Anise is native to the eastern Mediterranean and is one of the oldest known spice plants used for medicinal purposes and for cooking. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes carrot, parsley, dill, fennel, coriander, cumin and caraway.
The Greek name anison and the Latin name anisum were derived from the early Arabic name anysum. Evidence has shown that anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C. The Romans used anise-spiced cakes after heavy meals to aid digestion. Due to its strong licorice flavor, the oil of anise is mixed with wine to form the liqueur anisette. It is also found in raki, a Turkish alcoholic beverage, and ouzo, a Greek alcoholic beverage.
Anise is mostly used as a spice in cooking. Medicinally it is used to promote digestion and to increase urine flow. Anise oil is also used in flavoring artificial licorice candies, cough lozenges and syrups.
Anise is used in Europe to aid in the treatment of cancer. In Mexico, Turkey, and China, it is used as a carminative (promotes digestion) and galactagogue (lactation stimulant). Elsewhere, it is used to induce abortions and to treat respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, and cough. Anise is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as GRAS (generally recognized as safe).
Anace, anason, aneys, anice, anis, anís, aniseed, anise seed, anisi, anisi fructus, anisi vulgaris, anison (Greek), anissame, anisu, anisum (Latin), anisun, anisur, anis vert (French), anny, annyle, anysum (Arabic), Apiaceae (family), fruto de anis (Spanish), fructus anisi, graines d'anis (French), p-anisaldehyde, Pimpinella anisetum, Pimpinella anisum, saunf, sconio, semi d'Aniso (Italian), simiente de anis (Spanish), sompf, souf, sweet Alice, sweet cumin, Tut-te See-Hau.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.