How much vanilla will kill a person?

How much vanilla will kill a person?

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I received a gift that is a jug of Pure Mexican Vanilla. Having never dealt with large quantities of vanilla, it made me curious as to what would happen if a person had too much vanilla.

I understand that the alcohol has a higher toxicity rate and is probably more fatal than the actual vanilla itself, but I'm curious as to what ratio of mass of pure vanilla to mass of the human would be considered fatal.

Also, what is the physiological effect of a vanilla overdose as it pertains to inhibiting critical bodily functions? That is -- specifically what about a vanilla overdose would cause fatality?

Vanillin is the chemical that gives vanilla its flavour and smell [1].

Vanillin is pharmacologically active, causing depressed blood pressure, increased respiratory rate & death due to cardiovascular collapse [3].

Non-Human Toxicity Values [4]

  • LD50 Rat oral 1580 mg/kg
  • LD50 Rat ip 1160 mg/kg
  • LD50 Rat sc 1500 mg/kg
  • LD50 Mouse ip 475 mg/kg
  • LD50 Guinea pig oral 1400 mg/kg
  • LD50 Guinea pig ip 1190 mg/kg
  • LD50 Rat oral 2.8 g/kg
  • LD50 Guinea pig oral 1.40 g/kg
  • LD50 Mouse ip 0.78 g/kg
  • LD50 Rat sc 1.8 g/kg
  • LD50 Dog iv 1.32 g/kg slow in fusion.


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Vanillin," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed June 26, 2014).

  2. PATTY F. A. 1963. Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Volume II Toxicity, page 1696 (referenced from TOXNET, Vanillin - Human Toxicity Excerpts)

  3. TOXNET. Vanillin

Out of interest, I've had a look around a bit and it seems like the most dangerous part of that bottle might be the alcohol.

According to the FDA…

The term unit of vanilla constituent means the total sapid and odorous principles extractable from one unit weight of vanilla beans, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, by an aqueous alcohol solution in which the content of ethyl alcohol by volume amounts to not less than 35 percent.

(Emphasis mine.)

(Edit 2) This is an explanation as to why I need such a specific information. I've been advised to do so by Revetahw to avoid a closure for being off-topic. I first abstained to write it as not to drown the question in too many information. You can skip to the next part if it does not interest you:

You're still reading? Then hang on, cause you will need to handwave quite a few things. My main character is a mutant in a near sci-fi future. Among other things, he possess the ability to absorb shock. His body dampen more efficiently kinetic energy and actively transform it in another kind of energy. He is more resistant than a human, but not bulletproof. Thus, he needs to wear a costume made from magically-genetically-modified-spider silk. Thing is, spider silk reacts badly to heat, and albeit the enhanced silk is designed to withstand more heat, it's highly unadvised to stay near a fire. He is going to fight crime and military groups who may eventually use grenades. I need to know if I'm going to kill my character outright or not. Plus, I like being thorough in the non-"it's magical, just read on" aspects.

The History of Vanilla

There’s a little waffling here: one source claims that actually it’s Democrats who prefer vanilla, while Republicans go for chocolate and a Baskin-Robbins poll found that there’s a substantial contingent in the Southwest that shuns both in favor of mint chocolate chip. On the other hand, the International Ice Cream Association, which should know, puts vanilla at the top of the charts as first choice of 29 percent of ice-cream eaters, feebly followed by chocolate (8.9 percent), butter pecan (5.3 percent), and strawberry (5.3 percent).

Given our passion for vanilla, it seems peculiar that “plain vanilla” is the going synonym for anything basic, bland, or blah. A plain-vanilla wardrobe lacks pizzazz plain-vanilla technologies lack bells and whistles plain-vanilla automobiles miss out on chrome, fins, and flashy hood ornaments and plain-vanilla music is the sort of soulless drone that afflicts us in elevators. The truth is, though, that plain vanilla is anything but dull.

Vanilla is a member of the orchid family, a sprawling conglomeration of some 25,000 different species. Vanilla is a native of South and Central America and the Caribbean and the first people to have cultivated it seem to have been the Totonacs of Mexico’s east coast. The Aztecs acquired vanilla when they conquered the Totonacs in the 15th Century the Spanish, in turn, got it when they conquered the Aztecs. One source claims that it was introduced to western Europe by Hernán Cortés-though at the time it was eclipsed by his other American imports, which included jaguars, opossums, an armadillo, and an entire team of ballplayers equipped with bouncing rubber balls.

