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A Little Vanilla May Prevent or Reduce Psoriasis

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla flavor is not only delicious, but may actually offer health benefits as well.


Vanilla is derived from the orchids of the Vanilla genus, which bears fruits that are shaped like pods. These pods contain unique organic compounds and antioxidants that are good for health.

The active ingredient within the flavoring is called “vanillin”. For centuries, vanilla in numerous forms has been used to soothe inflammation throughout the body. Researchers now believe that vanillin could be used to prevent or reduce inflammation from a skin condition known as psoriasis.

Psoriasis affects about 125 million people worldwide. It presents as scaly red plaques that typically show up on the elbows, knees or scalp. Certain components of the immune system, such as interleukins IL-17 and IL-23, are known to be key players in the development of the condition.

Researchers Chien-Yun Hsiang and Tin-Yun Ho tested vanillin on mice who were induced to have a psoriatic skin inflammation. They were given several varying doses of vanillin for seven days. Those receiving the higher doses of the compound showed the most benefits of reduced psoriasis symptoms, but all of the participants showed some benefit when their IL-17 and IL-23 levels were tested.

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Vanilla pods can be expensive due to the time-sensitive hand-picking process that must occur to catch the pods at their most ripe. Vanilla is also available in extracts and powders and as an additive to foods.

In addition to potentially decreasing inflammation, vanilla may also be beneficial for other health conditions as well.

Some research suggests that vanillin is also beneficial for reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Due to its antioxidant content, it may help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues and help stimulate regrowth. It is also antibacterial and can protect the immune system.

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Journal Reference:
Hui-Man Cheng, Feng-Yuan Chen, Chia-Cheng Li, Hsin-Yi Lo, Yi-Fang Liao, Tin-Yun Ho, Chien-Yun Hsiang. Oral Administration of Vanillin Improves Imiquimod-Induced Psoriatic Skin Inflammation in Mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2017; 65 (47): 10233 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b04259

Additional References:
One Green Planet
Organic Facts