Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a flowering herb which originated from Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean. It is an annual plant which grows to about half-a-meter high. It bears small hairy fruits with seeds which are used as a spice or flavoring.
This herb was already written in ancient Rome as a sleeping aid and breath deodorizer. In the American civil war, it was used as an early form of wound disinfectant when antibiotics are still non-existent. But it was most commonly used in traditional medicine as a ‘carminative’ or for reducing stomach pain and bloating. It could also help mothers produce milk.
There is actually another plant called star anise (Illicium verum) with a spicy flavor similar to anise. But this comes from a much larger tree native to eastern Asia.
The nutrients we get from eating Anise
Vitamin and Mineral Content of Anise
The online US nutritional database contains information about nutrients found in anise. These are presented in the table below along with the percentage of the Recommended Daily Allowance provided per serving size.
|Nutrient||Unit||100g||%RDA||1 tbsp = 6.7g||%RDA|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||15.9||20.65||1.07||1.39|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||50.02||20||3.35||1.34|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||14.6||48.67||1||0.4|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||21||23.33||1.4||1.56|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||16||1.78||1||0.11|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||3.15||16.58||0.211||1.11|
The above table shows that iron is the most significant nutrient present. More than four times the RDA is provided in a 100-gram serving size. But smaller serving sizes like a tablespoon is the more realistic amount which could be consumed. Thirty-one percent (31%) of the RDA could be obtained from this. Other nutrients which could be significantly obtained from a tablespoon serving size are calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. More than 4% of the RDA is contained in it. In addition, more than 3% of the RDA for zinc and vitamin B6 is present in the same serving size.
The Phytochemical Anethole
Aside from vitamins and minerals, anise contains a very significant phytochemical compound called anethole. Anethole is the phytochemical chiefly responsible for the fragrance and the medicinal property of the herb. This substance is also found in fennel, star anise and about 20 other plants and herbs. Anethole is utilized in industries producing food, drugs, and perfumes.
The chemical composition of essential extracts from anise seeds are approximately 90% anethole.
Scientific Studies on Anise
- A lab assessment of anise essential oil extracts showed promise against many species of disease-causing bacteria. Furthermore, the assessment demonstrated that anise enhanced the antibacterial action of other essential oils like that from thyme. The complementary action of both oils led to a more effective result.
- A clinical trial showed the effectiveness of anise in treating indigestion and upset stomach. Forty-seven human patients with stomach problems were given powdered anise seed. Compared to a control group, who were given a placebo, the target patients experienced significant relief from stomach symptoms.
- Breast cancer cells cultured in a laboratory were exposed to anethole. Observations were made of anethole being able to slow down the growth of the cancer cells. It even caused the early death of these cells. Anethole is a major phytochemical component of anise. This provides strong evidence for the herb’s potential in preventing and possibly curing the disease.
- A laboratory investigation into the anti-fungal activity of anise pointed to anethole as primarily responsible. It was able to kill off test colonies of the fungus even after being exposed to heat and prolonged storage.
- Lab rats were used in a study to observe the efficacy of anise against stomach ulcers. Solutions made from anise seed powder were given to a group while blanks were fed to another. Both groups were then fed by mouth with chemicals which could damage the stomach lining. Examination of both groups afterwards showed that the rats given anise had significantly fewer ulcers. Anise prevented the stomach from producing more stomach acids which would have further caused damage. Anise also stimulated the production of more mucus from the stomach walls. The mucus served to further protect the stomach from more damage.
- Various extracts of anise seed were evaluated for efficacy as muscle relaxants in the respiratory passageways. This lab study was done on guinea pigs. Anise extracts were produced using an alcohol, a water-base solution, and an essential oil. The results were compared with that from a group on which theophylline, an anti-asthma drug, was used. The results demonstrated that the essential oil extract was slightly less effective than theophylline. But there was no significant difference between theophylline and the water and alcohol-based extracts. The results provide a strong basis for the potential of anise in treating difficulty in breathing due to allergies and inflammation of the respiratory tract.
