Anise / Star Anise

Anise / Star Anise (Hui Xiang / Ba Jiao Hui Xiang)

Botanical Name: Western – Pimpinella anisum (Anise). Eastern – Illicium verum (Star anise).

Anise, also called aniseed, is widely cultivated to flavor food and drinks. It is especially popular in the Mediterranean where it is native. Star anise (Illicium verum) is an evergreen plant from a different family, though it has similar properties and flavor. Anise is a useful carminative, reducing flatulence, it is used by many cultures as a digestive after feasting. Due to its estrogen-like properties, it can also help reduce menopausal symptoms. It is also used to fight lice, and help increase lactation.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Are Anise and Star Anise the Same Thing?

Below is an overview of anise / star anise, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of anise / star anise.

How to take FULL advantage of Anise / Star Anise's healing powers...

Anise (Hui Xiang, Ba Jiao Hui Xiang)

JOIN ME in an exploration of the healing herb, Anise / Star Anise (Hui Xiang / Ba Jiao Hui Xiang). Dive deep into the benefits and applications of Anise / Star Anise, from Eastern and Western perspectives, and so much more!


Western Name: Anise (Pimpinella anisum) / Star Anise (Illicium verum)

Also Known As: Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)

Organs/Systems: Digestive, Reproductive, Bladder, Skin

Key Actions: Expectorant, Aphrodisiac, Diuretic, Antidepressant, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Carminative, Sedating, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Decongestant, Cordial, Antirheumatic

Medicinal Uses: Upset stomach, menstrual cramping, inadequate lactation, seizures, asthma, cough, insomnia, congestion, constipation, poor urination, lice, scabies, psoriasis, depression, postpartum depression, cholera, diarrhea, fungal skin disorders, menopausal disorders, balancing blood sugar, preventing bone loss, insomnia, lice, scabies, flavor for drinks and teas.


Pin Yin: Hui Xiang (the same word can also be used to mean anise, aniseed, and fennel), Ba Jiao Hui Xiang (star anise)

Also Known As: Da Hui Xiang

Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Kidney, Liver

Key Actions: Tonify Qi, Tonify Yang, Warms the Interior, Expels Cold

Medicinal Uses: Poor appetite, arthritis, joint pain, stomach cramping, acute or chronic constipation, abdominal pain due to Cold, hernia, lumbago, vomiting, nausea, menstrual cramping.

Basic Habitat / Botany:

Anise (Pimpinella anisum), a.k.a. aniseed, is a flowering herbaceous annual plant in the dill and parsley family, Apiaceae. It can grow to 3 feet or taller. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, long, and shallowly lobed, the leaves that are higher up on the stems are feathery pinnate. The flowers are white and grow in umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, called aniseed. Star anise (Illicium verum) is the star-shaped fruit of a small evergreen tree that is a member of the magnolia family Schisandraceae.

Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) is native to the Eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Star anise (Illicium verum) is native to Southern China and Indochina.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Seed (fruit), Oil, Root, Leaf​

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Pungent, Aromatic, Warm

Caution: Considered safe. People allergic to plants similar to anise (asparagus, caraway, cumin, dill, fennel, coriander, and celery), may experience allergic reactions.

Key Constituents: Anetole, Estragole, Acetopheone, Limonene, Pinene, Protein (18%), Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Zinc, Potassium, Copper, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, Thymol, Terpineol, Anethole. Star anise: also includes Shikimic acid

History/Folklore: Anise (aka aniseed) was first cultivated in Egypt and the Middle East and then brought to Europe as a medicine. The seeds were so valuable in the East that they were often used to pay taxes. Among other ailments, the seeds have been used to treat digestive issues, low libido, and to contribute to healthy levels of neuro-chemicals in the brain.

The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with anise called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. It is this tradition of serving cake at the end of feasts that is the basis for serving wedding cake at weddings. They also used it as a form of currency.

Pliny the Elder, the Roman botanist and general, considered anise as a cure for sleeplessness, a useful breath freshener, and when mixed with wine, a remedy for asp bites.

The English herbalist, John Gerard, said “The seed wasteth and consumeth winde, and is good against belchings and upbraidings of the stomacke, alaieth gripings of the belly, provoketh urine gently, maketh abundance of milke, and stirreth up bodily lust: it staieth the laske (diarrhea), and also the white flux (leukorrhea) in women.”

The constituents thymol, terpineol, and anethole contribute to the seeds and oil of both plants and are used to treat pectoral disorders and coughs. Used as a lozenge the seeds are an effective expectorant. A tea made from the seeds can help soothe bronchial irritations. A gargle made from the tea can relieve sore throat, laryngitis, or pharyngitis. Aniseed oil used in a vaporizer is effective for clearing congestion and coughs. A paste made from the seeds can be applied to the forehead, neck, or temples to relieve headaches and migraines.

Star anise (Illicium verum) is indigenous to Northern China and is widely used in South Asian, Southwest Asian, and East Asian cooking. Star anise is considerably less expensive to produce than anise (P. anisum). It is a key ingredient in the Mexican dish atole de anis and champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate. In Pakistan and India, it is used as a digestive after dinner. Star anise is a key ingredient in the popular Indian dish, garam marsala.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) star anise (Illicium verum), is commonly used with aloe vera (Lui Hui) to treat acute or chronic constipation. The herb’s pungent flavor is recognized as being able to aid the Circulation of Qi and Body Fluids. Research on star anise has revealed it contains a compound called shikimic acid, which is a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu). The herb is also a popular ingredient in the famous Five-spice powder blend used in many Asian dishes. Medicinally 3 to 6g are used in decoction, pill, or powdered form.

The chemical constituents in anise and star anise may have estrogen-like effects.

Anethole, a compound found in both plant’s, but far more in anise, is a key ingredient in anise essential oil, making up 80-90% of the plant’s oil. This compound has important antimicrobial properties that help counter viral, bacterial, fungal, yeast, and mold infections.

In foods, anise and star anise are used as flavoring agents. Their flavor resembles black licorice and they are commonly used in alcohols, liqueurs, breath fresheners, and candies. Anise is used to flavor Greek Ouzo, Italian Sambuca, Bulgarian Mastika, French Absinthe, Anisette, and Sastis, and Turkish Raki.

The seeds of either plant can be ground or used whole for bread-making.

The name “anise” is derived via the Old French from the Latin word anisum, referring to dill.

Anise is also used as a fragrance in soaps, creams, perfumes, and sachets.

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Did you know?


Anise made into a paste can be used to treat lice and scabies.



It is said drinking one glass of water infused with crushed aniseeds or star anise seeds each night can increase sex drive.

Fun fact!


Anise and star anise have a distinct sweet, licorice flavor and are often used to flavor drinks and desserts.

How to use Anise / Star Anise (Hui Xiang / Ba Jiao Hui Xiang) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!

Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.

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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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