The healing power of star anise

Star anise is a dried flower shaped like a star with eight points. Star anise is a delicious herb that can provide dishes with a wonderful aroma. You cannot eat star anise directly; it’s too big for that. You could crush star anise to eat it. Star anise is very suitable for making tea. As the name suggests, it has an aniseed aroma. The star anise tree is native to Northern Vietnam and Southern China. Star anise has been known in the west since about the 17th century. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of star anise / Source: Pierre Jean Fran├žois Turpin (1776 1840), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Naming star anise
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • Star anise contains antiviral agent
  • Star anise is antibacterial and antifungal
  • Star anise as a strong antioxidant
  • Star anise in folk medicine
  • Star anise for stomach ache
  • Star anise and pregnancy

 

Naming star anise

The Latin name of star anise is Illicium verum . Illicium comes from illcio, which means temptation. Verum means ‘real’. The plant therefore means ‘true temptation’ in Latin. The Dutch name is easy to understand because this herb tastes like anise and looks like a star. The reason it tastes like anise is because it contains anethole. In fact, star anise is used more often than regular anise seed in food, drinks and sweets to achieve an aniseed flavour.

Chinese five spice powder

Star anise, together with Sichuan pepper, Chinese cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds, is part of Five Spice Powder which is served in a jar in China to enrich the taste of meals. In Asia, star anise is seen as a remedy for rheumatic diseases. It is a warming herb and is therefore used in colder regions.

Star anise contains antiviral agent

Star anise contains a component used to make the antiviral drug tamiflu or oseltamivir. This component is called shikimic acid. Nowadays, pharmaceutical induction is increasingly working with genetically engineered E. coli bacteria that can produce shikimic acid. The use of star anise as an antiviral comes from Chinese traditional medicine; there it had been used for centuries against the common cold virus.

Star anise is antibacterial and antifungal

In addition to the fact that star anise works against viruses, it is a possible remedy against bacteria and fungal diseases such as candida. From recent

Star anise with the seeds still in it. / Source: Arria Belli (Arria Belli), Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.0)

Korean research shows that star anise could well become the basis for a medicine that combats candida. In addition, it is a strong antibacterial agent. Taiwanese research showed that it fights 67 bacteria that cannot be combated with drugs; the bacteria studied are resistant to this.

You can add star anise to black tea; you then make fresh aniseed tea yourself. You can also add star anise to cold drinking water that you place in a jug on the table. Star anise makes the water refreshing, just like lemon slices can do.

 

Star anise as a strong antioxidant

Star anise contains substances that capture free radicals and render them harmless. If left undisturbed, these free radicals can cause serious diseases, including cancer. Research has been conducted at a university in India into the anti-cancer effect of star anise. Laboratory animals infected with cancer cell lines developed cancer less often when they were fed star anise. This could indicate that star anise has a preventive effect against cancer.

Star anise in folk medicine

Star anise can be a sedative; you can sleep better after taking star anise. In traditional folk medicine of Asia, star anise is used to chew after meals. Besides helping digestion, the mouth becomes nice and fresh and sweet. It is warned not to chew star anise all day long; that is not good for your health. This can lead to tremors throughout the body and all kinds of cramps. When used normally, star anise is harmless.

Star anise for stomach ache

Star anise is traditionally used for abdominal pain. It also helps digestion and works against colic and flatulence. In aromatherapy, star anise essential oil is used for pain and respiratory problems. Not too much of the essential oil should be used; that can affect brain functions.

Star anise and pregnancy

Star anise essential oil is not suitable for women in the pregnancy phase. On the other hand, regular star anise – not the essential oil – can help during breastfeeding; it increases breast milk production. Star anise is also known to increase libido for both men and women. Star anise is healthy for the sexual organs of men and women.

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