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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

AniseAnise, Star

aka Anis (Fr), Anise Cultivè, Aniseed, Anissame (Ger), Annissamen, Anisum, Anysun (Arab), Sweet Cumin
(Pimpinella anisum)

CONTRAINDICATED: When acid reflux is present.

CONTAINS: Upto 6% volatile oils (including anethole making up 80 to 90% of this; anethole is light sensitive) which are responsible for the action of easing griping pains, intestinal colic and flatulence; transanethole, 30% fatty oils, fixed oil (contains traces of methyl, chavicol, p-methoxyphenylacetone) sugar, mucilage, proteins, safrole, coumarins, flavonoid glycosides, sterols; calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, trace of sodium and zinc.
Seeds contain anisic aldehyde.

Native to Egypt, Greece, Crete and Asia Minor. During Roman times was cultivated in Tuscany. Spread to Europe during the Middle Ages. First cultivated by the Egyptians as a spice. Was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus of Egypt and used in early Greek medicine. Pythagoras believed that just holding the plant could prevent epileptic seizures. Hippocrates recommended it for coughs. Pliny preferred its use for bad breath, keeping one's appearance youthful and for preventing bad dreams if used in a sleep pillow. The Romans made a cake called "mustaceum" which incorporated anise and other spicy herbs and was served after a meal to aid digestion; it's believed this may have been the forerunner of our modern "wedding cake". Anise was also used by the Romans to pay their taxes. In the 9th century Charlemagne instructed it to be planted and grown on imperial farms. Leaves are aromatic and finely divided. Its popularity has declined in recent years due to the use of cheaper flavorings. The Oil is used in perfumery, tobacco products and pharmaceutical products as well as in baked goods, mouthwashes and toothpastes. Most licorice candy does not contain licorice due to toxicity problems but instead gets its flavor from anise oil.

PROPAGATION: By seed (require a temperature of 70º F. to germinate). Annual. Requires a 140 day growing season..does not do well in the north.
NEEDS: Full sun. Average to poor soil (soil pH of 6) which is dry, well-draining. (Grow with coriander) Has a long tap root so is not suitable for pot culture or transplanting.
HARVEST: Ripe dry seeds taken in early autumn; drying can be completed indoors. Take when seeds have turned from green to grayish brown; cut the umbel with a bit of the stalk attached and place upside down in a paper bag to finish drying.
FLOWERS: White flowers appear in clusters in late summer.

PART USED: Flowers, stems, roots, leaves, seeds, oil.
SOLVENT: Wholly in alcohol, partially in water.


