What Is Anise?

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Supplements Herbal Supplements What Is Anise? This herb may help ease menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms By Cathy Wong Cathy Wong Facebook Twitter Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 13, 2022 Medically reviewed by Lana Butner, ND, LAc Medically reviewed by Lana Butner, ND, LAc Facebook LinkedIn Lana Butner, ND, LAc, is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in New York City. Learn about our Medical Expert Board Print Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is Anise Used For? Possible Side Effects Selection, Preparation, and Storage Frequently Asked Questions Anise is an herb (Pimpinella anisum) that has a long history of use as a medicinal aid. Anise seed, anise oil, and—less frequently—the root and the leaf, are used to make medicine to treat digestive issues and other problems. According to some sources, anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C. Anise is also commonly used to flavor foods, beverages, candies, and breath fresheners, and it is often used as a fragrance in soap, creams, perfumes, and sachets. You may be familiar with its licorice-like taste and scent. Also Known As Anise is known by several different names, including:Anis vertAniseedAnisi fructusGraine d’Anis vertAnise is not the same as star anise, even though the names sound similar. What Is Anise Used For? Research on the health effects of anise is fairly limited. Certain chemicals in anise may have estrogen-like effects and impact menstrual and menopause symptoms. Here’s a look at several findings on the potential health benefits of anise extract. Menstrual Pain A combination of anise extract, saffron, and celery seed may help alleviate menstrual pain, according to a study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health in 2009. For the study, 180 female students (ages 18 to 27) were split into three groups: one group received the anise/saffron/celery seed mixture, one group received mefenamic acid (a type of anti-inflammatory drug), and one group received a placebo. Starting from the onset of their menstrual bleeding or pain, each group took their assigned treatment three times a day for three days. After following the participants for two to three menstrual cycles, the study authors found that those assigned to the anise/saffron/celery seed combination experienced a significantly greater reduction in menstrual pain compared to those assigned the other two treatments. Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps Hot Flashes In a study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research in 2012, researchers found that anise may help relieve hot flashes in women going through menopause. The study included 72 postmenopausal women, each of whom took either anise extract or potato starch in capsule form daily for four weeks. Compared to the control group, those treated with anise extract had a significantly greater reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. Natural Menopause Symptom Treatments Digestive Issues Taking a combination of anise, fennel, elderberry, and senna may help ease constipation, suggests a small study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2010. In a clinical trial that included 20 patients with chronic constipation who were treated for a five-day period, researchers found that the anise-containing herbal combination was significantly more effective than placebo in increasing the number of evacuations per day. The authors noted that the herbal combination may help fight constipation by producing a laxative effect. Natural Remedies for IBS Other Uses Anise is used in herbal medicine as a natural remedy for the following health problems: Asthma Cough Diabetes Gas Insomnia Neurological disorders (such as epilepsy) Upset stomach Anise is also said to stimulate the appetite, increase the flow of milk in lactating women, promote menstruation, and enhance libido. When applied topically (i.e., directly to the skin), anise extract is thought to aid in the treatment of conditions like lice and psoriasis. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to know if anise can provide relief or aid in the treatment of any of these conditions. Possible Side Effects Anise is likely safe when consumed in amounts typically found in food. There is not enough evidence to know if anise is safe when used medicinally. You may experience an allergic reaction to anise if you have an allergy to a related plant such as asparagus, caraway, celery, coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the use of medicinal anise because there is not enough scientific evidence to know if it is safe for them. Anise may have estrogen-like effects, so there’s some concern that the use of anise supplements may be potentially harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as hormone-dependent cancers (breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Anise may also interact with certain medications including birth control pills, estrogen, and tamoxifen. Speak to your healthcare provider before consuming anise if you are taking these or any other medications. Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak Selection, Preparation, and Storage You’ll find anise in almost any grocery store, generally in the spice aisle. Anise seed is sold whole or ground. Many Middle Eastern, Italian, German, and Indian recipes call for it. Store anise like you do other spices: in an airtight container and away from heat and light. Whole seeds usually last three to four years. Ground anise seed usually lasts two to three years. You can purchase anise extract or anise oil for medicinal use in many natural-foods stores and shops specializing in dietary supplements, as well as online. Read labels carefully. Star anise oil—which is from a completely different herb—is also commonly sold and may be labeled as anise oil. To ensure you are purchasing anise, look for a product that specifies Pimpinella anisum or anise seed on its label. (Tip: If the bottle has a star-shaped brown fruit on its label, it is likely sourced from star anise.) Also, keep in mind that supplements like anise are largely unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to government standards, it is illegal to market a dietary supplement as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. But these products are not tested by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances. Some consumers look for products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), or NSF International. These organizations don’t guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide a certain level of quality assurance. Frequently Asked Questions Are anise and licorice related? Anise’s flavor is often described as being similar to black licorice, but licorice and anise do not come from the same plant. However, black licorice candy is traditionally flavored with anise, not licorice root, as some naturally assume. Learn More: Benefits of Licorice Root Is anise just another word for fennel? No, although it’s common for recipes or grocery store signs to use the terms interchangeably. The confusion is not surprising. Anise and fennel taste similar and are both in the parsley family, but they’re from different plants. While anise seeds are used in cooking, fennel seeds, leaves, and bulbs are all edible. Learn More: Use Fennel to Relieve Menstrual Cramps Is anise good for people with diabetes? Anise (Pimpinella anisum) may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar and lower their risk of heart disease. In studies, the herb helped reduce hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hyperlipidemia (high fats in your blood). Learn More: Supplements for Diabetes 1 Source Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Pereira ASP, Banegas-Luna AJ, Peña-García J, Pérez-Sánchez H, Apostolides Z. Evaluation of the anti-diabetic activity of some common herbs and spices: providing new insights with inverse virtual screening. Molecules. 2019;24(22):4030. doi:10.3390%2Fmolecules24224030 Additional Reading Abdul-Hamid M, Gallaly SR. Ameliorative effect of Pimpinella anisum oil on immunohistochemical and ultrastuctural changes of cerebellum of albino rats induced by aspartame. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2014 May;38(3):224-36. doi:10.3109/01913123.2014.889259 Ghoshegir SA, Mazaheri M, Ghannadi A, et al. Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2015;20(1):13–21. Karimzadeh F, Hosseini M, Mangeng D, et al. Anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of Pimpinella anisum in rat brain. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Jun 18;12:76. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-76 Lee JB, Yamagishi C, Hayashi K, Hayashi T. Antiviral and immunostimulating effects of lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes from Pimpinella anisum. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2011;75(3):459-65. doi:10.1271/bbb.100645 Mosaffa-Jahromi M, Tamaddon A, Afsharypuor S, et al. Effectiveness of Anise Oil for Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016;22(1):41-46. doi:10.1177/2156587216628374 Nahidi F, Kariman N, Simbar M, Mojab F. The Study on the Effects of Pimpinella anisum on Relief and Recurrence of Menopausal Hot Flashes. Iran J Pharm Res. 2012 Fall;11(4):1079-85. Nahid K, Fariborz M, Ataolah G, Solokian S. The effect of an Iranian herbal drug on primary dysmenorrhea: a clinical controlled trial. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2009 Sep-Oct;54(5):401-4. doi:10.1016/j.jmwh.2008.12.006 Picon PD, Picon RV, Costa AF, et al. Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Apr 30;10:17. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-17 Samojlik I, Mijatović V, Petković S, Skrbić B, Božin B. The influence of essential oil of aniseed (Pimpinella anisum, L.) on drug effects on the central nervous system. Fitoterapia. 2012 Dec;83(8):1466-73. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2012.08.012 Shojaii A, Abdollahi Fard M. Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents of Pimpinella anisum. ISRN Pharm. 2012; 2012:510795. doi:10.5402%2F2012%2F510795 By Cathy Wong Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Medical Expert Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit

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