Top 12 Health Benefits of Star Anise

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Star anise facts and benefits

Star Anise Quick Facts
Name: Star Anise
Scientific Name: Illicium verum
Origin Northeast Vietnam and southwest China
Colors Rich brown colour
Shapes Eight pointed star
Taste Sweet taste
Health benefits Women’s health Beneficial for Colds, Flus and Other Respiratory Ailments, Stimulates Pancreas, Women’s health, Good for Heart Health, Improved Digestion, Good for Cough, Beneficial for sleep disorders, Effective in flu treatment, Fights against bacteria, Combats fungal infections, Rheumatism and joint pain, Fights against free radicals
Illicium verum, commonly known as Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise is a spice that closely looks like anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum. It is a medium-sized native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening and are dried before use. Traditionally used as a spice and also as a healing herb, star anise appears to have medicinal properties that provide it with significant health benefits. It is important to note that you should only use the Chinese variety as there are concerns regarding the toxicity of Japanese star anise.

Star anise tastes much like a standard anise seed, but slightly bitterer, which is why some chefs use it to provide a licorice flavor for some dishes. Some people think that star anise and anise seed are the same. While both spices contain an essential oil called anethole, their similarities end here. For starters, anise seed belongs to the Apiaceae family and star anise comes from the Schisandraceae family. Anise seed is used more in Western dishes, particularly in Greek and French cuisine, since it has an intense, aromatic flavor that’s good for sauces. On the other hand, star anise is more common in Asian cooking. The spice is added whole to dishes to let its flavor infuse your cooking, or ground and added more sparingly.

Plant

Star Anise is an evergreen medium sized tree, 8-15 (-20) m tall and a diameter of 25 cm with a straight rounded trunk and green, glabrous branchlets. Stem is erect, round and grooved and branched above. The bark is white to bright grey and straight rounded trunk. Leaves are 10-15 cm long, 2.5 – 5 cm broad, alternate, simple, leathery, often clustered 3-4 together at the end of branches. Flowers are large, bisexual, 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white-pink to red or greenish-yellow, axillary and solitary. Fruits are star shaped, reddish brown consisting of 6-8 carpels arranged in a whorl. Each carpel is 10 mm long, boat shaped, hard and wrinkled containing a seed. Seeds are brown, compressed, ovoid, smooth, shiny and brittle with high oil content and anise-like smell. It has characteristic licorice, anise-like flavor and sweet taste. The plant normally prefers warm, subtropical climate and grows well in humus- and compost-rich soil, with a texture that’s both loamy and well-drained.

History

It is a native of Egypt, Greece, Crete and Asia Minor and was grown by the ancient Egyptians, to China; star anise is today grown almost exclusively in southern China, Indo-China. It was well known to the Greeks, being mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny and was cultivated in Tuscany in Roman times. In the middle Ages its cultivation spread to Central Europe. It was first introduced into Europe in the seventeenth century(1600S).The oil, produced by a process of steam extraction, is substituted for European aniseed in commercial drinks.

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Health benefits of Star Anise

Star anise is a well-known digestive aid and used to relieve cramps, indigestion, gas bloating and indigestion.  Star anise seeds are abundant source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, niacin and riboflavin and known to increase neuro-chemicals in the brain. It is enriched with anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin- A and vitamin-C. Listed below are some of the health benefits of Star Anise

1. Fights against free radicals

Antioxidants fight against free radicals that may cause cellular damage and may be responsible for diseases like diabetes, heart problems or even cancer. It is continually being produced in our body as a metabolic byproduct. The excessive production and deposition can be neutralized only by consuming a rich source of antioxidants. Reports from India and abroad have shown a powerful antioxidant property of star anise. The antioxidant property is due to the presence of a chemical called linolool. Vitamin A and C also contributes to this property to a large extent.

2. Rheumatism and joint pain

When applied topically, star anise essential oil is an excellent treatment for rheumatism and back pain. Before using the essential oil it should be combined with carrier oil and massaged into the affected areas.

3. Combats fungal infections

 Star anise is quite beneficial for dealing with common problem of skin called candidiasis, caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus usually affects superficial skin, mouth, throat or even the genital areas. It was observed by some Korean researchers that Star anise essential oil and some extracts of star anise possess powerful antifungal property.

4. Fights against bacteria

Star anise as an antibacterial agent has also been tested by many researchers and its oil has been found to be effective in declining cough due to asthma and bronchitis due to its expectorant property. Apart from that, star anise has been shown to be effective against almost 70 drug resistant bacterial strains.

5. Effective in flu treatment

Star anise is a good source of Shikimic acid and has a powerful antiviral property when it combines with another compound, quercetin, an antioxidant rich substance. Combination of these two chemicals helps to prevent influenza. In China and Taiwan, scientists are researching this combination for bird flu treatment.

6. Beneficial for sleep disorders

According to traditional use and circumstantial evidence, star anise has mild sedative properties which can help your nerves to settle down and also ensure a good night’s sleep. If you are having difficulty getting to sleep, try a cup of soothing star anise tea before going to bed. It is one of the wonderful treatments for sleeping difficulty.

