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Anise

  • Pimpinella anisum L.
  • Umbelliferae
  • Umbel family



Common Names

herbsAnise plant
herbsAniseed
herbsAnise seed
herbsCommon anise
herbsHua-hsian


Parts Usually Used

Seed


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

An annual plant; the spindle-shaped, thin, woody root sends up a round, grooved, branched stem up to 1 1/2 feet high. The lowest leaves are round-cordate and long-petioled, the middle leaves are pinnate, and those at the top are incised into narrow lobes. The small, white flowers appear in compound umbels during July and August. The downy, brown ovate fruit is about 1/8 inch long and ripens during August and September. The whole plant has a fragrant odor, and the seeds taste sweet when chewed. It has a licorice-like flavor.


Where Found

Anise occurs wild but is widely cultivated. Native to the Mediterranean.


Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic


Biochemical Information

Essential oil with anethole, choline, fatty oil


Legends, Myths and Stories

Most people don't think of anise in terms of its popularity with mice, but in the 16th century, anise found wide application as a mouse-trap bait. According to several old herbals, the mice found it irresistible. The Romans served a wedding cake strongly flavored with anise seeds to help prevent indigestion caused by overeating at the marriage banquet. From this ancient practice came the tradition of baking special cakes for weddings.

Anise is called Huai-hsiang in China, eaten to relieve flatulence and griping bowels. The Herbal Almanac states the a few drops of Oil of Anise, or Oil of Rhodium on a trappers bait will entice any wild animal into the snare trap.


Uses

Anise promotes digestion, improves appetite, alleviates cramps and nausea, cough, colds, and relieves flatulence, bad breath, and, especially in infants, colic (mothers who sip anise tea will relieve the colic in the breast feeding baby). Is useful as an expectorant for coughs. Anise water promotes milk production in nursing mothers, and a soothing eyewash. Said to promote the onset of menstruation when taken as an infusion. Anise oil helps relieve cramping, and spasms and is good as a stomach tonic. For insomnia, that a few seeds in a glass of hot milk before bedtime. Can be made into a salve to use for scabies or lice. A tea made from equal parts of anise, caraway, and fennel makes an excellent intestinal purifier. Because of its sweetness, anise is a good additive to improve the flavor of other medicines.

Anisette, sold in most liquor stores, has volatile oil of anise as part of the preparation. Anisette is reputedly helpful for bronchitis and spasmodic asthma. Taken in hot water, anisette is said to be an immediate palliative.

5 to 10 drops of anise oil on top of a tsp. of honey, taken every 1/2 hour before meals, is said to be helpful in some cases of emphysema. 15 drops of essence of anise added to 1 quart of hot water, used as an inhalant, will sometimes help stubborn cases of laryngitis.

Anise has a wide variety of applications in cooking as well as medicine.


Formulas or Dosages

As seeds ripen, turning from green to gray-brown, harvest them. Alcohol extracts the medicinal properties of anise more effectively than water.

Infusion: use 1 tsp. crushed seed to 1/2 or 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes and strain. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups during the day, a mouthful at a time.

Decoction: for colic, boil 1 tbsp. seed in 1/2 pint milk for 10 minutes; strain and drink hot.

Tincture: to prepare, add 2 oz. seed to 1/2 qt. brandy. Add some clean lemon peels and let stand in a sunny place for 20 days, then strain. Take 1 tsp. at a time.

Anise water: boil 1/2 tsp. seed in 1/2 pint water, then strain.


How Sold

Seed

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