Sweet, warming, stimulant, bronchial aid, expectorant, antispasmodic, carminative, parasiticide, aromatic, antiseptic, tonic. Considered stimulant for heart, liver, lungs and brain. Has a mild hormonal action which is mostly estrogenic.
Stimulates the flow of digestive juices in the stomach and intestines; increases the efficiency by which fats are broken down into fatty acids.
Has been used as a children's herb for upper respiratory problems and flatulence. Tea used for headcolds taken 3 times daily.
Has been used for colds in infants: 2 oz. bruised seeds covered with 2 cups boiling water and steeped 15 minutes; cool, then strained; given to infant in teaspoon doses upto 1 year of age and upto 3 tsps for children 4 years and older.
As a warming herb has been used in cases of chills and inflammations.
Has been used toimprove digestion; beneficial to liver and circulation. Warm tea taken to improve appetite.
Has been used for coughs, bronchitis and asthma: Tincture of Anise = crush a handful of seeds and steep in 1 pint of brandy for 2 weeks; strain. Use 1 tsp in 1 cup of hot water OR use Anisette liqueur (several tsps in warm water for a hacking bronchial cough or to help with an asthma attack).
Has been used to loosen phlegm, for hard dry coughs, for coughs and colds, for tracheal irritations and spasmodic coughs.
Infused seeds (tea) considered a natural antacid used for nausea and abdominal pain, to aid digestion and to prevent and treat flatulence.
Has been used for stomach problems and nausea (Anisette liqueur works well).
Has been used in cases of infant colic, children's stomache and bowel complaints.
Has been combined with equal amounts of fennel and caraway for colic (also used as an intestinal puifier); combined with peppermint for adult colic (peppermint NOT be used on young children); combined with caraway for flatulence; combined with black cherry (Prunus serotina) for tracheitis; combined with 1 to 2 ml wild lettuce (Lactuca spp) for dry coughs; for bronchial problems is combined with one or more of horehound, coltsfoot, lobelia inflata, skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus); oil often mixed with oil of Eucalyptus globulus as a chest rub for respiratory problems; combined with 2 to 3 ml thyme or hyssop for infections.
Warm tea has been taken orally or in enema for intestinal gas.
Has been used for hiccups and coughs either a few seeds are chewed or else the tea is gargled.
Has been used for nagging coughs, dry coughs, whooping cough, persistant irritable bronchial coughs, bronchitis, tracheitis, bronchial asthma; also used as a chest rub for bronchial problems.
An infusion has been used for bronchial and upper respiratory problems. The liqueur is used for bronchitis and asthma. For head colds with clogged nostrils and throat, difficult breathing, aching sinuses, an infusion is made with honey or lemon and taken 3 or 4 times daily when cold is at its worst.
Has been used for bronchitis: Infuse 1 oz. of seed in 1 pint of boiling water and skim off the oil which rises to the top; mix with one to 4 parts of wine and take 6 drops in a wineglassful of hot water; will also help to encourage sleep.
Seeds have also been smoked for respiratory complaints.
The Ayurvedic "trikatu" is taken as a natural antihistimine and is also added to other herbal combinations which are used for the same purpose. (Trikatu = 1 part powdered black pepper, 1 part powdered ginger root, 2 parts powdered anise seed; combine and add a little honey to form a paste; dose is 1/2 tsp 3 times daily before meals.
Has been used as a decongestant for children.
Standard decoction of the roots has been used for fever.
Has been used for female problems: used to promote milk, regulate periods, ease birthing, allay menopause symptoms. Infusion used for delayed menses.
Tea has been taken before bedtime and sipped by nursing mothers to improve lactation.
Anise oil has been used for destroying lice, scabies and itching insects; often used in ointment form. Oil often mixed with oil of Sassafras albidum for skin parasites. For LICE, one method has been to combine 1 part of anise oil with 3 parts of olive oil; rub into hair; wrap hair in plastic wrap and leave in place 2 hours; shampoo thoroughly and use fine comb to remove any remaining eggs; repeat 1 or 2 times during the next 10 days.
Has been combined with laxative herbs (cascara, buckthorn, rhubarb) in order to prevent griping caused by those stronger herbs. Warm tea of anise has also been used for cramps.
Either warm tea or chewing a few seeds has been used for dizziness, vertigo and motion sickness. Chewing a few seeds also used for edema and insatiable thirst.
Warm tea has been used to prevent vomiting. Also said to be helpful in epilepsy.
Has been used for low blood pressure: 4 to 5 size 00 capsules per day filled with powdered seeds.
Has been used as an eyewash in a weak tisane of 1/2 tsp ground seed steeped in 1 pint water.
Ayurvedic medicine uses it in combination with other herbs as an enema in cases of nervous disorders, constipation, distention, lower back pain, gout, rheumatism, sciatica, arthritis, chronic fever, colds/flu, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, neck pains, hyperacidity, nervous headache, muscular atrophy.
Seeds are used in sleep pillows for bad dreams and insomnia.
Tea has been used as a memory stimulant.
Tincture has been used as a gargle for bad breath.
Cotton soaked with anise oil has been used to fill decayed tooth cavities to alleviate pain.
4 capsules (size 00) have been taken per day for ulcers OR 1 to 2 cups tea daily OR a few seeds chewed.
Said to relieve hangover.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
INFUSION = Seeds should be crushed slightly just before use to release oils. 1 cup boiling water over 1 to 2 tsp seeds; steep 5-10 minutes. (1 C. taken 3 times daily). Seeds can also be crushed into a powder and 1 tsp used with 1 cup of boiling water steeped 5-8 minutes. 1 cup 3 times daily (for flatulence should be taken slowly before meals) Also: Taken cold, 1 to 2 cups daily.

TINCTURE = 2 oz. bruised/crushed seeds in 1 pint of brandy (adding a lemon peel is optional); let stand in warm place for 3 weeks; strain; taken 1 tsp at a time (1/4 to 1/2 fluid dram).
ANISE WATER = 1/2 tsp bruised/crushed seeds boiled in 1 cup water; strain. OIL = 1 drop in 1/2 tsp honey or 10 drops in 6 oz. warm water (for asthma, bronchitis and lung congestion).
For DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS = 1 Tbsp ground seed boiled in 1/2 pint milk and taken 2 times daily.

Used for cows to increase milk production.
Powdered seeds once used in condition" pills for horses.
Used for colic and digestive problems in animals.
Used in health-formula puppy foods for weaning pups.

There are many uses for the seeds in cooking as a flavoring, wherever the distinctive licorice-like taste is desired.
Fresh leaves added to salads, vegetables and other cooked dishes.
Seeds used to flavor candy (ie. Aniseed balls), dried figs, cakes, breads and curries.
Anise goes well with cinnamon and bay.
Dried leaves can be used for tea.
Anisette can be made with equal parts anise, coriander and fennel in sugared vodka.
The seeds and oils are the basis of anise flavored drinks such as Pernod, Annisette (French), Pastis (French), Ouzo (Greek), Anisone (Greek), Raki, (Turkish), Aguardiente (Latin America), Kummel (Latvian), Ojen (Spanish), Tres Castillos (Puerto Rican) and Arak (which turns milky when water is added).
Fennel leaf and seed can be substituted for anise.
Anise is good added to fish stocks.
Used in curry powders.

Ground seeds used in potpourri and sachets.

Used to reduce oiliness of skin.
A facepack from ground seeds has been used to fade freckles. Also the fresh leaves applied externally have been used to fade freckles.
Used in perfumery for a spicy note.

Used to relax and for insomnia.

Repels aphids.
The oil by itself or combined with oil of Sassafras (and sometimes Carbolic acid) has been used externally as an insect repellent.