The Aztecs drank their chocolatl with a dash of vanilla, and Europeans, once they got used to the stuff (one appalled Spaniard described chocolate as “a drink for pigs”), followed suit. Vanilla was thought of as nothing more than an additive for chocolate until the early 17th Century, when Hugh Morgan-a creative apothecary in the employ of Queen Elizabeth I-invented chocolate-free, all-vanilla-flavored sweetmeats. The Queen adored them. By the next century, the French were using vanilla to flavor ice cream-a treat discovered by Thomas Jefferson in the 1780s, when he lived in Paris as American Minister to France. He was so thrilled with it that he copied down a recipe, now preserved in the Library of Congress.

Vanilla came late to recipe books. According to food historian Waverley Root, the first known vanilla recipe appears in the 1805 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of CookeryHannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, which suggests adding “vanelas” to chocolate the first American recipe-for vanilla ice cream-is found in Mary Randolph’s The Virginia HousewifeMary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife (1824). By the latter half of the century, the demand for vanilla skyrocketed. Not only was it the established flavor of choice for ice cream, but it was an essential ingredient of soft drinks-among these Atlanta chemist John S. Pemberton’s Coca-Cola, which went on sale in 1886, impressively advertised as an “esteemed Brain tonic and Intellectual Beverage.”

The problem with vanilla is that it’s pricey. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world (after saffron) because its production is so labor-intensive. Vanilla grows as a clinging vine, reaching lengths of up to 300 feet, from which sprout pale greenish-yellow flowers, about four inches in diameter. These-in Mexico, vanilla’s native habitat-are pollinated by melipona bees and, occasionally, by hummingbirds. Each flower remains open for just 24 hours, after which, if not pollinated, it wilts, dies, and drops to the ground. Frankly, given its sexual proclivities and narrow window of opportunity, the very existence of vanilla seems like an evolutionary long shot.

If pollination is successful, a fruit develops in the form of a 6-to-10-inch-long pod, filled with thousands of minuscule black seeds (the appealing specks in good-quality vanilla ice cream). Transplants of vanilla to tropical and presumably vanilla-friendly regions around the globe, however-lacking the proper bees-remained determinedly podless until 1841, when Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old slave boy on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, figured out how to hand-pollinate the vanilla blooms using a stick and a flip of the thumb. The simple technique had far-reaching implications. Vanilla plantations sprang up across the globe, from Madagascar to India, Tahiti, and Indonesia. Today about 75 percent of the world’s vanilla comes from Madagascar and Réunion.

The vanilla beans-which at harvest look like string beans-are individually hand-picked as they become ripe, and then are subjected to a prolonged, multi-step curing process. The end result is the dessiccated, but aromatic, black pods sold by spice purveyors. The pokiness of the vanilla plant-it takes nine months for the pods to ripen-and the grueling nature of the harvesting and post-harvest preparation means that we, internationally, don’t produce much vanilla. Total worldwide production is about 2000 metric tons, which is a drop in the bucket when it comes to vanilla demand. The vast bulk-99 percent-of vanilla-flavored products on the market, from vanilla-flavored vodka to vanilla wafers and vanilla pudding, don’t actually contain vanilla.

Vanilla is a stunningly complex and subtle spice, containing at a guess somewhere between 250 and 500 different flavor and fragrance components. The most prominent of these is vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde) which-despite its ungainly chemical moniker-is relatively straightforward to synthesize. Vanillin can be made from petrochemicals from lignin, a by-product of the wood pulp and paper industry and from eugenol, a component of clove oil. It can even be produced from castoreum, a molasses-like secretion from the anal glands of beavers, though this, admittedly, is a minor source.

Synthetic vanillin is at least twenty-fold cheaper than real vanilla, which explains why it’s manufactured and sold to the tune of 20,000 metric tons per year. If you’re nibbling on something vanilla-flavored or sniffing something vanilla-scented, chances are that you’re enjoying synthetic vanillin, not natural vanilla.

