Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) should not be confused with anise (Pimpenella anisum), a member of the carrot family, or with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum). Chinese star anise (star anise) is native to China and Vietnam and has been used for its carminative (reduces gas), stomachic (digestive aid), stimulant, and diuretic medicinal properties. Star anise is used by the Malays to combat stomachache due to the accumulation of intestinal gas, headache, and to promote vitality.
Shikimic acid extracted from the pods (which wraps the seeds) of star anise is the starting material of Tamiflu®. Tamiflu® (Roche Laboratories) is an antiviral drug which has gained popularity with the recent spread of the bird flu (H5N1). Roche Laboratories and its partners mainly use the shikimic acid extracted from Chinese star anise. However, they are developing new technologies that use an E. coli bacteria that produces shikimic acid when overfed glucose.
In September 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers not to consume teas containing star anise. Such teas have been linked with serious neurological effects such as seizures, vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement. Some reports have found Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) to be contaminated with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), which is a known neurotoxin. Chinese star anise is recognized as safe for food use by the FDA, as acknowledged in the FDA's advisory. Chinese star anise is believed to help with colic in infants; however, the FDA is unaware of scientific evidence to support this claim. In addition, the FDA has not identified the specific type of star anise associated with the adverse effects. Similar reports of adverse effects have been found in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington in the United States as well as the Netherlands, Spain, and France.
Anice stellato, anis de la Chine (French), anis estrellado, anise étoilé (French), anise stars, aniseed, Anisi stellati fructus, ba chio, badain, badaine, badian, badiana, ba(ht) g(h)ok, bart gok, bunga lawang, Chinese anise, Chinese star anise, eight-horned anise, eight horns, I. anisatum, Illicium anisatum L (Japanese star anise), Illicium verum, Illiciumreligiosum, Illicium verum Hook f, pa-chiao, pak kok, peh kah, star anise, sternanis, Tamiflu®.
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.