Used in animal foods and baits. Dogs love the scent and in greyhound racing the "rabbit" is scented with anise.
Once used to bait mouse traps.
Anise is poisonous to pigeons and was once used to bait them.
Purported to keep away the "evil eye".
Essential oil used to prevent mold in paste.
Once used as bait by dog thieves.


One pound of oil is retrieved from 50 lbs. of seed - usual method is water distillation.
Seeds and oil contain estrogenic agents. Cows sprayed with anise oil have been shown to produce more milk.
People who are repelled by anise do not need anethol which works within the pancreas to help digestive processes.
In commerce anise is added to cough syrups.
Once considered to be an aphrodisiac...but then...what wasn't?


(by machine or hand)


3 tsp active dry yeast
4 C. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp unbleached sugar
1¼ C. room temperature milk
1 room temp egg
2 tsp bruised anise seed

Place ingredients into machine according to the order specified by the macine's manufacturor and proceed to make bread.


Using the same ingredients above, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Warm the mik to 100° F. Combine yeast, sugar and 2 Tbsp of the warm milk and let sit for 10 minutes. Beat the egg and stir into the remaining mik, then add seeds. Combine the flour and yeast mixtures. Add the egg/milk mixture and stir well. When dough begins to hold together, turn out and knead for 8 minutes or till smooth and elastic. Place in oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or till doubled. Punch down, turn out and knead again for about 5 min. Shape into a loaf and place in oiled bread pan. Let rise about 40 min while covered with a towel. Bake at 400° F for 40 min.

2 eggs
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 C. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp crushed anise seed.

Sift together flour and baking soda and set aside. Beat eggs till light and add sugar gradually. Continue beating for 3 to 5 minutes. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture. Add seeds. Beat 5 minutes. Drop 1/2 tspfuls of batter on cookie sheet. Dry at room temp for 18 hours then bake at 325° F about 12 minutes or till they begin to brown.

6 apples
1 C. sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1½ tsp anisette liqueur
1/2 C. water in a baking dish

Core apples but do not peel. Place in baking dish. Mix sugar, butter, pecans and anisette. Stuff apples with mixture. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Sprinkle finished apples with anisette. Miniature marshmallows can be added to apple cavities during the last few minutes of baking.

This recipe can also be used to make mint or horehound candy. Use 1½ C. of leaves for these.

In a saucepan combine 4 C. water and 2 Tbsp bruised seed. Bring slowly to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain off herb. Add 3 C. sugar and 3 C. brown sugar. Stir till dissolved. Boil to hard crack stage and remove from heat. Pour into shallow oiled pan. Mark into squares as soon as possible. Break into pieces as soon as it is hard and wrap individually.

aka Anise tree, Aniseed Star, Badiane, Chinese Anise
(Illicium verum)

A tree native to Southeast Asia which is part of a number of species of evergreen trees and shrubs. Hardy where freezes do not occur. The leathery leaves smell of anise and the flowers are produced directly from the bark. The flowers are a small magnolia-type, yellow-white in color and sometimes tinged red to pink on the inside in summer. These are followed by 8 pointed woody fruits containing a single seed in each segment.
A related tree, native to Japan, is I. anisatum. It is poisonous (contains sikimitoxin) but its smaller, odorless (some say it smells of cardamon rather than anise) fruit has been used to adulterate true star anise supplies. Although not used internally due to its toxicity, it is used in Chinese medicine to treat skin problems.
A North American variety - Illicium floridanum (aka starry anise, anise tree and star anise) - is used in similar manner as I. verum. The bark and fruit are used as a bitter tonic, stimulant and diaphoretic.
Illicium is Latin for "allurement".

PROPAGATION: By semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
NEEDS: Moisture retentive, well-draining soil with neutral to acid pH in partial shade.
HARVEST: Fruits are taken when unripe for chewing; as a spice for flavoring curries, confections and other foods, and taken ripe for oil distillation or to use in decoctions and powders. Fruit is collected green and then sun dried until woody and red brown in color.
PART USED: Fruits [ba jiao hui xiang] and oil.


Warming and drying , stimulant, benefits digestion, relieves pain, antifungal and anti-bacterial properties, mildly diuretic.
Has been used internally for abdominal pain, digestive complaints, problems associated with cold weather such as lumbago.
Has been used in remedies for digestive problems, cough mixtures and as a flavoring agent in medicinal preparations.
Has been chewed after meals as a digestive aid and breath sweetener in the East.
In Chinese medicine the oil of the fruit is considered an antidote for a number of poisons and to treat rheumatism.
Has been used in Asian medicine for colic and rheumatism.
Homeopathic preparations are made from the seeds.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
INFUSION = 1 to 2 cups daily. 1 tsp crushed seeds steeped in 1 cup water just off the boil.)
TINCTURE = 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.

Used to flavor curries, tea and pickles.
An ingredient of Chinese Five-spice powder used in Oriental cookery.
Used to flavor coffee and candy.
Oil is used to flavor liqueurs (ie. anisette), soft drinks and baked goods.
Used to flavor Vermouth.

The Japanese plant this tree in temples and on tombs and use the pounded bark as incense.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH