Aniseed is a small herb growing to about 60cm with bright green delicate leaves and tiny white flowers. Star Anise is an evergreen tree growing up to about 9 m with a slender white trunk, yellow flowers and star shaped fruits.
This genus of about 150 species of annuals, biennials, and perennials ranges through Eurasia and N Africa. Pimpinella anisum was first cultivated as a spice by the ancient Egyptians and later by the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. It needs a hot summer to thrive and for seed to ripen, and it is seldom successful outdoors in northern temperate regions. Though widely grown commercially, it has declined in recent years through competition with cheaper anise flavorings, such as Illicium verum (See, Star Anise) and synthetic anethole. The essential oil consists of 70-90 percent anethole, which has estrogenic effects. Pimpinella saxifraga is mainly used for medicinal purposes. It has a large portion of coumarins in the roots, and is used interchangeably with the larger-rooted var. nigra (black caraway) and the closely related P. major (greater burnet saxifrage, greater pimpernel). Neither P. major nor P. saxifraga is particularly ornamental, though P. major 'Rosea' is an attractive, pink-flowered cultivar. Pimpinella may be from the Latin bipinnula, referring to the twice-pinnately divided leaves, or from "pimpernel" (Latin piper, "pepper") perhaps referring to the spicy flavor.

Used as a spice and an herbal remedy by the ancient Egyptians, the sweet, licorice-tasting anise seeds have long been used in tea form to relieve digestive complaints and ease coughs and colds. It also has been used to increase milk production in nursing mothers and relieve menstrual problems, most likely because it contains phytoestrogens, a plant form of the female hormone estrogen.

Anise is responsible for much of the "licorice" flavoring in baked goods, liqueurs, teas, and chewing gum. Chinese star anise and aniseed myrtle, although unrelated to anise have a similar flavor.

Anise is an aromatic annual with stalked, toothed leaves that may be simple or lobed. The slender flowerings stems bear compound umbels of white flowers followed by ridged gray seeds.

Aromatic, downy annual with kidney-shaped to ovate, pinnate leaves, to 5cm (2in) long, divided into linear segments. Tiny off-white flowers are produced in umbels to 4cm (1½in) across in summer, followed by ribbed seeds, about 5mm (¼in) long.

