Anise is one of the oldest known spice plants and has been used both for culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times.
In ancient Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) as well as the Indian or Ayurvedic system of medicine, anise has assumed a very popular stature and its used in various herbal medications in both systems for many centuries now.
Egypt has cutivated Anise for at least 4,000 years, and some of the Pharaonic medical texts show that the anise seeds were used as an herbal diuretic. Such remedies were also used in the treatment of different digestive problems, and as a therapy to relieve toothache and pain.
Even the ancient Greeks were familiar with the medicinal use of this herb. Early in the 1st century AD, the Greek scientist, Dioscorides wrote that the anise “warms, dries and dissolves” various symptoms in the body, he said the anise “facilitates breathing, relieves pain, provokes urine and eases thirst” in patients affected by such symptoms. This herb also saw widespread and popular use in the renaissance period.
To prevent indigestion and aid digestion, the Romans enjoyed anise-rich cakes, Mustacae, at the end of a rich meal. These cakes consisted of meal, with Anise, Cummin and other aromatics. Such a cake was sometimes brought in at the end of a marriage feast, and is, perhaps, the origin of our tradition of spiced wedding cake.
Today, Anise is used in the manufacture of many commercial cough syrups and sore throat medications, used to flavor other medicines and to scent soaps and perfumes.
To form a refreshing herbal breath sweetener try roasting the whole seeds lightly before chewing.
Anise is from the parsley family and, like parsley, has been used for thousands of years as a natural breath freshener. Anise seeds can be steeped in boiling water at home to produce a natural mouthwash; many mouthwashes and toothpastes sold in natural foods stores also contain anise.
Anise may be used for its aromatic qualities in oil and potpourris, and with crushed seeds added to sachets.
Anise has been shown to act as an expectorant in the body. The essential oil extracted from ground anise seeds helps loosen phlegm in the throat and lungs. Teas containing anise are very effective at helping make coughs more productive, and have even been used to treat asthma. Anise’s expectorant effect encourages the secretion of excess fluids from the digestive system, and this herb has also been shown to reduce flatulence (gas) in both children and adults.
Remedies derived from anise seeds are very commonly used with infants and children to induce relief from cases of colic, and these remedies are also given to people of all ages to help in relieving the symptoms associated with indigestion and nausea arising as a result of different reasons. Another beneficial effect of the anise seeds, mainly their antispasmodic properties are very helpful in effectively dealing with the symptoms of menstrual pain, with the discomfort during asthma attacks, in the treatment of the whooping cough, as well as in the treatment of other spasmodic coughs, and cases of bronchitis in different patients.
The volatile oil, mixed with spirits of wine forms the liqueur Anisette, which has a beneficial action on the bronchial tubes, and for bronchitis and spasmodic asthma, Anisette, if administered in hot water, is an immediate palliative.
The essential herbal oil is also a topical remedy, and it is used for the external treatment accorded to lice and to treat cases of scabies in patients. It is suggested that the essential oil must be consumed by patients when they are under careful and responsible professional supervision.
Women in the term of pregnancy must also abstain from taking anise, with the exception of minute amounts, such as those normally used during cooking.
- Anise, like fennel, contains anethole, a phytoestrogen.
- Anise can be used to relieve menstrual cramps.
- The main use of anise in European herbal medicine was for its carminative effect, as stressed by John Gerard in his Great Herbal, his encyclopedia of early modern herbal medicine.
- The essential oil is reportedly used as an insecticide against head-lice and mites.
- It is also claimed that anise is effective bait for rats and mice and the distilled oil dabbed onto a fishing lure will improve a fisherman’s chances.
- Dogs are also attracted by anise and often an ingredient in dog food.
- Anise seeds may be used to lay drag hunt trails and also to attract fish to fishing lures