What is star anise for: know the benefits

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Did you know that star anise tea is a natural remedy to relieve the symptoms of gas, respiratory problems and also acts as a potent digestive tonic?

Widely used as a flavoring by the food and cosmetic industries, star anise has a sweet taste and a strong aroma and is rich in an essential oil with more than 40 active compounds.

Because of this, it is sold all over the world and it is easy to find it even in markets close to home. You must, however, be careful not to confuse it with fennel (green anise or Pimpinella anisum ), which is a totally different plant.

The star anise we are talking about here is the fruit of the Illicium verum tree , a plant native to China, which is dried and marketed as a spice .

The main benefits of star anise

It ends with indigestion

One of the main benefits of consuming star anise is the improvement of the digestion process , as announced by herbalist Danilo Ramon. According to him, the herb is rich in phytochemicals that act as a natural tonic.

That is, they stimulate the body to produce stomach acid. With this, food is digested faster, providing relief from the feeling of bloating , which is quite common after eating too much.

This effect makes the dried fruit also help in the treatment of nausea , as it speeds up the removal of what is wrong in the stomach.

On the other hand, the substances present in the anise essential oil protect the gastric mucosa against acidity and prevent the action of bacteria that cause ulcers. ( 1 )

Relieves discomfort from intestinal gas

In addition to being a digestive tonic, this herb is also carminative. Danilo clarifies that this means that it “combats and favors the elimination of stomach and intestinal gases ”.

Part of this occurs as a result of its laxative action, which promotes an increase in bowel movements. Thus, there is a greater expulsion of gases that accumulate in the region in the form of bubbles. ( 1 )

The act of speeding up digestion, in turn, means that food does not have enough time to start fermenting in the stomach.

Treats Symptoms of Respiratory Infections

“The plant is also secretolytic, that is, it facilitates the fluidification and expulsion of mucus [phlegm] from the airways”, defends Danilo and this action is due to the more than 40 active compounds present only in the essential oil extracted from the fruits and that make the internal use of derivatives of it effective remedies against cough .

Furthermore, by making the excretion of this liquid easier, star anise improves breathing and, consequently, alleviates the symptoms of allergic reactions and even asthma, which is an inflammation of the bronchi . (2 )

Another point that makes it an ideal remedy for colds and flu comes from shikimic acid, a substance often used in medicines to treat influenza, such as tamiflu. Therefore, it is possible to say that drinking a cup of tea can alleviate symptoms. ( 3 )

To top it off, it is able to boost immunity . This means that it improves the body’s response time against attacking microorganisms. In this way, the problem is treated in a shorter time, reducing sick days. ( 4 )

Fights menstrual and intestinal cramps

Chinese anise has another very interesting use, according to the consulted expert: to combat menstrual and intestinal cramps, even in small children, provided it is used under the supervision of a herbalist, due to the anti-inflammatory action of the essential oil.

Anise also has analgesic effects . That’s why it works by blocking pain stimuli that the body sends to the brain, thus promoting very quick relief. ( 5 )

The reduction of colic is also given by the anti-spasmodic action of anise, which reduces muscle contractions, which are one of the causes of this type of pain. ( 6 )

Soothes and reduces anxiety

Do you know those days when you are anxious or stressed about something gone wrong? When that happens, take some time and make yourself a warm cup of star anise tea, it’s sure to make you feel a lot better.

This dried fruit is considered a natural tranquilizer . As Danilo reinforced, it “is a natural antidepressant and therefore can bring more joy and lightness in difficult times of the day.”

This is derived from the presence of some compounds that act to decrease excitation in the nervous system.

As a result, the brain understands that it needs to slow down, bringing a feeling of relaxation . Oh and this also works to improve sleep quality. The infusion is, therefore, a delicious solution to combat insomnia . ( 6 )

Solves the problem of fluid retention

“[Star anise] works in the urinary tract by increasing the elimination of toxins and large amounts of salt from the body,” says the expert.

This diuretic effect makes it great for ending fluid retention , that uncomfortable swelling that is quite common in women in Premenstrual Tension (PMS) and can cause pain and fatigue.

The increase in diuresis, moreover, helps to control hypertension , as it promotes the excretion of salts from the body through the urine.

How to use?

To prepare star anise tea, just use 1 ½ of the nuts for every cup of boiling water.

Let it sit for 10 minutes to extract all the therapeutic compounds from the essential oil and then strain while still hot. The indication is to drink 3 to 4 cups a day and only during the treatment period. ( 7 )

Another option is to use aniseed extract, which can be purchased at herbal medicine stores, and which has the same orientation. The herb can also be used in the preparation of sweet and savory foods, as it combines well with meat.

Are there any contraindications?

To enjoy all these benefits of star anise, however, some precautions must be taken, mainly because the herb is toxic if consumed in doses above the recommended , as Danilo warns.

The professional also instructs that pregnant women, who are breastfeeding or who suffer from hyperestrogenism (excess female sex hormones) should avoid aniseed. In the first cases because it presents problems for very young children and in the second because it can aggravate the condition.

Even “overuse in children can cause continuous crying, irritability, vomiting and refusal to eat”, he warns, noting that consuming high doses can cause delusions in adults. So always follow the advice of an expert.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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