7. Good for Cough

Star anise tea is one of the excellent natural remedy to ease a cough and soothe your sore throat. Simply prepare the tea and drink up to three times each day.

8. Improved Digestion

Star anise is often prepared as a tea particularly in South East Asian countries and China. It is mainly used to deal with a variety of digestive complaints such as gas, abdominal cramps, indigestion, bloating and constipation. To treat any digestive condition that you may be suffering from, it is considered best to drink the tea after your meals.

9. Good for Heart Health

Star anise oil helps to maintain blood pressure level. It cuts down the pressure on the heart. Additionally, since the oil is detoxifying, it improves blood flow as well as keeps the heart healthy and balanced. The oil rejuvenates the heart and also keeps it lively.

10. Women’s health

Star anise has traditionally been used in China to help women during pregnancy and to new mothers wanting to increase their milk production. Traditional Chinese practitioners often recommend it for pregnant women.

It is used to boost their immune system and stave off illness during this important time. Researchers have also found that star anise had an estrogenic effect owing to a compound called anethole which helps to modulate hormonal functions in women.

11. Stimulates Pancreas

For the control of the insulin plus some hormones, pancreas is a crucial organ. Anise seeds assist to encourage the pancreas. You’ve got decreased chance for diabetes along with other hormonal difficulties once your pancreas is within great health.

12. Beneficial for Colds, Flus and Other Respiratory Ailments

If you are prone to getting sick as soon as the cold season starts, then you will love star anise tea. It is a warm herb that has been traditionally used to help bring relief to the colds and respiratory congestions that keep you down. This is a tea that fights bacteria and viruses that are at the source of colds and flus and it helps to treat asthma, coughs, lung inflammation and bronchitis.

Other Traditional uses and benefits

  • Star anise has been used in a tea as a traditional remedy for rheumatism.
  • Seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.
  • Star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, according to Traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Consuming star anise tea after meals helps treat digestive ailments such as bloating, gas, indigestion and constipation.
  • Drinking one glass of water infused with the crushed seeds of star anise at night can increase one’s sex drive!
  • It is known as a stimulant and expectorant that helps relieve flatulence and increase libido.
  • It is applied topically as a remedy for head lice and acne.

How to Eat

  • It is used in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano.
  • It is also used in the production of sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe.
  • Star anise enhances the flavor of meat.
  • It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is widely used in Chinese cuisine and in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisine.

Other Facts

  • The star anise plant has decorative purposes too, especially in tropical climates, because of its small, scented flowers and fragrant leaves.
  • Don’t confuse with Japanese star anise, which is poisonous and should not be taken.
  • The oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and toothpaste, and to mask undesirable odors in drug products.

Star Anise Facts

Star anise is a star-shaped spice which is of a rich brown color with eight corners. It tastes much similar to the anise, however, a little bitter. Its scientific name is Illicium Verum which originates from the Latin word Illicio. This herbaceous spice has got some kind of very effective anti-bacterial agents that will make your seasonal infections disappear over time. In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is prescribed as a digestive aid, promoting health of female reproductive organs and for lactating mothers to increase breast-milk secretion.