- Another lab assessment on rats provided further evidence for the muscle-relaxing benefits of anise. Alcohol-based extracts were evaluated against chemicals which could cause muscle contractions and spasms. The results justified the use of anise in traditional health care to reduce muscle spasms and pain.
- Ten herbal plants, including anise, were assessed for effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes. Anise essential oil was found to be very effective, killing both the larvae and eggs and repelling adults. This could part of the potential use of anise against disease-carrying insects and parasites.
- Researchers are discovering that anise may play a role in fighting diabetes. In one such study, diabetes was caused among lab rats made using a chemical drug. Rats who were given anethole, the major phytochemical in anise, resulted in very significant decreases in blood sugar. Their insulin levels also increased. Insulin is a very important hormone needed to regulate sugar in the blood and prevent diabetes. Their liver function also demonstrated a remarkable recovery.
The Health Benefits of Anise
The health benefits of anise have been known from traditional health practices. This knowledge is now being slowly proven through laboratory studies and clinical trials on human patients. These verify the herb’s health-supporting properties:
- Antibacterial and antifungal effects
- Muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant effects
- Reducing stomach ulcers
- Preventing nausea and motion sickness
- Prevent constipation and bloating
- Ease pain and swelling
- Help with menstrual and menopause problems
- Insecticidal and pesticidal properties
- Anti-diabetic properties
- Potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits
Recipes using Anise
The recipes shown here would help parents provide home-made cures to common ailments affecting their kids.
Anise seed extract for Disinfecting wounds
This very simple to make extract can be applied on wounds as a general disinfectant after washing with soap.
2 teaspoons Anise seeds
120 mL vodka or gin
- Use a clean, clear glass jar with a resealable lid. Put the anise seeds and pour the alcohol. Seal the jar.
- Store in a cool, dark place. Shake every day for the first 2-3 weeks at least. Leave for at 2-3 months. Six months for best results.
- When ready, filter out the seeds with a clean cloth and pour into smaller bottles or vials for storage in cool, dark areas to prolong the shelf life.
- For applying on wounds, use a dropper or soak onto gauze pads and use to disinfect affected areas.
Anise shampoo for head lice
This is a natural alternative to commercial or drug shampoos for removing head lice in children. This is based mostly from an online recipe with added ingredients effective against lice. The anethone in anise can get rid of adult and young lice while the apple cider vinegar can dissolve the eggs.
¼ cup coconut milk (homemade or canned)
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
20-30 drops anise essential oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
¼ cup distilled water
- Just combine all ingredients. Use an old shampoo container bottle or pump soap dispensers. If you use a foaming dispenser, add 1/4 cup of distilled water.
- Shake the mixture in the container well.
- Shake well before each use. Use about a teaspoon. Lather into hair and scalp. Leave on for at least several minutes before rinsing.
- Repeat every day for at least 2-3 weeks. Do not forget to also change and clean the beddings and bed used by the kids to prevent reinfestation.
- Keep shampoo in the shower for up to a couple of months. Then dispose and make a new batch if needed.
- Store in a cool dry, dry place when not in use.
Anise seed essential oil for colic, chest congestion, and insect repellant.
Oil extracts are less concentrated than alcohol-based formulations. But these are gentler and safer for kids. These could also be given orally. Its muscle-relaxing and pain-relieving abilities make anise essential oil useful for massaging onto gassy and achy stomachs. For chest pains or difficulty in breathing, massaging the chest and back helps to ease the suffering. The anethone in the essential oil can also repel mosquitoes and other bugs.
2-3 teaspoons Dried anise seeds
20 mL Carrier oil (e.g. almond, olive oil
- Use the mortar and pestle to grind the dried seeds into coarse powder. This will release the anise oil and scent of anise.
- Put the ground anise oil into the glass container. Pour the carrier oil into the container until the anise oil is completely submerged.
