Anise is a culinary herb that contains substantial amount of protein, fatty oil and crude fiber besides essential oil, sugar, starch and ash. It also contains choline. It grows up to a height of 75 cm. Its fruit, known as aniseed, is one of the oldest spices.
Anise oil is a colorless or pale-yellow liquid, with the characteristic odor and taste of the fruit. This oil has now replaced the fruits for medicinal and flavoring purposes.
The chief constituent of anise oil is anethole which is mainly responsible for the characteristics flavor of the oil. The oil also contains methyl, chavicol, p-methoxyphenyl acetone and small amounts of terpenes and sulphur compounds of disagreeable odor.
Botanical Name: Pimpinella anisum
Indian Name: Velaiti saunf
Below are some of the medicinal properties of aniseed:
- Aniseed is a valuable herb for expelling wind from the stomach. It can also be taken, in combination with other digestive like ginger, cumin and pepper, in the form of an infusion.
An easy way to prepare the infusion is to mix a teaspoon of aniseed in a cup of boiling water and leave it covered overnight. The clear fluid is then decanted and taken with honey. This is an effective treatment for indigestion, especially when there is fermentation is the stomach and the bowels.
- It is useful in the treatment of cataract. Six grams of aniseed should be taken daily in the morning and evening. The other way of taking this herb is to powder an equal weight of unrefined sugar. About twelve gram of doses of this mixture is to be taken in the morning and evening.
- It is also considered beneficial in the treatment of asthma due to its expectorant properties.
- Aniseed is well known for its remedial properties to relieve flatulence and to remove catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. These properties are due to the presence of its essential oil. The seed also induces copious perspiration and increases the volume and discharge of urine.
- Tea made from aniseed is given in case of sleeplessness. It is prepared by boiling 375 ml of water and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. The water should be covered with a lid and allowed to simmer for 15 minutes. It should then be strained and taken hot or warm. Honey and hot milk will improve the taste. It should be sipped either after meal or before going to bed.
- Aniseed is used externally as an insecticide against small insects such as head lice, mites and vermin. It also has fungicidal properties.
Aniseeds are used to flavor curries, sweets, cake, cookies and biscuits. Anise oil is employed in medicine as an aromatic carminative to relieve flatulence. Being a mild expectorant, it is used as an ingredient of beverages and liqueurs. It is also used as a flavoring agent for dental preparations and mouth washes.
Aniseed should not be boiled too long as it may lose its digestive properties and essential oil during the process.