Name Star anise
Scientific Name Illicium verum
Native Northeast Vietnam and southwest China
Common Names Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise, badiam
Name in Other Languages English: Badian anise, Chinese anise, Chinese star-anise, Indian anise, Star Anise, staranise tree
Bulgarian: Anason zvezdoviden, Anason zvezdoviden (Анасон звездовиден)
Catalan: Anís estrellat
Chinese: Bājiǎo (八角), Bājiǎo huíxiāng (八角茴香), Mà jiǎo (唛角), Dà huíxiāng (大茴香)
Croatian: Zvjezdasti anis
Czech: Badyán, Badyáník, Hvězdicový anýz, Čínský anýz
Danish: Stjerne Anis, Stjerneanis
Dutch: Steranijs, Adas China
Esperanto: Ilicio, Stelanizo
Estonian: Harilik tähtaniisipuu
Finnish: Rusotähtianis, Tähtianis
French: Anis de la Chine, Anis étoilé, Badiane, Anis de Sibérie, Badiane, Badiane de Chine, Badianier, Fenouil de Chine.
Galician: Anis Estrelado
German: Badian, Echter Sternanis, Sternanis, Sternanisbaum
Hindi: Anasphal, Badayan, anaasaphal (अनासफल), Chakra Phool
Hungarian: Csillagánizs, Kínai ánizs
Icelandic: Stjörnuanís
Indonesian: Adas cina, Bunga lawing, Pe ka
Italian: Anice stellato, Anice della China, Badiana
Japanese: Daiuikyo, Hakkaku, Suta-anisu, Dai ui kyō (だいういきょう), Sutāanisu (スターアニス), Daiuikyou (ダイウイキョウ), Hakkaku (ハッカク), Ōuikyō (大茴香)
Kazakh: Bäden, Bäden (Бәден)
Khmer: Phka cann, Poch kak lavhak, innish Tähtianis
Korean: a-ni-seu-seu-ta, Anisu-suta, dae-hoe-hyang, e-ni-seu-ta, Eni-suta, o-hyang, Ohyang, seu-ta-a-ni-seu, eu-ta-a-ni-ssi-deu, Suta-anissidu, Suta-anusu, Tae-hoehyang, daehoehyang (대회향), seutaaniseu (스타아니스), seutaanissideu (스타아니씨드), aniseuseuta (아니스스타), aeniseuta (에니스타), ohyang (오향)
Latin: Fructus Anisi stellate
Latvian: Badjans
Lithuanian: Badijonas, Kinijos anyžius, Tikrasis žvaigždanyžis, Žvaigždanyžiai
Malay: Adas china, Bunga lawang
Norwegian: Stjerneanis
Persian: Bádián-i-khatai
Polish: Anyż gwiazdkowaty, Badian
Portuguese: Anis Estrelado, Estrela-de-anis, anis-da-China
Romanian: Anason stelat, Anason în formă de stea, Badian
Russian: Bad’ân, Badyan, Zvezdchatyj anis, Zvezdčatyj anis, Bad’yan  (Бадьян), Zvezdchatyy anis (Звездчатый анис), zvezdchatyy anis (звездчатый анис)
SERBIAN : Japansko anisovo.
Slovak: Anízovec pravý, Badián, Badyán, Bedrovník anízový, Hviezdicový aníz, Anízovca pravého, Badiánu
Slovenian: Zvezdasti janež, Zvezdni janez      
Spanish: Anís estrella, Badiana, Badián, Anís de China, Anís de la China, Anís estrellado, Badián
Swedish: Stjärnanis, Stjaernanis
Tagalog: anis, Sanke, Sanque
Tamil: Anisu, aņīcu, Aṉīcu (அனீசு), Anas pu.
Thai: Chan tanat paetklip, Poikak, Chan tanat paetklip, Chinpaetklip, Dok chan, Poikak, Poy kak bua, Aṉīcu (จันทน์แปดกลีบ), Pó ykạ́k (โป๊ยกั๊ก)
Turkish: Yıldız anasonu, Çin anasonu, Anason tchini.
Vietnamese: Bat giac huong, Bát giác hương, Cai hoi, Cái hồi, dai-hoi, Hoi, Hoi huong, Hồi, Hồi hương
Plant Growth Habit Medium evergreen tree
Growing Climate Warm, subtropical climate
Soil Humus- and compost-rich, with a texture that’s both loamy and well-drained.
Plant Size 8-15 (-20) m tall and a diameter of 25 cm.
Root Thin and fusiform
Stem Erect, round and grooved and branched above
Bark White to bright grey
Trunk Straight rounded trunk
Branchlets Green, glabrous branchlets
Leaf 10-15 cm long, 2.5 – 5 cm broad, alternate, simple, leathery, often clustered 3-4 together at the end of branches
Flower Large, bisexual, 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white-pink to red orgreenish-yellow, axillary and solitary.
Fruit Shape & Size Shaped like an eight pointed star
Fruit Color Rich brown colour
Flavor/Aroma Characteristic licorice, anise-like flavor
Taste Sweet taste
Health Benefits
  • Women’s health
  • Beneficial for Colds
  • Flus and Other Respiratory Ailments
  • Stimulates Pancreas
  • Good for Heart Health
  • Improved Digestion
  • Good for Cough
  • Beneficial for sleep disorders
  • Effective in flu treatment
  • Fights against bacteria
  • Combats fungal infections
  • Rheumatism and joint pain
  • Fights against free radicals
Traditional Medicinal uses
  • Some people inhale star anise to treat respiratory tract congestion.
  • It can be applied externally for the treatment of many skin diseases.
  • This versatile fruit also helps in preventing headaches and promoting good health and vitality.
  • It is usually recommended for nursing mothers to increase breast milk production.
  • Star anise can serve as a tranquillizer or an appetizer.
  • It can also be used as a diuretic drug.
  • It can be used for boosting the health of female reproductive organs.
    It has a carminative influence on the nervous system.
How to Eat
  • It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup.
  • It is used in a variety of dishes from beverages to deserts and savory stews.
  • It is used to flavor an entire pot of stew or soup.
  • It is featured in various popular Chinese chicken and beef dishes, Chinese soups, stocks and marbled eggs.
  • Whole star anise is used to flavor marinades, soups and teas.
  • The fruit is used as a flavoring and is also chewed after meals in order to sweeten the breath.
Other Facts
  • It is also commonly used as a fragrance in natural cosmetics, soaps and toothpastes.
  • The fragrant wood is used for construction and furniture.
Precautions
  • Reported side effects of Japanese star anise include nausea. Vomiting, seizures, restless jitters and rapid eye movement.
  • It is possibly unsafe for use for new and expectant mothers and should be avoided unless under your doctor’s supervision.
  • Star anise tea should not be drunk by people with ovarian, breast or uterine cancer.
 

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