Star anise is a star-shaped seed pod of the Chinese evergreen tree Illicium verum. It is commonly used as a spice and it has flavor that many people have likened to licorice. Star anise is an incredible source of powerful health-promoting compounds, such as Linalool, Quercetin, Anethole, Shikimic acid, Gallic acid and Limonene. These compounds are responsible for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of star anise. Some animal and test-tube research studies have even demonstrated anti-cancer properties of star anise essential oils, such as tumor size reduction.
Origins of Anise
Anise star is the seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium verum tree, which is an evergreen tree native to southern China. Fruits from this tree can be eaten dried or fresh, but the leaves are poisonous. Anise star was brought to Europe in the late 1500s by an English sailor and it was later traded along the tea route from China through Russia. Star anise has been used as medicine and spice for over 3,000 years. In some parts of Asia, it is chewed after meals to facilitate digestion and to sweeten the breath. The anise star plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to remedy numerous ailments, such as joint pain, muscle spasm, constipation and even toothaches. In Japan, anise star is a common ingredient in cough drops and other kinds of cough medicine.
Popular Uses of Anise
The sweet and aromatic flavor of star anise can be attributed to the organic compound anethole, which is thirteen times sweeter than sugar. This accounts for the popular culinary uses of anise star in soups, sauces, bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits and other kinds of confectionary. Anise star is also popularly used in traditional medicine as a remedy for cough, bronchitis, viral-flu and digestive disorders. In China and Taiwan, it is chewed to produce a mouth freshening effect.
Health Benefits of Anise
Anise star has a plethora of health benefits. It is a spice that contains important antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that can a key function in disease prevention, health promotion and general wellness. 3 to 7% of star anise is composed of shikimic acid, a vital component of the antiviral medicine oseltamivir, or Tamiflu, that is used for the treatment of the influenza virus. Anise star is a great source of essential B-complex vitamins, such as niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin as well as a great source of important minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. On top of that, this spice contains valuable antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin A.
A Look at Anise Essential Oils
Anise star essential oil is extracted from the star shaped fruits of the of Illicium verum tree. It blends wonderfully with cedarwood, German chamomile, roman chamomile, cypress, fennel, lavender, lime, neroli, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, rose, tea tree, vanilla, and mandarin. Anise star essential oil has been found to possess sedative and narcotic properties that are helpful for calming panic and epileptic attacks. It can also provide pain relief for arthritis and rheumatism by increasing blood circulation to the affected areas. It even has antiseptic properties that can aid in the prevention of infection in wounds. Believe it or not, these are just some of the many uses of anise star essential oil.
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