Anise Oil: Benefits, Usage, Properties, and Side Effects
From promoting a glowing skin to boosting your immunity and improving your sleep quality, the anise oil benefits are abundant. Anise has been used from the ancient times to treat muscle pain, ease joint pain, improve digestion, and much more.
It holds a high value in Chinese medicinal system. Let’s understand its history, properties, chemical structure, and usage in detail.
What is Anise Oil?
Anise essential oil is derived from the seeds of the anise plant. Star anise comes in two different species – Chinese and the Japanese. The Japanese anise is highly toxic (often used as a natural pesticide in agriculture). Only the Chinese anise is used commonly. (1)
Though, it is native to Asia, it is commercially grown in France, Spain, and Russia. Anise oil is used for flavoring cakes and other dishes.
About the plant:
Anise is an aromatic plant, which belongs to a family called Apiaceae. Anise is native to the Mediterranean region and the southwest of Asia. It is an herb that grows throughout the year and reaches a height of 3 feet or taller.
The leaves are about 1-5 cm long and shadowed lobed. They are usually seen growing on the upper part of the plant. The flowers are white, dense umbel-shaped, and have a diameter of 3mm. The fruits are oblong with dry schizocarp and are usually 3-4 mm in length. (2)
The plant of anise is used as food for larvae of Lepidoptera (a species of butterfly and moth). The plant grows best in fertile, light, and well-drained soil. The seeds must be planted before spring. Springs are warmer for the plants to grow.
Scientific Name of Anise Oil
The botanical name of anise is Pimpinella anisum.
History of Anise Oil
During the time of Christ, the plant of anise was expensive. The Palestine people even had to pay tax for it. Anise is referred to as dill in old Greece. Dioscorides, Pliny, Theophrastus, and Paladus wrote about the cultivation of the anise plant.
The use of anise dates back to the 9th century. They were cultivated in imperial farms and was even was discussed by Albertus Magnus. He was a well-known priest, who wrote about anise, its medicinal uses, and cultivation back in 1280. (3)
Clusius, a botanist introduced anise to London during the 17th century. The pods were brought to Europe on a trade route between Russia & China. They called them Siberian cardamoms in those days.
Europeans used star anise for making different liquors. The Italians made Galliano, the Greeks created Ouzo, the Swiss concocted absinth (a powerful spirit, which was banned in the U.S. for a while because it caused hallucinations after consuming it in excess), and the French prepared Pernod & Pastis.
The popularity of anise spread within some time, and it soon made its way into various cuisines, especially in India.
Color, Consistency, and Smell of Anise Oil
- The color of anise essential oil is colorless or pale yellow.
- The consistency of anise essential oil is thin and light.
- The smell of anise essential oil is similar to that of licorice.
Properties of Anise Essential Oil
- Stimulant – Stimulates the mind and body
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces pain and swelling
- Antioxidant – Scavenges free radicals
- Antibacterial – Fights bacterial infections
- Antifungal – Effective against fungal infections
- Expectorant – Eases cold and congestion
- Antispasmodic – Reduces muscular spasms
- Digestive – Helps in healthy digestion
- Gas relaxant – Effective against acidity issues
- Aphrodisiac – Increases sexual power
- Cardioprotective – Protects the heart
- Anti-epileptic – Effective against epilepsy
- Antiseptic – Works against sepsis
- Anti-rheumatic – Soothes rheumatoid arthritis
- Insecticide – Kills insects
- Vermifuge – Fights against intestinal worms
- Emenogauge – Helps in treating menstrual problems
Chemical Compounds in Anise Oil
The major compounds found in anise seeds are:
Oleic acid, ethyl esters of oleic acid, palmitic acid, trans anethol, n-hexane oleoresin, and petroleum extract benzene oleoresin is also identified.
Among all the chemical constituents, oleic acid is the major constituent.
Anise oil is also a rich source of estragol, propionic, eugenol p-eresol, anisic alcohol, butyric acid, and myristic acid. Anethol is responsible for the aromatic odor of anise oil. The structure of anethol is similar to catecholamine, dopamine, noradrenalin, and adrenalin.
Health Benefits of Anise Oil
Anise essential oil is an effective herbal remedy for multiple health problems such as cough, cold, flu, phlegm deposition, respiratory disorders (like asthma) etc. It is also effective against spasms, cramps, diarrhea, and muscular pain. It works as a relaxant and anti-spasmodic agent.
