Anise, a native to the eastern Mediterranean, is one of the oldest known spice plants. It is used for both medicinal purposes and for food. 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 suggests that anise was used in Egypt as early as 1500 B.C. The Romans used anise-spiced cakes to aid digestion after heavy meals. The oil of anise, which has a strong licorice flavor, is mixed with wine to form the liqueur anisette. Oil of anise also found in raki, a Turkish alcoholic beverage, and ouzo, a Greek alcoholic beverage.
Anise is used as a spice in cooking. Medicinally it is used to promote digestion and to increase urine flow. Anise oil is used in flavoring artificial licorice candies, cough lozenges, and syrups.
Anise is used in Europe to aid cancer treatment. In Mexico, Turkey, and China, it is used as a carminative (relieves intestinal gas) and galactagogue (stimulates breast milk production). Elsewhere, it is used to induce abortion and to treat respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, and cough. In combination with other herbs, anise has been used to treat head lice infestation. Anise is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

Related Terms

4-Ethylbenzaldehyde, 4-(3-methyloxiran-2-yl)phenyl 2-methylbutanoate, 4-(6-methylbicyclo[4.1.0]hept-2-en-7-yl)butan-2-one, 7-(4-(2-propenyl)phenylangelate), 12-(4-(3-methyloxiranyl)phenyltiglate), 17-(4-methoxy-2-(3-methyloxiranyl)phenyl isobutyrate), 18-(4-methoxy-2-(3-methyloxiranyl)phenylangelate), 21-(epoxy pseudoisoeugenol-2-methylbutyrate), acetaldehyde, alpha-himachalene, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, alpha-tocopherols, alpha-zingiberene, aluminum, anace, anason, anethole, aneys, anice, anis (Spanish), anisaldehyde, aniseed (Anisum vulgare), anise oil, anise seed, anisi, anisic acid, Anisi fructus, Anisi vulgaris, anison (Greek), anissame, anisu, anisum (Latin), anisun, anisur, anis vert (French), anisyl alcohol, anny, annyle, anysum (Arabic), Apiaceae (family), apigenin 7-glucoside, ar-curcumene, ascorbic acid, bergapten, beta-bisabolene, beta-D-glucopyranosides, beta-pinene, beta-sitosterol, beta-tocopherols, boron, caffeic acid, calcium, camphene, chlorogenic acid, choline, chromium, cis-pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate, cobalt, copper, coumarins, d-carvone, delta-tocopherols, dianethole, estragole, eugenol, fiber, flavonoids, fructus Anisi (anise), fructus Anisi vulgaris, fruto de anis (Spanish), furfural, gamma-himachalene, graines d'anis (French), hydroquinone, imperatorin, iron, isoorientin, isovitexin, Kolorex®, lead, limonene, linalool, luteolin 7-glucoside, luteolin glycoside, magnesium, manganese, mannitol, methylchavicol, methyl syringate 4-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, molybdenum, mononorsesquiterpenoids, myristicin, neophytadiene, nickel, p-anisaldehyde, p-cresol, phellandrene, phosphorus, photoanethole, Pimpinella anisetum, Pimpinella anisum spp., p-methoxybenzaldehyde, polyacetylenes, potassium, pristane, propenylphenols, pseudoisoeugenols, quercetin 3-glucuronide, rutin, sabene, saunf, sconio, scopoletin, semi d'aniso (Italian), seselin, sesquinorsesquiterpenoids, silicon, simiente de anis (Spanish), sompf, souf, squalene, stigmasterol, sweet Alice, sweet cumin, t-anethole, trans-anethole, trans-pseudoisoeugenyl 2-methylbutyrate, trinorsesquiterpenoids, tut-te-see-hau (native American), umbelliferon, zinc.

evidence table

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.
Asthma (Grade: C)
A water extract of a mixture of eight herbs (anise, black seed, caraway, cardamom, chamomile, fennel, licorice, and saffron) has demonstrated beneficial effects in patients with allergic asthma. Further studies on the effect of anise alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) (Grade: C)
A combination of saffron, celery seed, and anise helped reduce menstrual pain. Additional studies on the effects of anise alone are needed before a conclusion may be made.
Head lice (Grade: C)
A combination of coconut oil and anise oil, with or without ylang ylang oil, has been used to treat head lice infestation. Further research on the effect of anise alone is needed before a conclusion may be made.