About our Vanilla
Riverleaf offers an unadulterated, undiluted, full-spectrum vanilla oil, grown organically and pesticide-free in the same mountains in Mexico from which Vanilla planifolia was originally cultivated. The vanilla beans are harvested and dried on the farm, then delivered to our state-of-the-art facility in Eugene, Oregon where we use a unique combination of CO2 and pressure to extract the essences of the vanilla and deliver them to you. Riverleaf Vanilla mixes with multiple carrier oils and can be used for perfumes, cosmetics, aromatherapy, or any other scented products. Vanilla is known to possess middle and base notes, and blooms as it permeates the air. The aroma can trigger strong emotional responses and relieve anxiety and stress.
Vanilla extracted using CO2 produces an aroma closer to that of the plant than that of an absolute, oleoresin or other form of distilled or pressed vanilla. Pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) is combined with the vanilla beans to act as a solvent; when the CO2 is forced into its supercritical state (using only pressure), the natural oils and fragrances are extracted from the plant matter. Our extraction machine even recycles the CO2 into the next batch for increased sustainability. CO2 extractions are free of chemical solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and other unwanted substances. This produces the purest possible vanilla oil.
There are many artificial vanillin flavors and fragrances on the market, but nothing compares to the real thing. The scent of vanilla can trigger powerful emotional responses through your limbic system. Due to the difficulty and rarity of growing vanilla, natural vanilla is one of the most sought after fragrance compounds in the world.
Found in cloves, cinnamon, Thai basil, and black pepper, beta-Caryophyllene gives the vanilla a subtle spiciness, and with the ability to light up our endocannabinoid system, acts in similar ways to cannabis. Our product won't "get you high," but it can bind to the same receptors in your brain as CBD does, leaving you feeling soothed and alleviated.
This monoterpene gives Riverleaf Vanilla soft lush forest notes. Along with Linalool (another monoterpene expressed in our vanilla), beta-Pinene is found in sage and rosemary, and other aromatic plants used around the world for homeopathic relief of depression and anxiety. Scientists have recently discovered that beta-Pinene may improve cognitive function for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Found in the peels of many citrus fruits, Limonene has been used in folk medicine and perfumery for thousands of years. It is still used in many modern pharmaceuticals because of its known ability to boost immune health, reduce inflammation, and promote weight loss. The tantalizing fruity and tangy aromas of Limonene uplift your mind and spirit, and can help you feel more awake and focused.
History of Mexican Vanilla
Vanilla planifolia is a species of orchid native to the tropical forests of southeastern Mexico and Central America. Vanilla was cultivated by the Maya and Aztec for generations and used as tribute, fragrance, cacao flavoring, and medicine before the rest of the world even caught a whiff. When the Spanish conquered the region in the 1500s, they sent their favorite fragrances and flavors back to Europe. For the following centuries, vanilla was so rare it was practically a myth, and might only be seen in the most well-stocked apothecaries for nobody outside Mesoamerica could successfully grow a fruiting vanilla orchid.
In the middle to late 18th century, the Totonac people of Veracruz became the first and only vanilla exporters in the world, and would stay that way for almost 100 years, due to the superb quality of the vanilla they produced and because they were the only people who knew how to properly cultivate the plant. The Vanilla planifolia orchids were pollinated by the local bees exclusively, leaving the rest of the world scratching their heads, until Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old slave on the island of Réunion, developed a method for hand-pollination in 1841.
The discovery of a hand-pollinating technique for growing vanilla was bittersweet; the remarkable achievement enabled the entire world to taste and smell this remarkable spice, but only after thousands of people across Africa and India were exploited in order to produce it. In the 21st century, many of the largest vanilla farms in Africa and India are owned by just a few mega-corporations in Europe, leaving Mexico as one of the few regions where vanilla is still cultivated organically, with pride and care. Riverleaf Essences ethically sources all of their vanilla beans from family-owned farms in the same mountains from which Vanilla planifolia was originally cultivated thousands of years ago.