Anise: Benefits, Side Effects, and Preparations

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Anise is a plant ( Pimpinella anisum ) that has long been used as a medicine. Anise seeds, anise oil, and less commonly the root and leaf are used to make medications to treat digestive and other problems. According to some sources, anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 BC. C.

Anise is also commonly used to flavor foods, beverages, sweets, and breath fresheners, and as a flavoring agent in soaps, creams, perfumes, and sachets. You may be familiar with its licorice taste and smell.

Also know as

Anise is known by several different names, including:

  • Anis Werth
  • Anise
  • Anisi fructus
  • Graine d’Anis vert

Anise is not the same as star anise, although the names sound almost the same.

What is anise used for?

Research on the health effects of anise is quite limited. Some of the chemicals in anise can have estrogen-like effects and affect the symptoms of the menstrual cycle and menopause.

Here are some takeaways on the possible health benefits of anise extract.

Menstrual pain

According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Women’s Health , a combination of anise extract, saffron, and celery seed can help relieve period pain.

For the study, 180 students (ages 18 to 27) were divided into three groups: one group received an anise / saffron / celery seed mix, one group received mefenamic acid (a type of anti-inflammatory drug), and one group received a placebo. Starting with the onset of menstrual bleeding or pain, each group took the prescribed treatment three times a day for three days.

After observing the participants for two to three menstrual cycles, the study authors found that those assigned to the anise / saffron / celery seed combination experienced significantly greater reductions in menstrual pain compared to those assigned to the other two treatments. .

Tides

In a study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research in 2012, researchers found that anise may help relieve hot flashes in menopausal women.

The study included 72 postmenopausal women, each of whom took anise extract or potato starch capsules daily for four weeks. Compared to the control group, those who received the anise extract experienced significantly greater reductions in the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

Digestive problems

Taking a combination of anise, fennel, elderberry , and senna can help relieve constipation, suggests a small study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2010.

In a clinical trial involving 20 patients with chronic constipation who were treated for five days, researchers found that the combination of herbs containing anise was significantly more effective than placebo in increasing the number of bowel movements per day. The authors noted that the combination of herbs can help fight constipation by providing a laxative effect.

Other use

Anise is used in herbal medicine as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Diabetes
  • Gas
  • Insomnia
  • Neurological disorders (such as epilepsy)
  • Stomach ache

Anise is also believed to stimulate appetite, increase milk production in lactating women, promote menstruation, and increase libido.

When applied topically (that is, directly to the skin), anise extract is believed to help treat conditions such as lice and psoriasis.

However, there is not enough scientific evidence to know if anise can alleviate or help treat any of these conditions.

Possible side effects.

Anise is probably safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in food. There is insufficient evidence that anise is safe for medicinal purposes.

You may have an allergic reaction to anise if you are allergic to related plants such as asparagus, cumin, celery, coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel.

Pregnant and lactating women should avoid the use of medicinal anise because there is not enough scientific evidence to know if it is safe for them.

Anise can have estrogen-like effects, so there is some concern that the use of anise supplements could be potentially harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as hormone-dependent cancers (breast cancer, uterine cancer , ovarian cancer), endometriosis , etc. fibroids .

Anise can also interact with certain medications, including birth control pills, estrogen, and tamoxifen. Talk to your doctor before consuming anise if you are taking any medications.

Get Drug Information / Anastasia Tretyak

Selection, preparation and storage

You will find anise in almost any grocery store, usually in the spice aisle. Anise seeds are sold whole or ground. Many recipes from the Middle East, Italy, Germany, and India call for this.

Store anise like any other spice: in an airtight container, away from heat and light. Whole seeds are generally stored for three to four years. Ground anise seeds are generally stored for two to three years.

You can buy anise extract or anise oil for medicinal purposes at many health food and supplement stores and online.

Read the labels carefully. Derived from a completely different herb, star anise oil is also widely marketed and may be referred to as anise oil. To make sure you buy anise, look for a product that says Pimpinella anisum or anise seeds on the label. (Hint: If there’s a star-shaped brown fruit on the bottle label, it’s most likely derived from star anise.)

Also, keep in mind that supplements like anise are largely unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under government standards, it is illegal to sell dietary supplements as a treatment or medicine for a specific medical condition or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease.

But the FDA does not test these products for safety or effectiveness. In some cases, the product can deliver doses that differ from the amount indicated for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances.

Some consumers look for products certified by ConsumerLabs, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), or NSF International. These organizations do not guarantee that the product is safe or effective, but they do provide some level of quality assurance.

General business

Are Anise and Licorice Related?
Most describe the taste of anise as similar to black licorice, but licorice and anise do not come from the same plant. However, black licorice candies are traditionally seasoned with anise rather than licorice root , as some naturally assume.

Is anise just another word for fennel?
No, although you probably won’t have to look far to find a recipe or grocery store sign that uses the terms interchangeably. The confusion is not surprising. Anise and fennel have a similar taste and belong to the parsley family, but they come from different plants. While anise seeds are used for cooking, fennel seeds, leaves, and bulbs are edible.

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