This makes the recent “Campaign for Natural Vanilla” launched by the environmental organization Friends of the Earth (FOE) look downright dumb. What FOE is protesting is synbio vanillin, a product of the synthetic-biology industry. Synbio products are made by engineering artificial DNA sequences which are implanted in living cells such as algae or yeast. The cells are then grown up in large quantities in fermenters and the products that they manufacture are purified from the culture medium.

Yeast has been engineered in this fashion to make valencene and noolkatone, the chemicals responsible for the citrusy smells of oranges and grapefruit, used in perfumes and Ecover, a Belgian synthetic-biology company, uses a modified single-cell algae to produce a synbio version of palm kernel oil, used in soap. (A hope here is to protect the tropical rainforests from being felled in favor of palm trees.)

Synbio vanillin, claims a recent article in Mother Jones, “will compete directly with the premium-priced natural vanilla market now owned by farmers in places like Madagascar and Mexico.” Well, it won’t. It will compete with the substantial synthetic vanillin industry, the guys who are making vanillin from petrochemicals and wood pulp. And both techniques—synthetic biology and synthetic chemistry—are making exactly the same molecule: vanillin, a.k.a. 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde. There’s nothing wrong, weird, or dangerous about either synthetic vanillin or synbio vanillin. But to imply that the synbio version is somehow creepy—as opposed to the “old-fashioned” kind made out of coal tar—is just plain silly.

Neither vanillin, however, is real vanilla.

If you want real plain vanilla, you’ll need a vanilla bean.

This story is part of National Geographic’s special eight-month Future of Food series.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that vanilla is the only edible orchid. Vanilla is one of many edible orchid species.

Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring

Just in time for holiday cookie season, we’ve discovered that the vanilla flavoring in your baked goods and candy could come from the anal excretions of beavers.

Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as safe” additive, and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years, according to a 2007 study in the International Journal of Toxicology.

“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m like, ‘Get down there, and stick your nose near its bum.'”

“People think I’m nuts,” she added. “I tell them, ‘Oh, but it’s beavers it smells really good.'”

Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine.

The fragrant, brown slime is about the consistency of molasses, though not quite as thick, Crawford said.

While most anal secretions stink—due to odor-producing bacteria in the gut—this chemical compound is a product of the beaver’s unique diet of leaves and bark, Crawford added.

Instead of smelling icky, castoreum has a musky, vanilla scent, which is why food scientists like to incorporate it in recipes.

Cougars communicate through visual, olfactory (scent), and postural signals, and vocalizations such as low guttural growls, spitting, snarls, and hissing.

Cougar mothers growl or hiss when their nurseries are threatened. Nursing cubs emit high-pitched, birdlike chirps and mews. Cougars also purr when together. Older cubs and adults emit whistles. Other sounds include an “ouch” call, and a yowl.

The most spectacular sound is that of a cougar caterwaul, which is an eerie sound that can resemble a child crying, a woman screaming, or the screeching of someone in pain. Caterwaul sounds are made by females during mating season, especially when males are competing for the same receptive female.

Here's How Much Coffee It Would Take To Kill You

For many people, a good cup of coffee is one of the great pleasures of life. But too much of the stuff can kill you, as explained in a new ASAPScience video that spotlights the curious and sometimes dangerous effects that caffeine has on the human brain.

"It turns out that there is a lethal dose of caffeine," Mitchell Moffitt, co-creator of the ASAPScience YouTube series, says in the video, "which is somewhere around 150 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of your body."

That's a lot of joe. If you weigh 154 pounds, Moffitt explains, you would need to drink about 70 cups of coffee at once to fatally overdose. Although the number could vary depending on the kind of coffee you prefer and how it's made, that's one beverage binge that even the most compulsive java junkie would be hard-pressed to pull off.

"You wouldn't be able to physically fit that much in your stomach," Moffitt says. "You would also start experiencing mania and hallucinations before getting to this point."

