MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF ANISE
CHARACTERISTICS OF ANISE OR ANISEED
Pimpinella anisum L.
Vulgar names: Anise, aneseed
- Castilian: anise, anise, anise, sweet grass, white burnet. Anise comes from the Latin word "anisum" which in turn derives from the Greek "Anisos" while anise comes from the Arabic word habba-halaua (= sweet seed)
Scientific name: Pimpinella anisum L. = Anisum vulgare
Habitat: It comes from eastern Europe in the area that currently includes Middle East, Turkey, Egypt, Greece and the Greek islands, where it grows wild. Currently listed as a species cultivated in many warm regions in the world although it is very difficult to become naturalized outside their place of origin and only be grown from seeds planted in April (See more details about its cultivation in the listing above)
Between the main producers of the world are Turkey, China, India, Mexico, Spain and Germany. Anise of better quality is produced in Spain.
Characteristics of anise:
Perennial plant of the Umbelliferae family of up to 50 cm in height. Stems erect, pubescent, rounded and striated arising from a woody root. Leaves petiolate, the lower heart-shaped and lobed, 2-5 cm in length, the upper lanceolate-linear, and very divided. White flowers about 3 mm in diameter, together in umbels, with long stalks, with five petals. Fruit of 3-5 mm in diachenium, aromatic and provided with 5 rows.
Harvesting and conservation: The fruits of this plant are harvested in summer before fully mature. The plant is hung in a shady place to dry. Once dry, it is beaten to make the fruit fall. These are dried in the shade and stored in clean and sealed containers, in a dry and shaded place.
- Acid: ascorbic, anisic, caffeic (fruit), chlorogenic (plant)
- Terpenes: alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, sabinene, beta-bisolobene, beta-farnesene, alpha-zingiberene. (fruit)
- Coumarins: bergapten, scopolamine
- Essential oil, rich in anethole = trans-anethole, dianethole, photoanetole, thymol, eugenol. (Fruit and plant)
- Flavonoids: rutin (fruit), quercetin, luteolin (plant)
- Furfural (Fruit)
- Isovitexin (Fruit)
- Stigmaterol (Plant)
Medicinal properties of anise
Since ancient times anise plant has been used as a medicinal plant as a spice and food. The first historical reference appears in the year 1550 A.C in the famous Egyptian papyruses of Ebbers, that can be considered as one of first treaties of medicinal plants.
It was used habitually in India or China. Its use in the Greek and Roman culture was habitual.
It appears in Regarding Medical Matters of the Greek Dioscorides. Pliny, the Greek writer, speaks of the importance of chewing its fruits to clear the evil breath after eating and of as this plant, when it was placed next to the bed, were able to tranquilize the people and to favor to remove the bad breath after eating and how this plant, when placed beside the bed, was able to reassure people and promote sleep.
With flour and anise the Romans made a special bread that was known with the name of "mustaceum" and which they used at the end of the meals to facilitate the digestion. Besides food, they habitually used it for multitude of applications, like, for example, to diminish the nerves, for the treatment of the epilepsy, to improve the digestion or to boost the appetite. Its importance was so great that it was used like currency.
Their medicinal uses were increasing, so that, as of century XV or XVI it was used habitually naturopathic physicians and the general population. Even in this era it came to be used as bait to catch the mice, because the aroma attracted rodents.
