encyclopedia

Anise Seed

Scientific Names:    

Pimpinella anisum L. [Fam. Apiaceae]    
     

Forms:    

Dried whole anise seed; anise seed oil extract    
     

Traditional Usage:     

– Amenorrhea
– Antimicrobial
– Antioxidant
– Bad Breath
– Breastfeeding Problems
– Breathing Problems
– Catarrh  (Mucous) of the throat
– Colic
– Coughs
– Cramps (stomach)
– Dyspepsia
– Eczema
– Eyesight Problems (externally)
– Flatulence
– Heartburn
– Indigestion
– Increasing Libido (in women)
– Increasing Milk (galactagogue)
– Sore Throat
– Tonsilitis
– Vascular Disorders     
     
    
Overview:    

The seed of anise, Pimpinella anisum L., [Fam. Apiaceae], is commonly used as a food and spice around the world, especially in India where it is recognized for its healing powers. The seed is often used as a licorice-flavored breath freshener and has been used in this way for thousands of years. Anise has many medicinal virtues and is listed in the German Commission E Monographs for alleviating digestive complaints and for dissolving phlegm and catarrh of the respiratory tract. Anise seed contains the compound creosol and up to 360ppm of alpha-pinene, compounds that help to loosen bronchial secretions. The German Pharmacopoeia also recognizes anise seed as a source of essential oils and bitters that can effectively treat mild stomach cramps, flatulence and colicky symptoms in the intestinal tract, especially for nursing babies and infants. The seed is recommended as a taste enhancer and can counteract the mild cramps accompanying the use of laxatives. Anise seed tea is often used by herbalists to soothe allergic eczema, prevent hormonal imbalances and to treat menstrual difficulties (Amenorrhea). The tea is also used to stimulate breast milk production and ease breastfeeding difficulties. It is said to increase libido in both men and women and is recommended to treat erection problems in men. The tea is also anti-microbial and antiseptic. Modern herbalists recommend anise seed for preventing vascular disease and note that the seed, as with other plants in the carrot family, contains 15 compounds that act much like calcium channel blockers. Dr. James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, states that vegetarians who eat lots of carrots may have lower levels of vascular disease partly due to these compounds, which are more highly concentrated in anise seed. The essential oil of anise seed also has strong antioxidant activity, superior to BHT + BHA.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Anise Seed contains: Approximately 1.5-5% essential oil comprising up to 80-90% of a sweet compound called trans-anethole chiefly responsible for the taste and smell. The oil also contains 1-2% isomeric methylchavicol (estragole), and less that 1% anisaldehyde, and some terpenoid hydrocarbons including alpha pinene. A characteristic component of the oil is up to 5% pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate. The seeds also contain a fixed oil, organic acids, flavonoids, tannins and polysaccharides.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

The daily dose of anise seed is 1-5g of the dried seed or 0.3% of the essential oil, or preparations taken correspondingly.  To prepare an infusion: Pour approximately 150ml of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoonfuls of crushed and powdered anise seed and after about 10 minutes pass through a tea strainer. Unless otherwise prescribed, a moderately warm cup of the freshly prepared infusion is drunk between meals two to four times a day. For infants and young children, the infusion may be used to dilute their milk.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

Aniseed is contraindicated in cases of allergy to aniseed and anethole.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

In rare cases, allergic reactions have been noted, of the skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.    
     
    
References:     
     
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 80-81; 96; 113; 168-169; 180; 232; 350; 492. Rodale Press.
 
Farag RS, el-Khawas KH. 1998. Influence of gamma-irradiation and microwaves on the
antioxidant property of some essential oils. Int J Food Sci Nutr 1998 Mar; 49(2): 109-15.
 
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Anisi fructus – Aniseed (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 73-75.