Anise is a highly aromatic, low-growing plant that produces feathery leaves and small yellow and white flowers on stalks that reach a height of one to two feet (30 to 60cm). It is native to the Mediterranean coasts of West Asia and is cultivated in Egypt, Spain, and Turkey. The essential oil, distilled from the seeds, is used in medicine. The seeds are also used in the manufacture of flavored liqueurs, such as the French anisette and the Greek ouzo, and in the flavoring of food.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Aniseed, Common Anise, Pimpinel Seed, Pimpinella, Sweet Cumin.
Botanical Name:
Pimpinella anisum
Native Location:
Aniseed is found in Egypt, Greece, Spain and India: Star Anise is found is Southeast China and Vietnam
C and S Europe, Russia, Cyprus, Syria.
Rich, well-drained, sandy soil, pH6.0-7.5, in sun P. anisum. Dry, alkaline soil in sun or light shade (P. saxifraga). Pimpinella anisum is recommended in companion planting to repel aphids and cabbage worms; the flowers attract parasitic wasps, which prey on a number of garden pests.
Anise prefers and enriched, light, well-drained and fairly neutral soil.
By seed sown when ripe. Prick out seedlings into deep containers to allow development of tap roots.
Sow anise seed directly in spring.
Keep anise free of weeds.
Pests and Diseases:
Anise repels aphids and attracts beneficial insects, such as parasitoid wasps.
Plants and leaves are cut in summer and used fresh; roots are lifted in autumn and dried for use in decoctions or distilled for oil (P. saxifraga). Seeds are collected as they ripen and distilled for oil, or dried for use whole, ground, or distilled in water, infusions, and spirits (P. anisum).
Cut anise when the seeds are fully developed. Tie bunches inside paper bags and hang them upside down to dry and catch the seed. Harvest leaves as required, and dig up roots in autumn.
Magickal Uses
The leaves are used for protection. The seeds are burned as meditation incense. Filling a small pillowcase with anise seeds and sleeping on it will insure you have no nightmares.
Steam Distillation
50cm (20in)
24-45cm (10-18in)
Half Hardy
No less than the "father of medicine" himself, the fifth-century B.C. Greek physician Hippocrates, saluted the salutary effects of anise for relieving coughs. Four hundred years later, the Roman writer-philospher Pliny raved about anise's powers as a breath freshener, digestive aid, and all-around rejuvenating tonic. The Romans so loved this finest of the licorice-flavored herbs that they drank it in wines, ate it in cakes (a favorite being the royal mustaceus spice cake), and paid their taxes with it. By the fourteenth century, anise was so prized in Europe (where it wasn't even cultivated until the 1500s) that Britain placed an import tax on it. Anise is a staple food and spice ingredient in many European, East Indian, and Middle Eastern specialty dishes and the definitive ingredient in a variety of exotic alcoholic beverages, including Pernod, Anisette, and Ouzo. Commercially, oil made from the seeds is commonly added—in small amounts—to cough syrups, toothpastes, mouthwashes, gums, tobacco products and perfumes.
All white-flowered umbellifers (members of the family Apiaceae) must be accurately identified before use, because many look alike and a number are extremely poisonous.
Parts Used:
Leaves, Seeds, Oil (Young leaves, stems, and roots are added to salads, soups, and stews.)
Color and Odor:
Essential oil for both is clear with a hint of yellow. They both have a very anisic aroma with sweet undertones.
The essential oils of these two plants have very similar chemical compounds and medicinal properties. The are listed in most pharmacopoeias as acceptible substitutes for each other. Their aromas are virtually identical and they are used in the same manner.
Aniseed was known to the ancient Egyptians and used by them in bread-making; the Greeks and Romans followed suit and aniseed is still used for this purpose in Europe. Star Anise has long been used by the Chinese in cooking and medicine.
An important use of both Aniseed and Star Anise, is a corrector to unpleasant medicines.
Stimulant, expectorant, diuretic, antispasmodic, tonic.
A sweet, warming, stimulant herb that improves digestion, benefits the liver and circulation, and has expectorant and estrogenic effects. Traditionally regarded as an aphrodisiac.
The essential oil is best used in lower concentrations as it may cause irritation in sensitive people and may be over-stimulating.
  • Digestive Sytem—Helpful for flatulent, cholic and gripe-like pains of indigestion.
  • Urinary Sytem—Promotes urinary flow.
  • Respiratory System—Very useful for respiratory problems including bronchitis, and also spasmodic problems such as dry irritable coughs and whooping cough.
  • Reproductive Sytem—Calms menstrual cramps.
  • Emotions—Invigorates a tired mind.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for dry coughs, whooping cough, bronchitis, tracheitis, bronchial asthma, indigestion, gas, colic, and insufficient lactation. Externally for lice, scabies, and as a chest rub for bronchial complaints. Combines well with Mentha x piperita (See, Peppermint) for colic, Prunus serotina (See, Wild Black Cherry) for tracheitis, Lactuca spp. (See, Prickly Lettuce) for dry coughs; and with Lobelia inflata (See, Indian Tobacco), Marrubium vulgare, (See, Horehound), Symplocarpus foetidus (See, Skunk Cabbage) and Tussilago farfara (See, Coltsfoot) for bronchial complaints. Oil is often mixed with oil of Sassafras albidum (See, Sassafras) for skin parasites, and with oil of Eucalyptus globulus (See, Blue Gum) as a chest rub.

