The anise referred to here should not be confused with fennel, or Star Anise/Chinese Anise/Japanese Star Anises/Badian (Illicium Verum), which has a different chemistry and toxicity. Known as velaiti saunf (India and Pakistan), yansoon (Middle East), Pythagoras believed just holding the plant could prevent epileptic fits. Hyppocrates recommended it for colds, and Pliny recommended it for bad breath.
The fruit aniseed is often used in Western cooking for its slight licorice flavor to dishes, drinks, sweets and cough mixtures. It is used more in Asian cooking, in the Middle Eastern arak, the Columbian aguardiante, Greek uzo, and the Turkish raki. Charlemagne gave instructions for it to be grown on imperial farms. In the American Civil War it was used an antiseptic by the nurse Maureen Hellstorm, and the British in the early days of the steam locomotive put anis oil on the bearings of white metal so that when there was overheating, the distinctive smell would act as an alarm.
Native to the Middle East it has been cultivated in Egypt for its medicinal properties for 4,000 years. It was cultivated in Tuscany during the times of the Romans, and spread to Europe, with serious cultivation from the 16th century. It is an annual herbaceous plant that shares the same Umbelliferae family as Angelica. It grows well in light, but well drained soil to 3ft in height. There are lobed leaves at the base, and longer leaves higher on the stem. The hummingbird is attracted to the tiny white flowers. The seed (fruit) pod is referred to as aniseed attracts the birds, while the bees are attracted to its pollen from which the bees produce a light, but fragrant honey. Anis is grown for commercial use in Southern Russia, North Africa, Germany, the Mediterranean, Greece and South America, but the largest producing countries are China, Spain, and India. The Spanish Anise/Alicante Anise is adapted for pharmaceutical use.
Anise oil is produced from the fruit (seed), through a process of steam distillation, but the good quality oil is produced from the aniseeds (fruit) of the ripe umbels (flowers) at the center of the plant. In general, the oil is produced from the Russian and German variety. The oil is a clear pale yellow, and 15lbs of seed produces 1lb of oil by a process of steam distillation.
Adulterated anise oil is made with cheap (nature, not natural identical synthetics, for instance technical grade anethol.
The fragrance comes mainly from its natural chemical anethol…
- B- caryophyllene
- P-methoxyphenylacetone (anise ketone)
- Flavonoid glycosides
- Traces of sodium and zinc.
Anise oil is a stimulant to the digestive tract, so it stimulates the digestive juices, and increases the breakdown efficiency of fatty acids. The anethole present in the oil is responsible for easing stomach pains pertaining to flatulence and intestinal colic. Anise used to decrease bloating and settle the digestive tract in children. It is also a tonic to the circulatory system and the respiratory tract. The oil calms the nerves of those riddled with anxiety. It eases menstrual cramps, stimulates lactation, and stimulates the lungs making the lungs able to get rid of phlegm.
- Nasal/throat congestion
- Breathing difficulties
- Expels worms/lice
The anethole in anise oil contains the estrogenic agent, estragole so it should be avoided in pregnancy. Some people are sensitive to anethole, the reaction of which is dermatitis, so those with skin conditions should avoid the oil. When acid reflux is present.
The oils is of medium viscosity thus may solidify under low temperatures – it best to warm with the hands, which is easy enough if kept in a glass bottle. It should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container that is resistant to light (colored glass) at room temperature.
In cases of dyspepsia 0.3 ml. of the essential oil.
For lice, 3 parts of olive oil to 1 part anise apply thoroughly to the hair then cover the hair with a plastic bag and leave for 2 hours. Shampoo thoroughly, and comb through with a fine comb to remove eggs over a 10 day period.
For toothache – a piece of cotton soaked in oil placed on decaying teeth relieves pain.
As a vapor the oil eases asthmatic conditions, colds and respiratory problems. It stems nausea and vomiting. Inhale from a drop on the handkerchief eases migraines and vertigo.
Sprayed on cows, increases milk production!
Burfield, T. “The Adulteration of Essential Oils – and the Consequences to Armatherapy and Natural Perfumery Practice”. http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~nodice/new/magazine/october/october.htm
It All Makes Good Scents (contains glossary of therapeutic terms)