anise

Pimpinella anisum

Description

Anise is a dainty, white-flowered annual that is indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean countries. Its liquorice flavour is well known to lovers of the alcoholic drinks ouzo, absinthe, pastis, pernod and sambuca. The spice was popular with the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it to sweeten breath, relieve gas and colic and help get rid of phlegm. Despite its similar name, anise is not related to star anise, which is another spice from a different plant family.

Parts used

The ripe, dried fruits and the essential oils that are distilled from them.

Constituents

Anise fruit yields up to five percent essential oil, which is fragrant and syrupy. Trans-anethole, a phyto-oestrogen, is the principal constituent. Other ingredients are estragole, anise ketone, anisaldehyde and anisic acid.

Medicinal uses

Modern research confirms anethole’s expectorant, antispasmodic and antimicrobial properties. The German Commission E approves Pimpinella anisum for cough and bronchitis, fevers and colds, common cold, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, dyspepsia and loss of appetite. The essential oil is also used to flavour toothpaste and is commonly included in cough remedies, such as Flora Force Herbal Cough Mix™

Anise is prescribed:

  • As an antispasmodic to treat colic, flatulence, digestive complaints and bloating.
  • To treat catarrh in the respiratory tract in cases of flu, colds, phlegmy coughs and bronchitis.
  • As a possible appetite stimulant.
  • May ease menstrual cramps.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Although side-effects are rarely observed, do not take anise if you are allergic to anethole. Not recommended during pregnancy.

Flora Force Products containing Anise

Domestic & culinary uses

Ground or whole anise seeds are used to flavour desserts and baked goods such as biscotti. The seeds are also often used in sausage making and are the basis for a number of alcoholic beverages such as ouzo, absinthe and sambuca.

Cultivation

An easy plant to cultivate (according to http://gardeningeden.co.za), anise will grow from seeds planted in situ in spring. Well-composted soil and full sun are necessary and the seedlings need protection from the wind. The plant can reach 65 cm in height. The seeds appear in late autumn.

Acknowledgements & credits

Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.

  1. Aniseed photo courtesy of gopalkiscan / Pixabay.com
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.