm and collected!
Sometimes we all could use a few moments to relax, gather our thoughts, find our smiles and go back to making the most out of our day. Vanilla Oleoresin has been found to encourage positive feelings while also helping to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety .
Try diffusing 2 drops of Vanilla Oleoresin, 2 drops of Sweet Orange, and 1 drop of Neroli to help relax your mind when stress is starting to take too much control. This would also make a fantastic blend for a personal aromatherapy inhaler.
Vanilla Oleoresin has been known to clog diffusers, though this does not typically apply to ultrasonic diffusers. However, to err on the side of caution, make sure to clean away the Vanilla after use! Please do not to let it sit in the diffuser.
Vanilla is wonderful to blend with other oils, due to its ability to soften and round out aromas. Try experimenting with citrusy, spicy, or woody aromas to find what combination you like best!
Perfect to help set the mood.
The scent of Vanilla is a great way to set the scene for romance! It can help heighten the senses while calming the mind, helping you and your partner enjoy more intimate moments.
Try your hand at infusing one of your favorite carrier oils with some Vanilla Oleoresin for a romantic and sweetly scented massage oil. To do this, simply add a few drops to your chosen carrier oil and let it sit for a week or two. Then, decant the oleoresin and enjoy your lightly infused carrier oil!
You and your partner might not be able to take that tropical vacation of your dreams, but hopefully, this blend will help evoke that feeling of relaxation and romance!
Soothing on stomach discomfort.
It seems like vanilla might be something that gives you a stomach ache, not one that helps you get over one! But actually, inhaling Vanilla Oleoresin or applying it topically can help a temperamental tummy find some comfort.
This is actually another great reason to try your hand at infusing one of your favorite carrier oils with some Vanilla Oleoresin. Or, use in your aromatherapy inhaler and sniff away whenever your digestive system needs a little support.
Do you love Vanilla and want to learn more? Read Vibrant Vanilla for more ideas on ways to use it, plus some pretty interesting history on this famous crop! And don’t forget to head over to our Safe Essential Oil Recipes Facebook group for even more recipes, ideas, and inspiration!
 CBSnews. (2017). Vanilla Bean Shortage in Madagascar drives up prices in the U.S. CBS This Morning. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vanilla-bean-shortage-madagascar-drives-up-us-prices/
 Fieldhouse, Crystal, Ecology Skincare. ( 2017). What the Worldwide Vanilla Shortage means for Ecology Skincare. https://ecologyskincare.com/worldwide-vanilla-shortage-means-ecology-skincare/
. Harding, J. (2008). The Essential Oils Handbook: All the Oils You Will Ever Need for Health, Vitality and Well-Being. Watkins Publishing. Pgs. 628-629