Benefits of star anise
. Star anise is the star shaped fruit of an evergreen plant known scientifically as Illicium verum. Originating in southern China star anise has a licorice or anise like flavor although it is not related to the true anise plants native to the Mediterranean basin and Middle East. Traditionally used as a spice and also as a healing herb star anise appears to have medicinal properties that endow it with significant health benefits.
Rich in Shikimic Acid
. Star anise is the primary source of shikimic acid a plant based compound that is the precursor to oseltamivir an antiviral medication that is marketed as Tamiflu according to an article in a 2011 issue of Alternative Medicine Studies. Although shikimic acid also occurs naturally in ginkgo and sweetgum fruit star anise has far greater concentrations. Italian researchers tested shikimic acid alone and in combination with quercetin an antioxidant rich plant based nutrient to see if they could bolster immune function to help fight off flu or other viral infections. Although shikimic acid on its own had little or no effect on immune function its combination with quercetin even at low doses appeared to help ramp up immune function to better resist viral infection. Researchers published their findings in the April 2008 issue of ?Journal of Medical Virology.
. When your body?s delicate balance of microbes is disturbed or your immune system is somehow weakened this yeast can grow unhindered and lead to serious infection known as candidiasis. South Korean researchers found that extracts and essential oils of star anise exhibited strong antifungal properties when tested against Candida albicans.
. The upsurge in bacterial infections that exhibit resistance to existing antibiotics has intensified the search for new agents that may prove more effective against these resistant strains of bacteria. Researchers in Taiwan tested four new antimicrobial compounds from star anise and found that they were effective against 67 strains of drug resistant bacteria.
. Antioxidants target free radicals atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons that can cause disease and cellular damage. Free radicals can damage cellular DNA and initiate carcinogenesis the beginnings of cancer. You can?t really avoid free radicals which are byproducts of your body?s metabolic processes but you can neutralize them by eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Indian researchers conducted an animal study to determine whether star anise?s antioxidant properties helped protect lab rats from artificially induced liver cancer.
Selection and storage
. Dry and ground anise in its powder form is readily available in the spice market year around. Choose anise seeds from organic herb stores for authenticity. Buy them in small quantities that would last for 3 4 months since the seeds tend to lose their flavor because of evaporation of essential oils. Fresh seeds should feature brilliant olive green to grey brown color and give rich aroma when squeezed between index and thumb fingers. Avoid seeds that have broken tips or those from old stocks as they indicate less in essential oils.
. Anise seed as well its oil?have found application in many traditional medicines for their distinctive health promoting and disease preventing roles.Anise seed as well its oil have found application in many traditional medicines for their distinctive health promoting and disease preventing roles.
. Anise seeds oil as well as fresh young leaves are used in cooking. The flavor is heightened by dry frying the seeds. Anise is used in savory and sweet dishes to which it imparts sweet aromatic flavor to variety of cuisines. The whole seeds and often times freshly grounded powder added to the recipes at the last moment to limit the evaporation of essential volatile oils in them.
. The star anise is botanically known as Illicium Verum. It is dark brown in colour with eight segments. It has a sweetish licorice taste. Besides its culinary uses star anise also has health benefits.
. Star anise is effective against several types of viruses including the herpes virus say researcher Paul Schnitzler and his colleagues from the University of Heidelburg Germany. Star anise works by preventing further viral replication. Shikimic acid is the ingredient extracted from Chinese star anise to make the drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu or Oseltamivir treats the influenza virus but does not work as a vaccination. It fights the virus once contracted.
. Anethole is an essential oil in star anise which gives it a licorice flavor. It is effective against some types of bacteria. Data published in the February 2002 edition of Phytotherapy Research showed the anethole isolated from star anise protective against some micro organisms. Anethole can prevent the growth of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. E. coli spread by contamination of food primarily affects the digestive system causing vomiting and diarrhea. Staphylococcus aureus found on food and some surfaces frequently infects the skin.
Anti Inflammatory Anti Oxidant Anti Fungal
. The chemical compound anethole as found in star anise has anti inflammatory properties according to information presented in the July 2005 journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. An experiment conducted with animals showed anethole compounds as effective as the anti inflammatory drug indometacin. Anethole is also an anti oxidant and will kill fungus. The anti fungal ability of star anise is powerful
Possible Side Effects
. Star anise is a traditional Asian remedy for colic in babies. The article suggests parents not give any star anise even in the form of tea to infants. Adults should be careful when drinking star anise tea and make sure it does not contain the Japanese variety. When using a plant for medicinal purposes it is advisable to consult a physician.
