Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is not only a flavoring agent in foods but also a herbal remedy that may treat indigestion and constipation. It is better known for its sweet aromatic taste and has been used for treating many health ailments. Anise seed has several medicinal properties that help improve digestion, reduce menstrual pain, decrease depression symptoms, and relieve menstrual pain. In this article, we have discussed the health benefits of anise, its nutrition profile, recipes, and possible side effects. Read on.
In This Article
What Is Anise?
Anise is a flowering plant also known as aniseed, anis vert, and anix. It has been cultivated by Egyptians for around 4,000 years. Anise seeds taste like licorice and are used as a breath freshener. Anise is oblong in shape and is widely used to add flavor to food, liquor, and traditional medicine. Anise essential oil is another form of anise derived from the extraction or steam distillation of anise seeds. Also, anethole is the most important active component of anise that is responsible for its flavor and odor.
Here are the quick facts about anise.
Quick Facts About Anise
Scientific name: Pimpinella anisum
Origin: First cultivated in Egypt and the Middle East.
History: It was brought to Europe for its medicinal properties.
Active Component: Anethole
Properties: Anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory
Available in: Bright olive-green to gray-brown color
Anise is said to possess many medicinal properties that help in treating several health ailments. What are the health benefits of anise? Scroll down to know.
9 Impressive Health Benefits Of Anise
1. May Improve Digestion
Anise is said to possess carminative properties that are used to decrease bloating. In a study, 20 patients who received anise for 5-days had improved bowel function. It also could improve the number of evacuations per day and its laxative effect may help fight constipation. Anise has its prominence in traditional Persian medicine for the treatment of bowel disorders. A study conducted on 120 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that anise oil can improve symptoms like bloating, abdominal discomfort, constipation severity, difficulty in defecation, and diarrhea.
Anise has been used as a remedy for indigestion since ancient times. It can improve conditions like bloating, fullness, and early satiety. Also, aqueous suspension (water-based) of anise could reduce gastric ulcers in rats. It could inhibit gastric mucosal damage and reduce acid secretion through its anti-secretory and antioxidative properties.
2. May Reduce Menstrual Pain
Anise can effectively reduce menstrual pain in the case of primary dysmenorrhea (pain in the lower abdomen that occurs just before or during menstruation). A study conducted by the Shahid Beheshti Medical University, Iran, on 180 female students aged 18 to 27 with primary dysmenorrhea, found that the group who received 500 mg of the herbal drug (saffron, anise, and celery seed) 3 times a day for 3 days could find relief from menstrual pain. Anise has an antispasmodic property that relieves the involuntary contractions of muscles.
3. May Decrease Symptoms of Depression
Depression is estimated to affect more than 350 million individuals worldwide. Anise is said to possess antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects that help fight against depression. In one mice study, the alcoholic extract of anise showed effectiveness in treating depression. Also, anise oil is an effective remedy in relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Anise also may help treat postpartum depression (mood disorder that occurs after childbirth).
4. May Help Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Did you know that each year around 1.5 million women experience menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, and decreased libido? Anise can relieve the frequency and severity of hot flashes in post-menopausal women. In one study, each woman in the experimental group that took a capsule containing 330 mg of anise 3 times a day for 4 weeks noticed a reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Also, the essential oil of anise contains estrogenic agents like anethole that help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Such estrogenic activity may help in the management of bone density and prevent bone loss in post-menopausal women. However, more research is needed to understand this benefit of anise.
5. May Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Anise seeds contain 50 potential anti-diabetic compounds that help maintain blood sugar levels. Anethole is said to possess anti-diabetic properties and also helps in treating several chronic diseases. In one study conducted by Annamalai University, India, on diabetic rats, trans-anethole was found to have hypoglycemic activity and may help reduce high blood sugar levels by regulating the key enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism.
6. May Prevent Microbial And Fungal Growth
Anise fruit extract exhibits strong anti-fungal activities and acts against certain fungal species like Candida albicans, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, C. pseudotropicalis, and C. krusei. The anise essential oil is also effective against certain types of yeasts and dermatophytes that may lead to infections. The trans-anethole in anise oil exhibits anti-fungal properties. It can also be effective against multidrug-resistant toxigenic strain Vibrio cholerae O1 E1, which may lead to cholera.
7. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Anethole, the main constituent in anise, possesses anti-inflammatory properties. This active medicinal compound works against periodontists (PD), a chronic inflammatory disease. As per one animal study, fixed oil of anise may exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect that is as strong as indomethacin (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). However, more human studies are needed to further understand the anti-inflammatory effects of anise.
8. May Help Prevent Bad Breath
Bad breath or halitosis is caused by the presence of small food parts or excess bacteria left inside your mouth. Around 50% to 60% of the world population experiences bad breath. Anise can kill odor-causing bacteria in the oral cavity and act as a natural herbal remedy for bad breath.
9. May Help Treat Insomnia
In studies, the powder and concoction of anise in hot water were found to be effective in treating insomnia. Anise is an alternative natural remedy for patients with chronic insomnia. However, more research is warranted to further understand this benefit.
Anise is also thought to offer certain other benefits, while there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support them. We have listed them below.
Insufficient Evidence For:
- Treating asthma
- Reducing cancer risk
- Inducing weight loss
- Preventing cataracts
- Preventing early signs of aging
- Increasing milk secretion
- Reducing symptoms of male climacteric (male menopause)
What is the recommended dosage of anise? Scroll down to know.
What Is The Recommended Dosage Of Anise?
- For Functional Dyspepsia (FD): 3 grams after each meal (3 times/day)
- For Flatulence: Mix 30 grams of castor oil with 180 grams of anise extract, and rub the mixture on the stomach twice daily. You also may grind 5 grams of anise, 10 grams of fennel, and 10 grams of cumin and add them to a glass of water. Boil for 20 minutes. You can drink one cup of this mixture 30 minutes after a meal.