Weekly Standings

  • Your WS is calculated every week during the Tuesday server patch.
  • The person with the most CP's for the week on your side will have a WS of 1. The next highest CP score will have a WS of 2. And so on.
  • Your CP score is relative to the other players on your server/side. The absolute number of CP's you gain in one week can be wildly different from those you get in another week, and yet you may still get the same WS.
  • Any player that does not earn at least 15 HK's in a week will not be included in the weekly standings, and therefore cannot gain Rank.
  • There is also "a cut-off calculated based on the number of Honorable Kills made by all characters of your faction this week. Those having less HK than this cut-off (but at least 15 HK) will not be included in the calculations this week, but their points for the week will be enough to at least attain or keep Rank 1." [1]
  • The HK cut-off was changed from 25 HK to 15 HK in or shortly after patch 1.10. (28-Mar-2006)

WS Pseudo-Code

Vanilla Bee Extinction

Vanilla is the 2nd most expensive spice on the planet, just behind saffron, and a very unique bee that is nearly extinct is behind the vanilla orchid's proliferation.

Almost every vanilla bean in the world is, sort of, a Mexican vanilla bean. Here's why.

The Totonacs of Veracruz Mexico are the first people in the world known to have cultivated vanilla beans. By the 1400's, the Aztecs had begun using vanilla beans to enhance the taste of chocolate.

When Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez discovered the spice, he brought a large supply back with him to Spain and introduced it to the King and Royal Court. It's popularity grew and vanilla bean plantations quickly began to spread across Europe, into Africa and Asia.

But here was the problem: The vanilla vines grew and the flowers bloomed, but no fruit (no vanilla beans) grew from them. Why? They forgot to bring the bees. But not any bee would work. It had to be the Melipona bee.

Eventually, the Spaniards figured out the problem and the process of hand pollination began. Even today, the vast majority of the world's vanilla beans are grown through hand pollination. In this video, you can see how hand pollination takes place, in vanilla plantations all around the world.

Vanilla beans have survived through centuries because of the melipona bee. It is (maybe was) the only bee on earth that was capable of pollinating a vanilla orchid. As a result, vanilla orchids that grow in the wild are also in danger of becoming extinct.

Vanilla Orchid flowers are hermaphroditic, meaning they contain both mail and female parts. Because of a plant tissue in each flower called the rostellum that covers the stem, the flower cannot self pollinate. In addition, the pollen on a vanilla orchid is highly inaccessible to most pollinating insects, so a typical honey bee cannot access vanilla orchid pollen. The Melipona bee had evolved in a way that allowed it to find the vanilla pollen and carry it to other vanilla flowers for fertilization.

Vanilla beans today are literally on life support. They would largely be non-existent without the help of human, hand pollination. With ongoing research that is taking place today, we hope to find a solution to vanilla bean cultivation that is self-sustaining and long-term.

In the meantime, vanilla beans will continue to be one of the most expensive and difficult spices to harvest in the world.

Rattlesnakes spend some time in dens, which they make in rocky crevices. Those in colder climates hibernate there for the winter. According to the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department, generation after generation of rattlesnake will use the same dens. The San Diego Zoo reported that they sometimes use the same den for more than 100 years. Upon leaving their dens, they like to sun themselves on rocks and other open places. Though they are not nocturnal, in the hot summer months they may be more active at night.

Despite their venom, rattlesnakes are no match for king snakes, which are fond of putting them on their dinner menus, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In addition to rattling and hissing, rattlesnakes exhibit other defensive behaviors. &ldquoThey may also coil their bodies and raise their heads high off the ground in a defensive posture,&rdquo said Viernum. &ldquoThis coiled position serves as a way to anchor the body if they body if they feel the need to strike with their raised head.

Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous, which means that eggs incubate inside the mother&rsquos body. Babies are born live, encased in a thin membrane that they puncture after being born. Ratters mate in the spring and summer, depending on the species, and, according to the Denver Zoo, males may engage in combat. Mothers can store sperm for months before fertilizing the eggs, and then they carry babies for about three months. They only give birth every two years, usually to about 10 baby rattlers. Mothers don&rsquot spend any time with their offspring, slithering off as soon as they are born.

The National Wildlife Federation reported that rattlesnakes typically live for 10 to 25 years.