Cooking With Star Anise
. Star anise is a type of fruit. It grows in China Japan and many other countries in Asia. Due to its sweet taste and rich fragrance it is used as a cooking ingredient for flavoring curries and for pickling. It has an aniseed like flavor odor and taste.Star anise has many uses in the kitchen and out of it as well. The fruit is used to obtain a volatile oil which is colorless or pale yellow with an anise oil like odor and aromatic taste. The fatty oil obtained from the star anise fruit is used as a raw material in the production of soap. The fatty oil extracted from its fruit is also used as an edible oil. It is also used in making perfumes. In many countries it is also used as a mouth freshener. Star anise is an important ingredient in stews and curries.
. It can be applied externally for the treatment of many skin diseases. The fruit is helpful in digestion and is also used to prevent colic in babies. Star anise is also used to extract Shikimic Acid which is used for making antiviral medicines for the Tami flu and also for the prevention of avian influenza. In addition it is also used as a diuretic medicine. Star anise can also be used to cure stomach aches caused by the accumulation of intestinal gas. This versatile fruit also helps in preventing headaches and promoting good health and vitality.
How does it work
. Star anise seeds contain ingredients that might have activity against bacteria yeast and fungi. People try star anise for treating flu because it is a good source of shikimic acid which is used in the manufacture of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) a flu treatment. However there isn t any research showing that star anise has any activity against viruses such as the flu virus.
. Western cuisines have long used anise to flavor some dishes drinks and candies and the word is used for both the species of herb and its licorice like flavor. The most powerful flavor component of the essential oil of anise anethole is found in both anise and an unrelated spice called star anise (Illicium verum) widely used in South Asian Southeast Asian and East Asian dishes. Star anise is considerably less expensive to produce and has gradually displaced Pimpinella anisum in Western markets. While formerly produced in larger quantities
. Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak, Colombian aguardiente, French spirits absinthe, anisette and pastis, Greek ouzo, Bulgarian mastika, Macedonian, German J?germeister, Italian sambuca, Dutch Brokmopke, Portuguese, Peruvian and Spanish an?sado, Mexican Xtabent?n and Turkish rak?. In these liquors, it is clear, but on addition of water becomes cloudy, a phenomenon known as the ouzo effect. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgils in the United States.
Great source of minerals
. Star Anise have large dark green leaves and star shaped woody fruits that are made up of 8 separate carpels. Inside each of these carpels is a light brown seed. When steam distilled the seeds of the Star Anise have a strong liquorice like fragrance. As well as being used in perfumery the Star Anise is used as a spice to flavour foods such as baked goods chewing gum liqueurs brandies and meat products.
. There is no proven safe or effective dose for star anise. Products containing 5 10% of essential oil have been inhaled. Typical doses of star anise may include one cup of tea or 0.5 1 grams of the coarsely ground seed boiled in 150 milliliters water for 120 minutes and then straining. Ground star anise has been taken in a dose of 3 grams daily. The essential oil of star anise in a dose of 300 milligrams daily has also been reported.
. Anise is an annual herb from the family of Umbelliferae the family of plants like carrot fennel and parsnip. It has light green colored leafs and small white flowers. The plant requires a warm climate with a long frost free period.
Therapeutic Uses Benefits and Claims of Anise
. The anise seeds have been used since ancient times for their content of aromatic essential oil in traditional medicine for cosmetics alcoholic beverages like anisette arrack ouzo and raki and in cooking.The ripe seeds of anise contain about 2.5% of fragrant oil that is responsible for most of the beneficial effect associated with them. The oil consists mostly of antheole and its derivatives like diantheole and photoantheole.
Potential Side Effects of Anise
. Anise oil is not without side effects as large quantities used internally can cause nausea and vomiting seizures and even pulmonary edema. This is why pure anise oil should not be used internally as pulmonary edema has occurred after ingestion of such a small quantity as 1 5ml pure anise oil.
Star anise is a powerful antimicrobial
. Star anise is the world s greatest source of the shikimic acid compound which is also found in ginkgo ginger fennel and sweetgum fruit and is used by pharmaceutical companies to produce the anti flu medication Tamiflu. The shikimic acid combines with other components in star anise to act as a neuraminidase inhibitor which blocks an enzyme that facilitates the replication of viral particles from body cells.
Star anise is a great digestive aid
. Star anise also gets its distinctive sweet licorice flavor from a chemical compound called anethole. The anethole is helpful for digestion and improves symptoms of colic in babies and irritable bowel syndrome in adults. It is thought to activate enzymes within the body to improve the digestive process of proteins and fats. In this way it reduces gas and bloating and improves nutritional absorption.
Acts to improve hormone function in women
. The combination of compounds including diantheole and photoantheole in star anise also promote lactation in nursing mothers. They also increase libido and help reduce symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. However this herb should not be used during pregnancy due to its effect on female hormone levels and the potential for complications.
