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Herb Reference Guide

Star Anise

History

Star Anise was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century and was mainly used there in baked goods and in fruit compotes and jams, as well as the manufacture of Anise-flavored liqueurs, such as anisette, Galliano, Sambuca and Pernod. It is a major ingredient in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines as part of “five-spice powder,” which not only acts as a digestive, providing natural relief for digestion, but is also used to flavor curries, tea, pickles, coffee, candy, cough medicines, soft drinks and bakery products. The aromatic oils in the seedpod are also an ingredient in tomb incense in Japan, and perfumery.

Function

It contains anethole, which is the same constituent that gives Anise its distinctive flavor. The Anise flavor is licorice-like, but stronger, and it is an important commercial fruit worldwide, but mostly in Asia, where most of its market is located. Star Anise has long been used in Asian medicines to help promote good digestion. Its warming flavor and calming affect on upset stomach make it a wonderful addition to herbal teas targeting digestive wellness as well as respiratory health. Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu. Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially.

Uses of Star Anise

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

1,4 and 1,8 Cineole (this gives cinnamon like notes), beta bisabolene, caryophyllene, cinnamic alcohol, flavonol glycosides, limonene, trans-anethole.

Parts Used

  • Fruit (pericarp)

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation.

Additional Resources