Last Modified on Feb 27, 2014
Known as an aromatic spice, anise seed has a number of applications in the world of herbal medicine. From easing stomach pain to relieving cough and congestion, anise delivers a potent punch of infection-fighting benefits to the body. This warm, sweet spice is capable of treating a variety of conditions both internally and externally.
What is Anise Seed?
A perennial herbal plant, anise typically grows to about 2 feet in height. The plant bears white-colored flowers that typically bloom in July and are harvested by cutting the whole plant once the seeds have ripened. Following harvesting, the seeds are removed from the flower head using a specific threshing method. The seeds are generally oblong or curved in shape and light brown in color. Anise seed typically has a sweet, licorice-like scent and flavor.
An effective antioxidant, anise seed also possesses a number of other healthful benefits. The seeds contain a number of important compounds including anethole, estragol, anise alcohol, pinene and others. These substances make anise seed an effective antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, and anti-inflammatory.
Health Benefits of Anise Seed
Aside from its natural compounds, anise also possesses a number of other health benefits. The seeds of the anise plant possess a variety of essential vitamins including many of the B-complex such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. The seeds also contain minerals including calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. The spice also possesses a relatively potent amount of vitamins C and A, making it an effective antioxidant.
With its unique characteristics, anise seed has a number of medicinal applications. As an anti-inflammatory, anise is often used to treat breathing issues including asthma and bronchitis as well as digestive conditions including flatulence, bloating, stomach pain, nausea and indigestion. The compound is also known to have an estrogenic effect, so it is often prescribed to nursing mothers to stimulate the production of breast-milk.
A somewhat unusual spice with a unique and pungent flavor, anise seed also has a number of exceptional health applications. Its unique composition makes it an appropriate complement to a number of treatment plans and regimens.
10/31/2008: Lorraine from Charles Town, WV, USA: "Please add the following urls for Anise:
Some restrictive use comments:
Use only in moderation. Has been known to cause dermatitis. Can act as a narcotic and slow down circulation in large quantities, which can lead to cerebral disorders. Do not use while pregnant, nursing or without doctors knowledge if being treated for serious conditions such as cancer, pulminory disease, or blood pressure.
Also, PLEASE note that Star Anise (Illicium floridianum) and Anise are NOT the same plant. Some forms of Star Anise are toxic, such as Japaneese Star Anise (Illicium anisatum) whcih is known to contain sikimotoxin."
[YEA] 08/05/2009: Jen from Kailua-kona, Hawaii, Usa replies: "I'm a bit surprised to see a recommendation not to use anise when nursing - in many European countries anise has been used expressly by nursing mothers for hundreds of years, as it stimulates both the quality and quantity of the mother's milk production. Confections made with anise are traditionally eaten when celebrating the birth of a baby.
It is also used to aid digestion and diminish gas, and a cup of hot milk with some anise steeped in it is an old remedy for insomnia, as well as being very warming on those cold winter nights."
[YEA] 01/11/2008: Brigitte from Houston, Texas: "re: anise seed tincture for treatment of nonproductive coughs.
A nonproductive cough is another name for a dry cough which does nothing to move phlem from the throat and lumgs. This is often a precursor to a more serious ailment like pneumonia. It is of the utmost importance that you remove the excessive phlem from your system. I have found that the best expectorant that I can find is made by placing five tablespoons anise seeds into 1 cup of rum. I take no more than 2 teaspoons of this as needed to induce a cough which allows for the mucus to be removed from the body. A note to nursing mothers who have problems with milk production; a good side affect of anise is that it increases milk production in lactating mothers. I know this for a fact as my last child was born when I was 40 and I had problems producing milk sufficient to meet my child's needs. Be cognisant of the fact that you do not want to over do it with alcohol if you are nursing as this would be counter productive to the health and well being of the child who depends on you for nourishment. I used an anise tea when I was nursing it works well for increasing milk production."
[YEA] 07/20/2007: Kathryn Mars from New York, New York: "When I am feeling lethargic, I boil a chopped up ginger root with 4 sticks of cinnamon and a heaping tablespoon of anise seeds. Sweeten to taste. (You can also add lemon and cayenne pepper if you have cold symptoms). This gives me an instant lift in spirit."
[YEA] 05/07/2007: Joe from Arizona: "The other day I picked up some anise seed in the grocery store because it was inexpensive and I've been wanting to use in it cooking. Out of curiosity, I searched online for anise seed and came upon this website - (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art18307.asp).
According to this website, anise seed and oil have many holistic properties including curing coughs, hiccups, flatulence and being a decongestant, among other things. Since I frequent Earth Clinic, I wanted to see your take on anise seed, but noticed you don't even have it listed. Have you previously heard of the healing properties of anise seed?
I'm sure your site's readers would be interested in this possible remedy, I know I was."