To treat flatulence, digestive disturbances, menstrual complaints, whooping cough, liver disease, the cold, fever, inflammation, and tuberculosis. Germany's Commision E has approved the use of anise to treat the common cold, cough, bronchitis, fevers, inflammation of the mouth and throat, loss of appetite, and dyspeptic complaints such as heartburn and bloating.
The essential oil derived from the seeds of this plant contains a high percentage of a compound called anethole, which imparts the licorice-like flavor. It possesses calming and antispasmodic properties, making it an ideal remedy for alleviating flatulence, intestinal colic, and bloating.
This sweet-tastin, richly aromatic herb has antibacterial, estrogenic, expectorant, restorative, and stimulating properties. Anise also aids digestion, promotes good circulation, enhances the libido, stimulates milk production in nursing mothers, and helps repair damaged livers. No wonder the Romans took it any way they could get it! And it's still one of the best natural breath fresheners. Traditional and contemporary herbalists frequently prescribe anise to relieve indigestion, flatulence, and nausea; to soothe dry, hacking coughs and bronchial congestion; and to ease intestinal cramping. Externally, anise oil may be used as a chest rub to relieve bronchitis symptoms, as well as to treat scabies.
Evidence of Benefit:
Anise is a secretagogue, and herb that stimulates the body to secrete fluids to clear out congestion and normalize digestion.
Benefits of anise for specific health conditions include the following:
  • Bad Breath: The seeds of this licorice-flavored herb have been used for thousands of years to freshen the breath. You can boil a few teaspoons of seeds in a cup of water for a few minutes, strain, and then drink or use as a mouthwash.
  • Breast-Feeding Problems: Anise is high in anethol, a compound with effects similar to those of estrogen. It has a reputation for increasing milk production in nursing mothers, promoting menstruation, and facilitating childbirth. It is also said to increase libido in women and men.
  • Colic: Anise seeds are an ingredient in paregoric, an opium mixture that is used to settle the stomach and was once commonly given to colicky babies. Unlike paregoric, anise seeds contain no opiates and has no potentially harmful sedative effect on the central nervous system. Anise also stops spasmodic flatulence and aids digestion.
  • Influenza, Sinusitis, and Other Respiratory Ailments: The essential oil in anise seeds stimulates secretions from the linings of the throat and lungs. Anise seed teas are particularly appropriate in cases of unproductive cough. Used as a cough suppressant, anise is an ingredient in many cough medicines and lozenges. It also gives them a better flavor. The Greeks use teas made from anise and fennel for asthma and other respiratory ailments. They both contain creosol and alpha-pinene, which help to loosen the bronchial secretions. As an expectorant, anise helps to loosen and get rid of phlegm in the respiratory tract.
Considerations for Use:
Anise is used as a tea. The essential oil is employed in aromatherapy, and the whole seeds are used in cooking. Aromatherapy with anise and foods prepared with anise (such as anise cookies) have the same but milder action as anise used as an herb.
You should avoid anise if you have an allergic and/or inflammatory skin condition. Large doses are narcotic and slow down the circulation. Use this herb in moderation only.
Typical Dosage:
A typical daily dose of anise is approximately 3gm combined with boiling water, allowed to steep, then strained.
Anise is available as whole or crushed seeds, and in oils, teas, and tinctures. To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of crushed seeds and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink up to 1½ cups a day, 2 tablespoons at a time.
Possible Side Effects:
No side effects are known when anise is taken in designated therapeutic doses. Allergic reactions to the herb may occur on rare occasions.
Anise oil is toxic in large amounts.
Drug Interactions:
Taking anise with these drugs may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising;
Abciximab, (ReoPro)
Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Enoxaparin, (Lovenox)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)
Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Indomethacin, (Indocin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Meloxicam, (MOBIC, Mobicox)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, Nu-Pirox)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Ticlopidine, (Alti-Ticlopidine, Ticlid)
