Anise is not only a spice characterized by marked aromatic properties. In fact, the most recent studies have shown that the spice is responsible for various health benefits, see which.
The anise, Pimpinella anisum, is an annual herbaceous plant with particular aromatic properties belonging to the Umbelliferae family.
Anise in Italy grows wild in areas with hot and dry climate, especially in the Mediterranean basin.
- Chemical Composition
Its stem reaches an average height of 40/50 centimeters, its flowers are small, white in color and bloom in early summer. Its fruit is small with an oval shape and yellowish green, it tends to darken during maturation.
The parts used are the seeds that are harvested in August. The plant is native to the East and was already cultivated in ancient times by the Egyptian, Arab and Greek population.
|Chemical composition for 100 grams of anise|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||16|
Contains coumarins (bergaptene and scopolamine), flavonoids such as rutin (in the fruit), quercetin and luteolin in the plant. Other constituents of the plant are represented by terpenes such as alpha-pinene, beta-pinene and sabinene.
Anise: Properties and Benefits
Many know the anise only for its aromatic use in the preparation of sweets and liqueurs. In reality this plant also has other properties that can bring health benefits.
The seeds contain anethole, a compound that is responsible for the flavor and unique aroma of this spice. A 2015 animal study showed that anethole is able to prevent increased blood sugar levels. According to the research this compound changes the activity of some enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.
Obviously further studies are needed to confirm this property but the first results bode well. ( 1 )
Its intake in the form of herbal tea is able to stimulate the glandular secretions, in particular of the maternal gland. This increases the quantity and quality of breast milk.
A 2017 study tested the effectiveness of anise oil on 120 patients with depression problems. After 4 weeks, anise oil has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of depression. ( 2 )
Another study showed instead that the spice is able to reduce the symptoms of post-natal depression. The research, conducted on 47 patients, was published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. ( 3 )
The stomach ulcer is characterized by the formation of painful sores that form in the lining of the stomach. Studies on this property of the spice are currently limited but, based on the first tests on animals, the anise seems able to protect the stomach.
An animal study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology has shown the protective protective properties of the spice against stomach ulcers. ( 4 )
Essential oil also has antiseptic properties, protects the wound from infection and heals them faster. It can also kill worms that are found in the intestine for the benefit of children who are more exposed to this kind of parasites.
It has also been shown that the seeds have antifungal properties that can help in treating fungal infections.
A 2005 study conducted in Zagreb demonstrated the effectiveness of the essential oil against fungi responsible for certain skin diseases. ( 5 )
Another study of 2015 showed instead the antibacterial properties of anethole, in particular the compound was effective in killing the strain of bacteria that causes cholera. ( 6 )
Another use is related to the problems of intestinal fermentation and its intake is therefore recommended in case of flatulence and muttering problems. This property is due to anethole, a substance present in its essential oil.
The anise seeds help to relieve the symptoms of menopause. This is supported by a 2012 study published in the Iran Journal of Pharmaceutical Resarch. In the test 72 women were given one capsule containing 330 milligrams of anise seed 3 times a day for 4 weeks.
The results showed that the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in post menopausal women were reduced. ( 7 )
One of the main properties of the essential oil derived from this spice is the narcotic sedative. This characteristic makes anise an ideal food for the treatment of epilepsy and hysterics. According to a 2012 study, the spice achieves these results by reducing blood circulation, a factor that positively influences epileptic seizures. ( 8 )
For many centuries the Indians have used the seeds of this spice to perfume the breath and to promote digestion. According to a recent study its essential oil stimulates digestion. In case of digestive problems it is sufficient to add a few drops of essential oil to a glass of water after a particularly abundant meal.
Anise also has a property unique, it is in fact used to cure sexual desire problems. An infusion of one tablespoon of crushed seeds in a liter of water is what is needed for this purpose. Drink a glass in the evening, no more to avoid side effects.
The plant is also useful in the treatment of bronchitis, an infusion based on anise is useful to facilitate the expulsion of mucus.
According to a 2006 study, essential oil is a very effective natural insecticide. This compound is in fact poisonous for flies and mosquitoes and it is for this reason that it often appears among the ingredients of various insecticides. ( 9 )
Its seeds also have the property of perfuming the breath, a characteristic that is certainly appreciated by many and, in the case of a delayed menstrual cycle, they do anticipate it.
Cultivation of the Anise
The anise reproduces by sowing in late April and early May. Its seeds have a germinating power limited in time and for this reason it is necessary that the seeds that are used for sowing are recent.
The first shoot takes a month to appear, but later the seedling will grow very quickly. Any transplants should be avoided, as they are not well tolerated.
For the cultivation it prefers a sunny position with dry, drained soil rich in nutrients.
Externally used, essential oil can cause blisters and irritations to appear in people sensitive to this spice.
Internal use of essential oil in high doses is toxic as it has narcotic properties and can lead to unpleasant effects such as convulsions, narcosis and circulation problems.
Pliny the Elder claimed that the anise had two main properties: it stimulated sleep and kept the face cool.
Chewing its seeds at the end of a meal, in addition to helping digestion, it also smells of breath.
In phytotherapy, fresh seeds and leaves are used as they contain various active ingredients.
The plant can also be cultivated in pot with common earth fertilized but with manure.
Since ancient times it was used both as a spice and as a medicinal plant. The first historical reference appears in Egypt in the Ebbers papyri, the first treatise on medicinal herbs.
With the flour and anise the ancient Romans prepared a bread called mustaceum which they consumed at the end of the meal to which they attributed digestive properties. In those times the anise was so important that it was also used as a currency.
Another particular use that was made in antiquity was to use it as a bait for mice, in fact it seems that its aroma attracts them.
The star anise plant belongs to the Magnoliaceae family and is similar in use and properties to the green variety. At high doses it can be toxic with narcotic effects that can lead to delirium with convulsions.
The scientific name of the plant is Illicium verum, a tropical plant that can reach important dimensions.
The fruits have a characteristic star shape composed of eight valves containing as many seeds.
The star anise is widely used and appreciated in India, Indonesia and China where, in addition to being the’ main ingredient of some foods, is also used for making liquor.
The name naturally derives from its characteristic star shape. It is also known as Siberia Anise due to its introduction into Europe through Russia.
The major producing countries are Turkey, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China and India. The best quality spice is produced in Spain.
The cosmetic industry uses its essential oil for the preparation of many products: perfumes, soaps, toothpastes and skin creams.
Anise: Properties and Benefits
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