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Anise - Pimpinella anisum

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a lovely aromatic herb and spice, that is commonly used during the Fall and Winter months in various preparations such as in cookies, elixirs, and even in our potpourri blends.

With its warm, comforting, and slightly sweet aroma and flavor, anise also brings to us a rich story of adventures through locations such as Iran and the Mediterranean.

In the Mediterranean area (Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, and France) anise can be found as a main ingredient in local beverages such as anis, arak, pastis, ouzo, sambuca, zivania, and raki.

In Japan, Star anise trees are planted around temples and tombs, as well as the bark being pounded into incense.

Common Name: Anise

Latin Name: Pimpinella anisum

Family: Umbellaferae, Apiaceae

Geographic: Eastern Mediterranean Region, West Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, Egypt, Spain, Egypt, Greece, Rome.

Usage Forms: Seeds, essential oil, various extracts, tincture, teas, infusion

Flavors: The volatile oil anethole is what gives anise it’s sweet flavor.

Aroma: Described as sweet and licorice-like.

Essential Oil Color: clear, colorless, or pale yellow.

Chemical Constituents: Aniseed contains 1.5-5 mass % essential oil, up to 8-11 mass % of lipids rich in fatty acids (palmitic and oleic acids), 4 mass % of carbohydrates, and 18 mass % of protein.

Choline, sugar, and mucilage.

In 1978, a new terpene hydrocarbon was isolated and called neophytadiene.

  • Essential oil: trans-anethole (93.9%), estragole (2.4%), y-hymachalen, para-anisaldehyde, and methyl cavicol. The major compounds in the essential oil include eugenol trans-anethole, methylchavicol, anisaldehyde, estragole, coumarins, scopoletin, umbelliferone, estrols, terpene hydrocarbons, polyenes, and polyacetylenes.

  • Whole plant: trans-anethole 57.4%, pinene, limonene.

  • Seed: trans-anethole 75.2%, coumarins (bergapten, umbelliferone, scopoletin), flavonoids (rutin, isovitexin, quercetin, luteolin, apigenin glycosides), phenylpropanoids, lipids, fatty acids, sterols, proteins, carbohydrates.

  • Plant Oil: in amounts of 1-5% include cis-anethole, carvone, beta-caryophyllene, dihydrocarvyl acetate, estragole, and limonene.

  • Supercritical CO2: anethole (~90%), y-himachalene (2-4%), p-anisaldehyde (<1%), methylchavicol (0.9-1.5%), cis-pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate (~3%), and trans-pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate (~1.3%).

Therapeutic Properties: abortifacabortifacient, analgesic (essential oil, fixed oil), antibacterial (aqueous and 50% methanol extract, ethanol extract, essential oil and methanol extract in combination with thymus vulgaris, aqueous decoction), anticonvulsant (essential oil, methanolic extract of seeds, aqueous extract of leaves and stems, extract), anti diabetic (seed powder), anti-fungal (essential oil, fluid extract, methanol extract), anti microbial, anti nausea (essential oils of aniseeds, Foeniculum vulgar, Anthemis nobilis, and Mentha piperita), antioxidant (ethanol extract, water extract, essential oil, oleoresin, ethyl acetate fraction of ethanol extract, anise tea), antiseptic to mucous membranes, antispasmodic and relaxant of anococcygeus smooth muscle (hydroalcoholic extract of 60% ethanol), anti ulcer (aqueous suspension), antiviral (essential oil, lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes from hot water extract), aromatic, carminative, digestive, disinfectant, diuretic, estrogenic, expectorant, galactagogue, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic (seed powder), insecticidal (essential oil, p-anisaldehyde from aniseed oil), laxative (phytotherapeutic compound of anise and Foeniculum vulgar, Sambucus nigra, Cassia angustifolia), muscle relaxant of tracheal chain (aqueous extract, ethanolic extract, essential oil),

Therapeutic Uses: abdominal cramps, catarrh, colds, colic, complexion, congestion, coughs, culinary, reduction of pain in dysmenorrhea (herbal capsule, extracts of anise, celery, and saffron), gastrointestinal spasms, helicobacter infections, herbal steams, irritable bowel syndrome, increase beta-carotene, vitamins A and C (seed powder), increase menstruation, increase sweat secretion, increase glucose absorption from the jejunum (essential oil), increase urine output, increase milk production in lactating women, lice, melancholy, reduce menopausal hot flashes (capsules of anise extract), migraines, nightmares, polishing teeth, reduce morphine dependence (essential oil), reduce volume of urine (essential oil), relieve gas and bloating, rheumatism, scabies, stress and other psychological disturbances, symptoms associated with an altered composition of intestinal flora mainly caused by food born infections or physiological alterations causing a slowing down of the intestinal content transit, treatment of epilepsy and seizures

Nutrition: The seeds of anise are good sources of essential B-complex vitamins; pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. In addition, the seeds are a source of calcium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Vitamin C and Vitamin A are also found in the seeds.

Other Uses: Flavoring and aromatic for fish products, ice cream, candies, sweets, toffees, beverages, cough drops, and gum. Anise is also used for its hair and skin benefits.

The fruit and essential oil of anise is implemented in the food industry in order to provide a source of antioxidants, flavoring, as an anti spoilage agent, and as a preservative.

Emotional Uses: The essential oil may be used in a diffuser or personal inhaler to help lift the mood with feelings of inspiration and creativity.

Spiritual Uses: Said to increase psychic abilities. Used in magical practices to ward off the Evil Eye.

Energetics: Warm, spicy, and dry.

Traditional Iranian Medicine: The fruits are especially used as an analgesic in cases of migraines, carminative, aromatic, disinfectant, diuretic, and galactagogue.

Traditional Indian Medicine: Used as an antiseptic, stomachic, carminative, and stimulant. Used to prevent flatulence and colic.

Safety/Contraindications: Considered narcotic in large doses. Do not use the essential oil or herb if you are pregnant.

Do not use the essential oil with infants and small children under five.

Allergic reactions to anise have been reported.

Do not use the essential oil or herb in cases of endometriosis, estrogen dependent cancers. The essential oil should only be used topically (diluted). The essential oil is prone to oxidation and is at risk of adulteration with cheaper star anise oil or technical grade anethole. The essential oil may possibly be carcinogenic based on estragole content.

The essential oil may modulate reproductive hormones.

The essential oil may inhibit blood clotting.

Essential oil oral: Diabetes medications, diuretic medications, renal insufficiency, edematous disorders, anticoagulant drugs, major surgery, peptic ulcers, hemophilia, and other bleeding disorders. American Herbal Product’s Association: Safety Class 1; Interactions Class A


  • 3-9 gms (herb).

  • 70 mg/day maximum of anise oil (based on 5.0% estragole content).

  • Anise oil topically: maximum 2.4% dilution.

  • Tincture: 1-4 ml three times daily (1:5 in 40%)

  • Infusion of gentle crushed seeds: 1-2 tsp covered and infused for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink 1 cup, three times daily.

Commision E recommends a daily dose of 3 g of the dried fruit or 0.3 g of essential oil.

German Commission E recommends for adults and children over 12 years of age a single dose of 1 g (crushed seed) three times daily.

Valnet recommends a half coffee spoon amount of crushed seeds for one cop of tea; three times daily. For the powder, Valnet recommends 0.2 to 2 grams. One to two teaspoons of powder are used to make one cup of fresh tea, to be taken twice per day. One teaspoon corresponds to 3.5 grams.

Do not use for longer than two weeks.


The essential oil should be stored in a dark, glass container kept out of sunlight. It is recommended to store the essential oil in the refrigerator.

The herb should be stored in an air tight glass container away from sunlight and out of a high humidity area. High humidity and air exposure contributes to the deterioration of the seeds.



Annie’s Remedy. (n.d.). Anise seed benefits. Annies Remedy Herbs for Self Healing.

European Medicines Agency. (2013). Assessment report on Pimpinella anisum L., fructus and Pimpinella anisum L., aetheroleum.

Gaby, A. (2006). A-Z guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions: Improve your health and avoid side effects when using common medications and natural supplements together (2nd ed.). Harmony.

Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (2013). American herbal products association’s botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). CRC Press.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press.

Ibrahim, D. A. (2017). Medicinal benefits of anise seeds (Pimpinella anisum) and thymus vulgaris in a sample of healthy volunteers. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy, 8(3), 91-95.

Preedy, V. R. (2015). Essential oils in food preservation, flavor and safety. Academic Press.

Shojaii, A., & Abdollahi Fard, M. (2012).

Review of pharmacological properties and chemical constituents of pimpinella anisum. ISRN Pharmaceutics, 2012, 1-8.

Sun, W., Shahrajabian, M. H., & Cheng, Q. (2019). Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), a dominant spice and traditional medicinal herb for both food and medicinal purposes. Cogent Biology, 5(1), 1673688.

Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary Herbology: An integration of western herbs into the traditional Chinese and ayurvedic systems. Lotus Press (WI).

Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2013). Essential oil safety: A guide for health care professionals. Churchill Livingstone.

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