Urokinase, (Abbokinase)
Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
Taking anise with these drugs may intefere with contraception and/or hormone replacement therapy:
Cyproterone and Ethinyl Estradiol, (Diane-35)
Estradiol, (Climara, Estrace)
Estradiol and Medroxyprogesterone, (Lunelle)
Estradiol and Norethindrone, (Activella, CombiPatch)
Estradiol and Testosterone, (Climacteron)
Estrogens (conjugated A/synthetic), (Cenestin)
Estrogens (conjugated/equine), (Congest, Premarin)
Estrogens (conjugates/equine) and medroxyprogesterone, (Premphase, Prempro)
Estrogens (esterified), (Estratab, Menest)
Estrogens (esterified) and Methyltestosterone, (Estratest, Estratest H.S.)
Estropipate, (Ogen, OrthoEst)
Ethinyl Estradiol, (Estinyl)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Desogestrel, (Cyclessa, Ortho-Cept)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Drospirenone, (Yasmin)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Ethynodiol Diacetate, (Demulen, Zovia)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Etonogestrel, (NuvaRing)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestral, (Alesse, Triphasil)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norelgestromin, (Ortho Evra, Evra)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone, (Brevicon, Ortho-Novum)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate, (Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen)
Ethinyl estradiol and Norgestrel, (Cryselle, Ovral)
Levonorgestrel, (Mirena, Plan B)
Medroxyprogesterone, (Depo-Provera, Provera)
Mestranol and Norethindrone, (Necon 1/50, Ortho-Novum 1/50)
Norgestrel, (Ovrette)
Polyestradiol, (Polyestradiol)
Taking anise with these drugs may interfere with the action of the drug:
Iproniazid, (Marsilid)
Moclobemide, (Alti-Moclobemide, Nu-Moclobemide)
Phenelzine, (Nardil)
Selegiline, (Eldepryl)
Tamoxifen, (Nolvadex, Tamofen)
Tranylcypromine, (Parnate)
Lab Test Alterations:
May increase blood pressure readings, heart rate, and pulse rate due to the catecholamine activity of its constituent anethole.
Disease Interactions:
  • This herb may have estrogen-like effects and should not be used by women with estrogen sensitive breast cancer or other hormone-sensative conditions.
  • Various skin conditions may be worsened if anise is applied to the skin.
Culinary Uses:
Fresh leaves are added to salads, vegetables, soups, and various cooked dishes in countries of origin. Seeds are used to flavor candy (especially aniseed balls), dried figs, cakes, bread, and curries.
Anise seeds and oil are used throughout Europe in drinks such as the French pastis, the Greek ouzo, and Turkish raki. Use the seeds whole or crushed, but for the best flavor grind them as you need them. Use them in bakery goods, confectionery, tomato-based dishes, vegetable and seafood dishes, curries, pickles, soups, and stews. Add the young leave sparingly to green salads, fish dishes, fruit salads, and cooked vegetables.
Economic Uses:
Seeds and oil form the basis of anise-flavored drinks, such as pastis, ouzo, raki, and arak, which turn milky when diluted with water, and liqueurs, such as anisette. Oil is also used in perfumery, tobacco, and pharmaceutical products.
Blends and Uses:
Anise 5 Anise 5 Anise 5
Rosemary 3 Cypress 4 Myrrh 4
Cardamom 3 Parsley 2 Pine 3

Anise 5 Anise 5
Chamomile (R) 4 Orange 4
Geranium 2 Lime 3

Indigestion, Flatulence and Bloating:
Relieves fullness and bloating

Anise helps to relieve the discomfort and pain of indigestion, and is particularly beneficial when wind or bloating are also present. Other aromatic herbs - such as Caraway, Dill, and Fennel can be used in the same way.

Grind up to 1 tsp (2 g) ripe anise seeds to release the essential oil before infusing them in boiling water. Drink up to 3 cups per day.
Aromatherapy Blends and recipes by Franzesca Watson Copyright © 1995 Thorsons, Harper Parker Publishing Inc. Pp 52-53
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pg. 317
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by George T. Grossberg, M.D. and Barry Fox, Ph.D. Copyright © 2007 by Barry Fox, Ph.D. pp. 41-43
The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs by Reader's Digest Copyright©2009 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Pp. 14,204
Prescription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch,CNC Copyright©2002 Phyllis A. Balch pp. 22-23
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp. 21-22