Many know anise seed — known traditionally as Pimpinella anisum — because of its licorice-like flavor and scent used in baking and soaps. In fact, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used anise seed and its fragrant essential oil anethole to make scented oils, soaps, teas, cakes and pastries. Eventually, the health benefits were realized and they began incorporating the seed and essential oil into traditional medicines. Here are 13 reasons to use anise seed for medicinal purposes.
1. It improves digestion
Anise seeds are extremely therapeutic for the digestive system. If you experience mild indigestion, flatulence and bloating after meals, try chewing on raw anise seeds or steeping them in hot water. Additionally, anise seeds are thought to relieve nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
2. It’s antimicrobial
While anise seeds are not a cure for infectious diseases, the essential oils, vitamin C and antioxidants are useful for destroying a wide range of pathogens. Ethanol extracts of aniseed have been shown to inhibit bacteria significantly, says research conducted at Tehran University of Medical Science.
Iraq’s University of Mosul tested essential oils for resistance against several harmful strains of bacteria, including staph, e. coli and salmonella. Researchers found that the essential oil from anise seed demonstrated the highest resistance to bacteria.
3. It reduces menopausal hot flashes
In a double-blind clinical trial, postmenopausal women took three capsules of anise extract (each capsule contained 100 milligrams of extract) for four weeks. The study concluded that anise extract used for menopausal hot flashes lead to a significant reduction in hot flash frequency and intensity.
4. It aids oral health
Anise seed can also help manage good oral hygiene thanks to its antimicrobial properties. It works well as a natural component for homemade mouthwash, helping eliminate bad breath and gingivitis.
5. It has antiviral effects
Anise and fennel seeds were both studied for their antiviral and immune stimulating properties. Research shows that these properties may help protect against herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, human cytomegalovirus, and measles virus according to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
6. It fights candida
Patients who undergo antibiotic or immune-system-suppressing therapies often experience chronic urinary infection of candida. To combat this, one of the best medicinal uses for anise seed came via the Immunology Research Institute and Clinic in Nagoya, Japan.
In 2010, the institute conducted a study that involved 39 patients who suffered from chronic yeast infections. The natural, plant-based compound demonstrated a significant resistance to fungus, which could offer an effective approach for yeast infections.
7. It’s an anti-inflammatory and provides pain relief
The essential oil extracted from anise seed also has significant anti-inflammatory properties and provides pain relief comparable to taking 100 milligrams of aspirin and 10 milligrams of morphine, according to research published in the U.S. Library of Medicine. This is good news for anyone who suffers with rheumatism, arthritis and joint pain.
8. It helps migraines and headaches
Anise healing properties can be obtained through a paste. For relief of migraines and headaches apply a paste made from the seeds to the forehead, neck or temples.
9. It relieves lice and scabies
Similar to the paste used for migraines and headaches, this natural remedy can be used on the skin to treat lice and scabies.
10. It kills fungus
Research conducted at The University of Mississippi’s School of Pharmacy assessed various plant extracts for their resistance to fungus and found that anise seed was the best at inhibiting fungal activity.
11. It relieves nausea
Anise seed essential oil may also work to reduce symptoms of nausea. In a case study, published in the International Journal of Aromatherapy, 25 patients suffering from the symptoms of nausea in a hospice and palliative care program were administered an aromatherapy treatment containing Pimpinella anisum. The majority of the patients using the aromatherapy treatments reported relief.
12. It increases sex drive
Anise seed also has aphrodisiac properties that may increase libido, according to herbwisdom.com. Drink one glass of anise seed-infused water each night to increase your sex drive.
13. It helps bronchial irritation and asthma
Soothe bronchial irritation by drinking a tea made from the seeds. Additionally, if you suffer from spasmodic asthma, you may also get relief from drinking the tea.
While anise seed has many benefits, it’s important to note that high doses of the essential oil are toxic due to its narcotic properties. Anise seed is safe when used in small doses. Ingesting large amounts of the seed can cause convulsions, narcosis, circulatory problems and even coma. Additionally, when used improperly, seizures, paralysis, lack of clarity and other mental problems may occur. Always consult a certified herbalist, naturopathic doctor or healthcare practitioner before using or administering anise seed and oil.
— Katherine Marko