- Seal the container. Exposed it to gentle heat like mild rays of the sun for the first few days. But not too much heat, just to help release the oil from the crushed seeds. Then store and let it stay in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks to continue the adsorption of the oil essence.
- After about a month, use a cheesecloth to filter out the anise seeds. Once done, pour into smaller sealable darkened bottles or vials. Store in a cool and dark place.
- For use as an insect repellent, rub some on exposed parts of the body. For bouts of stomach ache and flatulence, rub on the stomach and lightly massage. For constipation, give less than a teaspoon to children. For asthma and other cases of difficulty of breathing, rub and lightly massage on back and chest
Why should I grow Anise?
When raising children, tummy aches and clogged noses from colds and asthma are usually encountered by parents. Anise offers another alternative to pharmacy drugs for common ailments.. The leaves also have a pungent aroma to spice up our food. So this herb is another option to use for our nutritious salads.
Science is still establishing indisputable facts whether anise really helps to fight cancer and diabetes. But partaking of the leaves or seeds as a daily supplement can already give you such benefits.
How to hydro grow Anise
Put Anise seeds in a seedling planter indoor or outdoor at springtime. They will sprout in two weeks in warm conditions. Keep them in the seedling planters for an additional three weeks so they mature enough to be transplanted.
Put the plants in the condo-farm planter and place it in full sun.
Cut fresh leaves for your salads from the top buds.
Immediately check the impact of Anise on your body
Growing anise until it is matured enough to be eaten can take two months. If you want to test the impact of anise on your body, you can order the following products from iHerb, and get them in about a week. Then you can make an educated decision whether you want to grow anie or not.
Organic Whole Star Anise
Anise Seed Whole, Organic
Star Anise, Whole
Essential Oils, Star Anise
Anethole and Its Role in Chronic Diseases
Ana Clara Aprotosoaie, Irina-Iuliana Costache, Anca Miro
Drug Discovery from Mother Nature. 2016. 929:247-267
Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents of Pimpinella anisum.
Asie Shojaii and Mehri Abdollahi Fard
ISRN Pharmaceutics 2012, Article ID 510795, 8 pages
Synergistic antibacterial activity between Thymus vulgaris and Pimpinella anisum essential oils and methanol extracts.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;116(3):403-6.
Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial.
S.Ashraffodin Ghoshegir et al.
J.Res. Med. Sci. 2015 Jan; 20(1): 13–21
Aqueous suspension of anise “Pimpinella anisum” protects rats against chemically induced gastric ulcers.
Ibrahim A Al Mofleh et al.
World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb 21; 13(7): 1112–1118.
J Res Med Sci. 2015 Jan; 20(1): 13–21.
Anethole suppressed cell survival and induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells independent of estrogen receptor status.
Ching Hui Chen, Linda A.de Graffenried
Phytomedicine Volume 19, Issues 8–9, 15 June 2012, Pages 763-767
Antifungal Substance in the Essential Oil of Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.)
H.S.Shukla and S.C.Tripathi
Agric. Bioi. Chern.1987. 51(7):1991-1993
Relaxant effect of Pimpinella anisum on isolated guinea pig tracheal chains and its possible mechanism(s).
Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 74, Issue 1, January 2001, pages 83-88
Antispasmodic and relaxant effects of the hidroalcoholic extract of Pimpinella anisum (Apiaceae) on rat anococcygeus smooth muscle.
Carlos R.Tirapellia et al.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology. volume 110, Issue 1, 1 March 2007, pages 23-29
Insecticidal, repellent and oviposition-deterrent activity of selected essential oils against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus.
VeenaPrajapati A.K., TripathiK.K.Aggarwal, S.P.S.Khanuja
Bioresource Technology Volume 96, Issue 16, November 2005, Pages 1749-1757
Trans-anethole, a terpenoid ameliorates hyperglycemia by regulatingkey enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, Leelavinothan Pari, Ayyasamy Rathinam,Ramasamy Chandramohan
Biochimie. 2015 May;112:57-65.