Star anise (Illicium verum), or Chinese anise, is a spice in Asian cuisine that lends dishes a sweet licorice-like taste. Star anise’s name "illicium" means alluring because of its rich and warm flavor. It is one of the ingredients of the popular five-spice powder. In the beauty industry, star anise is an ingredient added to perfumes, soaps, toothpaste, and aromatherapy products. For more than three centuries, the star anise is a prominent spice and medicine in South China and Vietnam.
Where Star Anise Is Found
The star anise is native to China and grows wildly in tropical climates. Star anise are actual evergreen trees, and abundant in damp woodlands and along riverbanks, streams and swamps. These beautiful trees are frost sensitive however, and cannot grow in cold climates except in greenhouses and large cold frames.
How To Identify Star Anise
Star anise is known for its distinctive star-like dried fruits. It may take many years for star anise to bear its fragrant fruits. But when it starts to blossom, you will have bountiful produce of star anise for cooking and medicine for years to come!
Leaves. The leaves of the star anise are fragrant, lanced-shaped, and olive green in color. They are simple, alternate, and are clustered at the end of it's branches.
Fruits. Before the widely recognized star-shaped fruit ripens to its usual form, star anise fruits are green. There are six to eight "arms" that form the star shape, and each contains a seed.
Seeds. Inside the "arms" are tiny, oval seeds of the plant itself. They are smooth, brown in color, shiny in appearance, and quite fragile. Star anise seeds produce a scent and taste similar to black licorice.
What Star Anise Is Good for Medicinally
Star anise is a powerful digestive aid that helps in relieving gas, stomach cramps, bloating, and indigestion. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, star anise maintains the “chi,” or balance. Aside from a digestive health, it is also a cure for different respiratory problems.
The essential oil of star anise contains antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Its seed pods also contain high levels of shikimic acid which is used as a primary ingredient in anti-flu medications. The seeds are a high source of B-complex and other important vitamins like riboflavin for improving brain function. The seed is also a free radical cell damage protector!
Topically, seed oil is applied to the skin with carrier oil to ease joint pain and rheumatism. It's also an effective treatment for head lice. There are recent discoveries that the seed contains mild sedative properties that can help with sleep disorders. Star anise seeds are chewed to relieve digestive disturbances. It is also crushed and steeped into a tea to alleviate sleep problems.
How To Use This Remedy:
This healthy drink of star anise and milk is best to go with your morning routine. It is also a good cup for alleviating flatulence, bloating, and indigestion. It further boosts your immune system if you are suffering from flu or respiratory illness. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW TREATMENTS.
Warming Star Anise Milk
- 1 ½ (375 ml) whole milk
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 tsp molasses, honey, or agave
- Combine milk, molasses, and star anise in a pot. Turn the heat to medium and whisk constantly for about 7 minutes or until the mixture starts to boil.
- Remove from heat once it gets frothy and begins to boil over. Pour the star anise milk into a cup and enjoy it while hot.
We hope you take this time as fall quickly approaches to slow down and enjoy the little things. Grab some warm star anise milk, a book, and watch the leaves fall!
Marie, A (October 7 2022). Star Anise The Lost Herbs [Blog Post] Retrieved and adapted from: https://thelostherbs.com/star-anise/