Star Anise Essential Oil
. Star Anise Essential Oil has an aroma similar to black licorice. Star Anise Oil can be useful in diffuser and inhaler blends intended to help ease bronchitis colds and the flu.Star Anise Oil may also be helpful in aromatherapy blends that are intended to help digestion and muscular aches or pains.
Medical Uses of Star Anise
. Star anise is prescribed as a digestive aid and to help cure colic in babies. More recently Shikimic Acid extracted from star anise is one of the chief ingredients in the antiviral Tamiflu drug used to fight avian influenza.
Purchasing Storage and Preparation
. Star anise is available in packages in Asian supermarkets. When purchasing star anise, look for whole pieces that arent broken. At home, store star anise in a sealed container in a cool dark place. Properly stored, star anise will last for several months. Discard once the flavor fades.star anise is usually added whole (not broken into pieces) and discarded before serving. Occasionally, you may find stir fry recipes calling for ground star anise.
Get rid of Oily skin
. Anise will get rid of oily skin improve your memory calm a cough produce breast milk and serve as a natural antacid in place of either Tums or Rolaids for heartburn and indigestion. Simply bring a quart (~liter) of water to a boil add 7 teaspoons of dried Anise. Reduce heat and simmer to about one and a half pints strain and add four teaspoons each of honey and Glycerin (used to preserve syrup tea). Take two teaspoons of this syrup every few hours to relieve hacking coughs; two tablespoons three times daily to enhance memory. As a tea omit honey and glycerin drink two cups once or twice daily for skin problems lactation and stomach problems.
. Shikimic acid a primary feedstock used to create the anti flu drug Tamiflu is produced by most autotrophic organisms but star anise is the industrial source.
. Some glossary noted this star anise extract can have potent antioxidant and antibacterial properties but its fragrant component makes this a potential skin irritant and it can cause photosensitivity.
. Anise contains some compounds that are estrogenic (anethole similar to estrogen female hormone) and promotes menstruation facilitating childbirth increasing libido in women and oddly enough some people have reported androgenic (male hormone) effects as well. Its worth the try after all it has a reputation for increasing the male libido.
. Anise is used internally for whooping cough flatulence coliclike pain as a digestive for menstruation disturbances liver disease and tuberculosis.
Star Anise is very versatile
. Star Anise is very versatile and works well in baked goods chilled desserts sauces soups stews and with red meats. Best when used as an accent flavor as a single point can add wonderful layers of complex flavor and aroma which makes it a favorite secret ingredient of both professional and home chefs. Be careful not to use too much as it can easily overpower.
Boil star anise
. Boil star anise whole when using in most broths and soups. The Gourmet website recommends using two whole star anise pods in French onion soup to add a subtle sweetness.
Star Anise vs Anise
. Star anise is sometimes confused with standard anise or Pimpinella anisum or the plants are thought to be closely related. In fact anise plants are a small wispy green plant resembling dill with tiny white flowers. The plants are not closely related (though both are native to Southwest Asia) but are compared to one another because the flavoring imparted by their seeds is remarkably similar. This is because both plants contain the organic compound anethole a natural oil that flavors both these plants as well as fennel licorice and basil.
Star Anise Fruit
. The star used commonly as an herb is the fruit of the Illicium verum. A hollow woody shell shaped like an eight armed star protects large bean like seeds. The fruit is harvested just before it ripens to prevent the release of seeds. Before the fruit matures it is soft and light green with slighty reddish brown tips.
The Anise Plant
. Star anise comes from a small evergreen tree that is native to China. For this reason it s often known as a Chinese anise though it s scientific name is Illicium verum. This tree has spade shaped leaves with a slightly waxy texture and its flowers may be red or white. When farmed it grows to about the size of a large rose bush.
Substitute for Star Anise
. A good substitute for star anise is one which has a similar flavor profile to that of the original spice.While looking for a viable star anise alternative you should keep in mind the kind of dish you are preparing. If you are preparing a clear soup then you need to add just one or two whole star anise while cooking the stock. This is because star anise has a very strong flavor and if you put too much of it into the soup it will overwhelm the other flavors and make the soup too pungent in taste. On the other hand when you are cooking something hearty like a braised pork or beef brisket you need the warm and spicy notes of star anise to lift the flavors of the dish and make it more tasty. Here ground star anise is used that has a more concentrated flavor.
Chinese Five Spice Powder
. A good ground star anise substitute for such meat dishes with a gravy base is Chinese five spice powder. Chinese five spice powder is made by mixing five spices; and they are szechuan peppercorn powder cinnamon powder ground star anise ground cloves and ground fennel seeds in a definite proportion. As the Chinese five spice powder already contains ground star anise as one of its ingredients it makes a very good substitute for star anise.