Most important medicinal uses:
- Digestive Apparatus: anise has carminative, stomach, antispasmodic and sedative. These virtues are used for the treatment of digestive abnormalities such as:
- Respiratory Diseases: Anise has expectorant properties mainly due to its content anethole, thymol and terpineol. It is also a plant that contains more anti-inflammatory principles and is a good cough suppressant. This allows the lungs to help expel the secretions produced in the bronchial tubes, reduce inflammation and decrease the cough. The use of this plant is recommended as anomalies of the respiratory system:
- Bronchitis: The use of this plant helps to expel the mucosities and to reduce the inflammation. (Infusion of average teaspoon of dried fruits by water cup. Take two or three cups per day after eating) (Take 1 ml from dye two or three times per day)
- Asthma: Used in the treatment of asthma will help to improve breathing by decreasing the secretions in the chest of the sick person. We must not forget that this plant contains about 40 early anti-inflammatory can relieve constipation bronchi that causes this disease. Antitussive properties reduce the attacks of coughing. (Infusion of half a teaspoon mixed with equal parts of thyme, mint and anise. Drink two or three cups a day)
Diseases of the nervous system: Components like the alpha-pineno, alpha terpineol, stigmaterol, eugenol, linalol or thymol confer it sedative properties that can be used to calm the nerves. These properties already have been mentioned previously as very useful in case of gastric problems of nervous origin but also they can be used in other anomalies of the nervous system like:
- Nervousness: The infusion of the fruits of this plant would help to feel us calmer (Infusion of a teaspoon of dried fruits by water cup. Drink a pair of cups per day)
- Nervous Asthenia (neurasthenia): When there is corporal weakness, the few desire to work or the little interest towards the things are due to psychological cause; the use of preparations of this plant can help to raise the spirit. (Infusion of average teaspoon to equal parts of fruits of Anise and fennel. Drink a pair of cups per day)
Other medicinal uses of anise:
It has been verified that this plant is suitable for the treatment of other anomalies:
- Difficult Menstruations: The fruits of the green anise help to regulate the menstruation, reason why they can be used to fight the problems of painful periods or when these are delayed or appear irregularly, such as in dysmenorrhea. (Infusion of a teaspoon of dried fruits by water cup. Drink three daily cups)
- Lack of sexual desire: Aphrodisiac properties are attributed to anise, to increase the libido. (A glass at night of the infusion of a teaspoon of seeds crushed in a liter of water) (Do not exceed the dose or take during long time, to avoid indirect effects)
- Modifier of the flavor: Anise is used in combination with other medicinal plants to modify their flavor and scent. Its sweet flavor and its pleasant scent allow to drink some preparations derived from certain plants whose flavors and scents would not allow to be ingested if they were taken alone.
Used externally, anise is used mainly like antiseptic in the treatment of respiratory diseases of the respiratory tract or for the treatment of the mouth ulcers.
In case of mouth ulcers mouthwashes with the previous preparation can be done.
Other non medicinal uses of anise:
Besides its medicinal uses, we have to emphasize other very important uses:
- Anise as a spice: It is very useful for flavoring soups and stews or can be added to dishes of vegetables in order to make them less flatulent. (See more information about "anise and spice" in the listing above.)
- Anise in the industry: The cosmetic industry uses the essential oil to perfume many products. Thus, for example, it is a habitual component of soaps, detergents, toothpastes, or creams for the skin.
The pharmaceutical industry uses the essential oil to disguise the bad flavor of some medicines. In the domestic fishing it is used to give aroma to the baits, with which the fish are attracted. In India, this product diluted in water is used as cologne.
Is anise a safe plant?
The use of this plant, in suitable doses, does not present toxicity nor contraindications, except for certain particular reactions in certain sensible people to its components.
Pregnant and nursing women, and children under 6 years old should not ingest the essential oil. Equally counterproductive internal use of this oil in people with digestive problems or neurological diseases.
Used externally the essential oil can bring about adverse reactions with appearance of blisters or dermatitis in allergic people or with inflammatory diseases of the skin.
The internal use of the essential oil in high doses is toxic. It has narcotic properties. It may cause narcosis, convulsions, problems of circulation and even originate a coma. Improper use can cause symptoms similar to absinthism, a condition that occurs when you consume too much absinthe, which contains anethole liqueur, absinthe is mainly characterized by lack of muscle strength with possible paralysis, seizures and mental problems (lack of clarity, persecution complex, etc)
More information on anise in the listing above.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.