Food Use Vanilla pods and vanilla extract have long
been used for flavouring. Placing matured vanilla pods into other
ingredients, like sugar, is sufficient to impart the flavour. Various
recipes contain vanilla extract, and many chefs will only use the
The food industry uses synthetic vanillin
and ethyl vanillin as flavouring agents. Vanillin is an antioxidant
and also has antibacterial properties, so it helps to preserve food.
It is also reported that cattle fed with vanilla-flavoured feed
gain more weight because they eat more.
Non-food use It is used by the fragrance industry as a
component in items such as air fresheners, room sprays, candles,
incense cones, body lotions, shampoos, soaps and shower gels. Ethyl
vanillin is often used because of its stronger aroma.
Vanilla is also used to improve the odour of paints and cleaning
Intermediate The development of cost-effective synthetic routes
has enabled its use as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of
several important drugs and other products.
Used to treat Parkinson's disease.
It is believed that a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine
is responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Dopamine
cannot be given directly as it cannot cross the barrier from bloodstream
to brain cells. L-Dopa can, and is an intermediate in the body's
synthesis of dopamine from the amino acid tyrosine.
For the treatment of high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Methyldopa acts on the nervous system and has the effect of relaxing
blood vessels, so reducing blood pressure. It may not address
the underlying cause, but reduces strain on the heart.
Has antibacterial properties and
is used to treat infections, particularly of the urinary tract.
Herbicides (vanillin hydrazones similar
Hydrazones of vanillin are found to be effective herbicides,
with similar properties to 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).
These are used, for example,
to limit frothing in lubricating oils.