- For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): 3 capsules coated with anise oil per day for 4 weeks
In the following section, we discuss a couple of recipes with anise.
How To Use Anise?
1. Cinnamon Anise Tea
What Do You Need?
- Anise seeds – 2 teaspoons
- Water – 3 cups
- Sugar – ½ teaspoon
- Cinnamon sticks – 3
- Lemon juice – 1 ½ tablespoons
- Honey – 2 tablespoons
- Black tea bags – 2
1. Mix all ingredients, except the tea bags, in a small saucepan and boil the mixture.
2. Allow to simmer for three minutes.
3. Strain the mixture.
4. Pour the liquid in cups with one tea bag and allow to steep for 3 minutes.
2. Toasted Almond Anise Biscotti
What Do You Need?
- Almonds – 1 cup
- Eggs – 3
- Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
- Unbleached all-purpose flour – 2 ½ cups
- Cane sugar – 1 cup
- Anise extract – 1 teaspoon
- Almond extract – 1 teaspoon
- Kosher salt – ½ teaspoon
1. Toast almonds on medium heat until they turn golden brown and crush them with a mallet.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Mix crushed almonds, baking powder, all-purpose flour, and salt. Stir the mixture well.
4. Beat the eggs, sugar, almond extract, anise extract, and anise seeds on medium speed using a stand mixer for about 5 minutes.
5. Place this mixture onto the baking sheet and pat the dough into a 4 x 12-inch dome-shaped slab.
6. Bake for 50-60 minutes until it turns brown.
Anise is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. We will look at the nutrition profile of anise in the next section.
Anise Nutrition Facts
Anise seeds are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals useful for carrying out several metabolic actions. One tablespoon (6 grams) of anise contains (26):
- Calories: 21.9
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3.3 grams
- Dietary fiber: 0.9 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Calcium: 42 grams
- Iron: 2.4 grams
- Phosphorus: 28.6 grams
- Magnesium: 11.1 grams
- Potassium: 93.7 grams
This is the key nutrient breakdown of anise. But how do you select and store anise? Check out the following section.
How Do You Select And Store Anise Seeds?
You can easily find anise seeds in your local grocery store. But read the product labels carefully while selecting. Look for the scientific name of anise or its image on the product, as one may often confuse star anise for anise. When stored in the refrigerator, grounded anise seeds can last for two to three years and whole seeds can last for three to four years. Store the seeds away from light and heat.
Anise is generally considered safe. But does it have any adverse effects?
Possible Side Effects
Consumption of anise is generally considered safe for most people. However, those allergic to tree nuts should avoid taking anise seeds. There is limited scientific research available on the side effects of anise. Also, not enough is known about the safety of anise during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Stay safe and avoid intake.
Anise is considered an estrogenic agent and may increase the risk of breast cancer in women with hormone-sensitive conditions. As per another study, anise seed essential oil may interact with acetaminophen (a medication used to treat mild to moderate pain).
Anise has a rich nutrition profile with several medicinal properties. Anise seeds are said to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effects that help treat many health ailments. The seeds help fight indigestion, reduce menstrual pain and menopausal symptoms, and also regulate blood sugar levels. However, intake of anise may cause side effects in those allergic to tree nuts. While information on the side effects is limited, consult your doctor if you experience any emergency after consuming anise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are anise and licorice related?
No. Anise and licorice are not related. Both these plants are from different families. But anise has a flavor similar to that of black licorice.
Are anise and fennel the same?
No. Anise and fennel taste similar and are from the same parsley family, but they are different plants. Anise seeds are used as a flavoring agent in cooking, whereas fennel has edible parts like bulbs, leaves, and seeds.
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- Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum
- Efficacy and safety of enteric coated capsules of anise oil to treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: A double-blind
randomized clinical trial
- Aqueous suspension of anise “Pimpinella anisum” protects rats against chemically induced gastric ulcers
- The effect of an Iranian herbal drug on primary dysmenorrhea: a clinical controlled trial
- Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents of Pimpinella anisum
- Evaluation of antidepressant-like effects of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Pimpinella anisum fruit in mice
- Effectiveness of Anise Oil for Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management
- The Study on the Effects of Pimpinella anisum on Relief and Recurrence of Menopausal Hot Flashes
- Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents
- Estrogenic activity of isolated compounds and essential oils of Pimpinella species from Turkey evaluated using a recombinant yeast screen
- Osteoporosis management in post-menopausal women
- Evaluation of the Anti-Diabetic Activity of Some Common Herbs and Spices: Providing New Insights with Inverse Virtual Screening
- Anethole and Its Role in Chronic Diseases
- Trans-anethole a terpenoid ameliorates hyperglycemia by regulating key enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats
- Antifungal activity of fluid extract and essential oil from anise fruits (Pimpinella anisum L Apiaceae)
- Essential Oils and Antifungal Activity
- Anethole inhibits growth of recently emerged multidrug resistant toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor variant strains in vitro
- Anethole a Medicinal Plant Compound
Decreases the Production of Pro-Inflammatory TNF-α and IL-1β in a Rat Model of LPS-Induced Periodontitis
- Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents of Pimpinella anisum
- Interventions for managing halitosis
- Anti-carcinogenic and Anti-bacterial Properties of Selected Spices: Implications in Oral Health
- Alternative remedies for insomnia: A proposed method for personalized therapeutic trials
- Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective
- Spices anise seed
- THE ROLE OF ESTROGEN IN THE INITATION OF BREST CANCER
- Pharmacokinetic Herb-Drug Interaction between Essential Oil of Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum L. Apiaceae) and Acetaminophen and Caffeine: A Potential Risk for Clinical Practice