. Star anise is the industrial source of shikimic acid a primary ingredient used to create the antiflu drug Tamiflu (Goodman 2005). Tamiflu is regarded as the most promising drug to mitigate the severity of the bird flu H5N1 strain of virus. Currently Tamiflu is the only drug available which may reduce the severity of bird flu (also known as avian flu).
Medicinal and Pharmacological properties
. Star anise essential oil I. verum is often used as a substitute for anise seed oil in perfumery because it shares similar chemistry. It is used in aromatherapy to help relieve coughing colic cramping hiccups and indigestion. It should be used in moderation to avoid skin irritation.
. Chinese star anise is an evergreen bush of the magnolia order grown in Vietnam and southern China. The ripe strongly anisesmelling fruits open up in a star.
. Anise essential oil may help loosen mucus and speed healing in bronchial infections and its muscle relaxing effects make it useful for relieving coughs according to CoxHealth. In the digestive system anise relaxes muscles that line the intestinal tract and helps relieve indigestion.
Health Benefits of Anise Essential Oil
. Anti epileptic & Anti hysteric: Since anise essential oil has a narcotic and sedative effect it can calm down epileptic and hysteric attacks by slowing down circulation respiration and nervous response if administered in higher dosages. This is contrary to its stimulating and cordial properties which are shown when administered in lower dosages. It is found effective in sedating nervous afflictions hyper reactions and convulsions as well.
. This oil can give relief from rheumatic and arthritic pains by stimulating blood circulation and by reducing the sensation of pain in the affected areas.
. This essential oil also has antiseptic properties and give wounds an effective protective layer against infections and sepsis. This aids in the faster healing of wounds.
. Situations or ailments caused by spasms are cramps coughs aches diarrhea nervous afflictions and convulsions. Spasms are an excessive contraction of the respiratory tracts muscles nerves blood vessels and internal organs that result in severe coughs cramps convulsions obstructed blood circulations aches in the stomach and chest and other symptoms. The essential oil of anise being a relaxant and an anti spasmodic by nature relax these contractions and give relief from the ailments mentioned above.
. This oil has mild purgative properties but is safe to use. Unlike other synthetic or harsh purgatives it is not hard on the stomach and liver and does not leave you exhausted and fatigued. When taken in low dosages it helps clear motions and cures constipation resultant flatulence and indigestion.
. Only those who are suffering from gas know what a relief it is to get rid of it. Gas is not funny at all. It is a very serious ailment and must be treated in a timely manner. It gives rise to indigestion flatulence acute chest pain stomach aches muscular cramps and pains rheumatism in the long run heaviness hypertension and even problems like hair loss and reduction of eyesight if it becomes chronic. Anise essential oil promotes the removal of gases and as a digestive it does not let it form as indigestion is the cause of excess gas.
. The warming effect of this oil on the respiratory and the circulatory systems makes it a cordial. This property helps counter colds the deposition of phlegm and problems like rheumatism and arthritis.
. This oil of anise is very effective in clearing congestion in the lungs and the respiratory tracts for conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
. This property of anise and anise essential oil is very commonly used to promote digestion. It has been an old practice to chew Anise seeds to serve desserts containing Anise or to have a glass of warm water with few drops of anise essential oil in it to aid digestion especially after a heavy meal or a feast.
. This oil is really remarkable as an expectorant and this property earned it an impressive reputation. It loosens mucus or phlegm deposited in the lungs and respiratory tracts and gives relief from cough heaviness in the chest breathing troubles asthma bronchitis congestion and other respiratory disorders. Due to the presence of this essential oil in the seeds the seeds are used for smoking to loosen catarrh or phlegm.
. The essential oil of anise is toxic to insects and smaller animals therefore its smell keeps insects away. For this reason this oil can be employed to drive away insects by using it in fumigants vaporizers and sprays.
. It is used as a sedative for anxiety nervous afflictions depression anger and stress as well as for symptoms such as insomnia due to its tranquilizing and relaxing effects. This effect is particularly visible when it is used in higher dosages since in very small doses it acts as a stimulant. However the utmost care should be taken while administering it in heavy doses keeping in view its narcotic effects.
. The stimulating property of anise essential oil can benefit us in the following ways. It can stimulate circulation and give relief from rheumatism and arthritis stimulate secretion of enzymes and hormones thus boosting the whole metabolism and finally it can stimulate the nervous system and the brain to make us more active and alert.
. This is yet another aspect of its insecticidal property. It can kill worms found in the intestines. This property can be particularly beneficial for children as they are most commonly afflicted with intestinal worms.
A Few Words of Caution
. In heavy doses it has narcotic effects and slows down respiration and circulation. It is poisonous to certain small animals and birds and therefore children should not be given high doses. Furthermore it may cause irritation to certain skin types. It is best to avoid it during pregnancy. It may also aggravate certain types of cancers caused due to its effect on the estrogen hormone.
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