Vanilla is a plant. The bean (fruit) is commonly used for flavoring, but it is also used to make medicine. Because vanilla extract can be expensive, lab-produced vanillin is usually used as a substitute for vanilla. Sometimes less expensive extracts, such as tonga bean extracts, are used to dilute vanilla extracts. Some of these extracts contain a chemical called coumarin, which is banned by the FDA.

People use vanilla for conditions such as intestinal gas, fever, tooth decay, to increase sexual desire (as an aphrodisiac), and to reduce anxiety, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. In foods and beverages, vanilla is a well-known flavoring. In manufacturing, vanilla is used as a flavoring in syrups for medications. It is also used as a fragrance in perfumes.
When taken by mouth: Vanilla is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. However, some people are allergic to vanilla. It might also cause headache and sleep problems (insomnia), especially for people who manufacture vanilla extract.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if vanilla is safe. Skin contact with vanilla can cause irritation and swelling (inflammation) in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vanilla is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when taken by mouth in food amounts. There isn't enough reliable information to know if vanilla is safe to use as a medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Fever.
  • Intestinal gas.
  • Wrinkled skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vanilla for these uses.

Dosing & administration

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.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Vanilla interacts with any medicines. Before taking Vanilla, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.


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