It reduces the formation of gas or acidity, prevents hypertension and obesity. It also treats poor eyesight and hair loss. Besides these, the other anise oil benefits are listed below:
- Prevents microbial infections
- Normalizes the menstrual cycle
- Soothes rheumatoid arthritis
- Kills intestinal worms
- Prevents cardiac problems
- Increases libido
- Prevents epilepsy
- Effective anti-rodent & insecticide
- Works as a diuretic
- Useful as a reno-protective
1. Prevents microbial infections
Anise essential oil is an active anti-microbial agent. It helps in inhibiting the growth of bacteria and virus. It is also found effective against fungal growth.
It is useful against Candida albicans and fungal growth such as Aspergillus, Alternaria, Penicillin, Fusarium, and Cladosporium. Anise oil is a potent antioxidant and found useful against the growth of bacterial strains such as E. coli, Corynebacterium ovis, Streptococcus pyogenes, and S.taphylococcus aureus. (9, 10)
2. Normalizes the menstrual cycle
Anise essential oil is helpful in the treatment of various menstrual disorders in women. It helps in easing the menstrual cramps and regulates a disturbed menstrual cycle. When applied topically and massaged carefully on the lower abdomen, it can help in relaxing the cramps and pain during menstruation.
The compound anethol in it has a similar structure to that of epinephrine and norepinephrine – components that regulate and take care of proper secretion of progesterone. Both these compounds ate also used in the treatment of menstrual disorders. (11)
3. Soothes rheumatoid arthritis
Anise essential oil is found effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis too. It helps in stimulating the blood flow and excreting out the excess uric acid from the blood.
When excess uric acid is deposited in the joints, it causes rheumatoid (inflammation in the joints). These inflamed joints cause pain and create trouble while walking. However, anise oil helps in soothing the inflammation and reduces the effect of arthritis by treating it naturally. (12, 13)
4. Kills intestinal worms
5. Prevents cardiac problems
One of the best health benefits of anise oil is that it can treat and prevent cardiac problems. It lowers the bad cholesterol levels and eliminates the excess fat accumulated in the body. When the fat cells are removed, the arteries are free from deposits.
6. Increases libido
Anise essential oil helps in increasing the sexual urge or libido. The compound anethol and a few other tannins present in anise seed oil are found effective for this property. The oil can either be diffused using a diffuser or sprayed around the room by diluting it. This increases the libido and sex drive. (18)
7. Prevents epilepsy
Anise oil is a well-known anti-epileptic agent and can help is reducing the frequency of epilepsy attacks by lowering the increased or excess blood flow. This is mainly due to the presence of tannins in it. Also, anethol is an effective component for this property. (19)
8. Effective anti-rodent & insecticide
Anise essential oil is used as insecticide, and works effective against rodent. When used in high dose, it can even kill them. It is often effective if sprayed and mixed with cheese for rodent. It can provide better pest and insect control. (20)
9. Works as a diuretic
Anise essential oil is a well-known diuretic and helps in excreting the excess salt from the body. This excretion and filtration process takes place via urine. When excess salt is removed, the blood pressure levels are lowered and both the heart and kidney are protected. In fact, consuming anise (through food) is good by hypertension patients, as it helps in maintaining their blood pressure levels.
10. Useful as a reno-protective
Anise essential oil helps in protecting cardiac problems, but did you know that it prevents renal issues too? Cardiac and renal problems are interrelated. This oil is used to protect heart from high cholesterol deposition and cardiac arrest.
Hypertension or high blood pressure levels for a prolonged time increases the impairment of kidneys. Due to hypertension, more blood passes through the kidneys, which considerably increase its filtration power.
The kidney experiences excess pressure and this can damage the filtration power of bowman capsule. As a result, the kidneys are more prone to damage. However, anise prevents the deposition of cholesterol and since it is a diuretic, it gets rid of excess salt from the body and reduces the increased blood pressure, protecting the kidneys naturally.
What Blends with Anise Oil?
Anise oil blends the best with:
- Lavender oil
- Pine oil
- Orange oil
- Rosewood oil
- Clove oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Wheatgerm oil
- Jojoba oil
How To Use Anise Oil?
Anise oil, just like any other essential oil, is potent in its concentrated form. Hence, it must be diluted with a carrier oil like wheat germ oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil before applying it on the skin or it can cause severe irritations or allergic reactions. It can be massaged topically and also used for inhalation.
Also Read: How to use essential oils?
Side Effects of Anise Oil
Anise essential oil can cause allergy in a few individuals. People with sensitive skin must avoid using this oil. Its use can even cause seizures, nausea, vomiting, and pulmonary edema. It can cause inflammation in the lips and skin.
The compounds estragole and anethol found in anise seed have a similar structure to safrole. Safrole is a well-known hepatotoxin as well as carcinogenic. Anethol is found toxic to rodents. In heavy doses, it can cause cancer (due to its estergenic property).
It is not recommended for pregnant women and lactating mothers. eAvoid using it on infants and children, as it can cause skin irritation and inflammation.