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Anise

Botanical name

(Lesser) Anise - Pimpinella anisum L.

Family

Umbelliferae (Apiaceae)

Useful information about the plant

This plant is thought to originate from the Orient because of its spicy scent. Today it is grown in southern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near East and India. It sometimes grows wild on roadsides and rubbish sites from discarded fruit.
Anise is an annual plant, it grows 30 to 50cm high and blossoms in July / August with numerous small white flowers, with 7 to 17 arranged in a double line. The leaves at the base of the stem are in a pattern and round, towards the top they are increasingly pinnatisect and sit directly on the stem. When the fruit is ripe it is a brownish grey, 3-5mm long with lighter, slightly edged protruding ribs. It is like all Umbelliferae with "double achenes", but in the case of the anise it does not come apart into the two fruits parts (achenes), as is the case with cumin. Anise is a popular flavouring for cakes and for the production of alcoholic drinks (Anise Schnapps, Pernod, Pastis, Ouzo).

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The ripe fruit with its typical liquorice aroma is used and when rubbed the aroma increases significantly and is produced by the essential oil contained in the fruit.
The commercially available drug comes from imports from Turkey, Egypt and Spain.

Ingredients of the drug

Anise contains an essential oil ("anise oil") with sweet-tasting trans-anethole (main component), which is the cause of the familiar smell of the drug, along with a fatty oil and protein.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur):

  • Anise (Anisi fructus)
  • Anise oil (Anisi aetheroleum)

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Internally for mild abdominal pain, associated with cramps and bloating (dyspepsia), internally and externally for catarrh of the respiratory tract (Commission E, ESCOP). The HMPC has classified anise and anise oil as a traditional herbal medicinal product (see "traditional use").

Traditional use

The HMPC has classified Anise as a traditional herbal medicine (§ 39a AMG). Based on many years of experience, Anise can be used for slight spasms and cramps in the stomach area (flatulence) and used as a decongestant in coughs associated with a cold. It is traditionally used to help clear the mucus in the respiratory tract (traditional use according to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • Anise oil in enteric-coated capsules or liquids
  • Dried extract in tablets
Anise is often used in combination with other similar acting drugs.

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package leaflet; Anise oil: take 3 - 5 drops on a lump of sugar several times daily;
Tea infusion: drink 1 cup of warm anise tea several times daily (even in mixtures with other drugs as gastrointestinal tea, cough and bronchial tea).

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour a cup (150ml) of hot (not boiling!) water over 1 to 3.5 g of freshly crushed anise seeds, let it stand for 10 minutes and strain. To promote the effectiveness, the anise should be crushed beforehand or powdered coarsely so that the essential oil can get into the tea.

Advice

Anise preparations must be avoided with existing allergies to Umbelliferae (fennel, cumin, celery, cilantro or dill) or to anethole. When storing anise, if exposed to light the trans-anethole may form "Photoanethol" with estrogenic properties.
There is still no experience on the harmlessness of using anise during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Children under the age of 12 must not take the essential oil (aniseed oil) because of missing data and because of the estragole content.

Side effects

Occasional skin and respiratory allergies

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

HMPC, Commission E, ESCOP, WHO Vol. 3

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 81
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie,pg. 42
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 240
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Anise, no. 0262; Anise oil, no. 0804)

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