Rattlesnakes&rsquo favorite foods are small rodents and lizards. They lie in wait until a victim comes along, and then strike at speeds of five-tenths of a second, according to the San Diego Zoo. Their venom paralyzes the prey, which they then swallow whole. According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology&rsquos Animal Diversity Web (ADW), timber rattlesnakes wait until the prey is dead before swallowing it. The digestive process can take several days, and rattlesnakes become sluggish and hide during this time. Adult rattlers eat about every two weeks.

Most people bitten by rattlesnakes have inadvertently stepped on them &mdash so watch where you&rsquore walking! Rattlesnake bites can be dangerous but are very rarely fatal to humans. With proper medical treatment, including antivenin, bites are usually not serious.

Their venom is extremely potent. &ldquoThe venom of most rattlesnake species is composed mainly of hemotoxins,&rdquo Viernum said. &ldquoSymptoms include temporary and/or permanent tissue and muscle damage, loss of an extremity depending on the location of the bite, internal bleeding, and extreme pain around the injection area.&rdquo

Some rattlesnake species have venom that contains neurotoxins. &ldquoMojave, tiger, and speckled rattlesnakes are examples of rattlesnakes where either the entire species or certain populations within the species produce neurotoxins,&rdquo said Viernum. She explained that neurotoxins act faster than hemotoxins and attack the nervous system. &ldquoSymptoms from a neurotoxic rattlesnake bite include problems with vision, difficulty swallowing and speaking, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and respiratory failure.&rdquo

Nevertheless, Viernum reinforced the idea that fatalities from rattlesnake bites are rare if treated in a timely manner.

According to DesertUSA, there is some evidence that rattlesnake venom is becoming more neurotoxic across the board, which may be an evolutionary strategy, as some rodents are evolving to be more resistant to hemotoxins.

How to get Bugs Out of my Garden

If bugs are in your home, it's possible that they're in your garden too. It's important to practice pest prevention in order to limit products on your garden, but we all know that these infestations can pop up overnight. Here are a few tips on how to get rid of them without purchasing expensive, unnecessary equipment or harmful pesticides.

Use Of Water

Water is life. It’s quite vital for crop growth as well as their survival, not to mention the good it does to humans. Well, water may also be a solution to your pest problem. Put water in your spraying pump and take time to walk slowly through your garden spraying water on the leaves. Do not forget the bottom sides of the leaves this act as the hiding place for the pest. On spraying the leaves, all pests fall to the ground, and this gives them the opportunity to “fight for their territory” obvious none survives. This keeps your garden safe from pests, and the birds may eat the little remaining ones.

Soapy Water

Soap is usually irritating. Imagine how it feels on getting into contact with your eye. Well, the case isn’t much different from what happens on coming into contact with pest’s skin. Add soap to the water in the spraying pump, and gently spray on the crops’ leaves. This doesn’t need to be much, to slide the pests out of the leaves only a little is needed to come into contact with the skin. The soap irritates the pests, peeling off their skin, and eventually, the pests die. Living your garden much safer. Hot pepper and garlic may also be an alternative.

Setting Traps

Slugs and other slimy pests also attack gardens, and they often attack in the night. They may prove a little hard to rid, but they also fall into traps. Keep an area free of plant litter or excessive mulch around your vegetable garden. As the night falls, lay boards on the ground to act as traps, slugs will be caught in the boards, and you can get rid of them in the morning. Sharp, dry surfaces e.g. diatomaceous earth may also act as good traps. On coming into contact with the surface, the soft bodies of the slimy pests is cut and eventually, the pest dies of dehydration.

Other Lawn Pests

Bugs are common in almost every garden. However, they can easily be got rid of through natural ways that will not prove harmful to human beings. The use of beneficial insects such as the ladybird, the praying mantis among others, serves as an effective way to get rid of bugs. Setting barriers and referents, act as walls that hinder contact between the pests and the garden. Also, allowing the crawling animals, some space may also act as good control measure. Moles, for instance, will only leave behind holes in the surface but will eat almost all pests that may be on your farm.


  1. Lawe

    Super Duper

  2. Ezeji

    The people in such cases say so - Perhaps we will be alive, perhaps we will die.

  3. Adonis

    Can you tell me where I can find more information on this issue?

  4. Melrone

    You have thought up such matchless answer?

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