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Anise Tea Benefits and Recipe

Updated on February 16, 2015
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  • What is anise tea? Historic facts

The anise is an herb from the parsley family. It mainly grows in regions like Turkey, Crete, Greece, Egypt and other Mediterranean areas and also in the Middle East. In ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, this plant was widely used. Nowadays, the anise is grown in all the warm areas like South and Central America, Mexico, North Africa, India, Asia, and southern Europe. The scientific name of the plant is Pimpinella anisum and it’s also known as Pimpinel Seed, Anise Oil, Sweet Cumin and Aniseed.

The anise plant is 60 cm high, small yellow and white flowers and a long taproot. It also produces a fruit, known as aniseed. This is the part that’s used for medical purposes, because it gives the volatile oil extract. The anise is extremely flavored and it tastes a lot like licorice. The leaves also have curative properties. They can be utilized dried or fresh. The anise is also used to flavor liqueurs (ouzo and anisette), curries, nonalcoholic beverages, breads, desserts, soups, candies and cakes and products like skin creams, mouthwashes and toothpastes.

This herb has been used for thousands of years due to its beneficial properties: diuretic, stimulant, carminative. In Egypt, the plant has been first cultivated 4,000 years ago. Some ancient writings state that the seeds from the anise were used to calm toothache and to cure digestive problems. Hammurabi and Hippocrates also used anise in their practices. The latter one claimed that the herb is extremely efficient in clearing the respiratory system. In the 1st century CE, Discorides wrote about the anise plant that it “dissolves, dries and warms” and said that it’s truly a medicinal plant.

In 1551, William Turner said that the anise eases the pain and makes the breath sweeter. Thus, the plant is not only good for gastronomic purposes, but it can also be used as a breath freshener and for treating the intestinal gas and abdominal problems.

Even though it was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region, nowadays it’s also seen in South America. In the 16th century it was brought there by the Spanish colonists. Ever since, the Latin Americans have used it for its medicinal and culinary properties. In medieval times, people used to treat tonsillitis with gargles of anise, vinegar and honey. It was also used as a perfume due to its strong fragrance.

Older traditions stated that it’s better to keep the anise near the bed to take away the bad dreams. Also, it was said that if it’s chewed in the morning it can eliminate the bad breath. Some interesting historic facts are that the Romans used the anise as currency. Also, back in the 16th century, the Europeans invented traps with anise to catch mice.

The traditional uses of anise were for joy, awareness, purification and protection. Nowadays, it’s used for its expectorant, antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial effects. The key components of anise are: volatile oil (methyl chavicol, anethole), fatty oil, sterols, flavonoids, proteins, p-methoxy-acetophenone, furanocoumarins, proteins, anise alcohol, proteic substances, gamma-himachalene, aromatic essences, estragol, limonene, the B complex, iron, calcium, sulphur, potassium, anise aldehyde and phosphorus. The main components that are used in medicine are the photoanethole and the dianethole, the anethole that is very helpful for the digestive and respiratory systems and the essential oils. The forms in which the anise can be found are tea and capsules.

  • Health benefits

The best way to obtain the beneficial effects of this plant is by drinking anise tea. The positive effects of this tea are numerous. For example, it has been used for years in the homeopathic medicine. It treats respiratory problems like colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, loosens the phlegm and mucus in the throat and lungs. It can also cure hiccups and colic. The anise tea can also boost the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers and it is said to treat impotence. Bloating, gas and nausea can also be treated with this beneficial tea. It may even be used externally to eliminate scabies and lice.

The chemicals found in the plant are the ones that have curative properties. For example, the anethole calms the upset stomach and relieves the gas. Even if it’s used as a condiment in vegetable and meat dishes it can be a quite effective digestive aid. The alpha-pinene and the creosol are very efficient expectorants. The photoanethole and the dianethole have estrogenic actions. The entire plant can be used as a stomachic, an antibacterial, a stimulant, an antimicrobial, a muscle relaxant, an antiseptic, an estrogenic, an antispasmodic, a diuretic, a breath freshener, a diaphoretic and a carminative.

Here are some of the conditions that can be effectively treated with anise tea. Anemia is one of them. The anise promotes the absorption of iron, helping the digestion and relieving the anemia. Asthma is another ailment that can be cured with anise. When inhaled, the essential oil can ease the nasal congestion and the breathing. That’s why the plant is also beneficial for bronchitis. If you have bad breath you can use the anise tea as a mouthwash. It will immediately sweeten the breath. In catarrh, the tea calms the mucous membranes. The colic can be also cured with anise tea. It efficiently alleviates the gas, the flatulence and the gas pains.

One of the main uses of anise tea is for colds. It calms the sore throat and eases the pain, it acts like an expectorant being extremely beneficial for dry, hard coughs when there is no expectoration. Children can drink anise tea to get rid of persistent cough. The emphysema can also be cured with this tea. It eases the breathing and helps you get rid of the nasal congestion.

Menopause is another condition that can be treated with anise tea. It calms the menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. It also relieves the menstrual cramps and alleviates the morning sickness that can occur to pregnant women. Moreover, the tea is beneficial for the pancreas. It regulates the hormones and the insulin and reduces the risk for hormonal problems and diabetes. The anise tea calms the toothaches, acts like an anti-parasitic and aphrodisiac, prevents insomnia, relaxes the body and eliminates the hiccups. It reduces the fevers, the dyspeptic complaints, the inflammations of the throat and mouth and the loss of appetite.

You can give anise tea to children and infants to relieve their colic. For people of all ages, the anise helps the fats to be transformed into fatty acids and enhances the flow of the different digestive juices that can be found in the stomach.

In the homeopathic medicine, the anise reduces the lumbago and the shoulder pain and the tea can be effectively used as eyewash. The volatile anise oil can even repel or kill various insects. Furthermore, Pimpinella Major, a related species eliminates the bacterial infections from the urinary tract. It also heals wounds and varicose veins.

  • Medical benefits

Various studies were conducted in order to discover the benefits of the anise tea. Researchers throughout the world found out that this beverage can treat numerous ailments. The recent pharmacology studies have shown that the active substances in the anise and its rough extracts have many pharmacological activities, like convulsive, antimicrobial, sedative, antibacterial, analgesic, insecticidal and antioxidant.

Some case studies found out that the anise can produce shikimic acid, which is the major compound in Tamiflu, an anti flu drug. This specific acid is created by autotrophic organisms. However, the anise is the main source. It is so widely used for this purpose that in 2005, there was a shortage of anise. Most of it was cultivated for making the Tamiflu.

An important study was conducted in Russia. A number of aviation flight controllers were given a combination of lavender oils, brandy mint and anise. This was shown to reduce the mental fatigue. Another study published on the PubMed.gov site shows a study that reveals the effects of anise on curing the colic of small children. The study was conducted by the Department of Pediatrics of the Miami Children’s Hospital and showed that the anise tea often contains some varieties of anise that can be extremely dangerous. It also revealed that the anise tea given to infants can cause gastrointestinal and neurological toxicities. The conclusion was that the anise tea it’s not recommended for infants.

However, much more studies have to be conducted in order to know the exact effects of anise tea. Until further researches, people should be cautious when taking it. Specialists advise people not to ingest it in more than several milligrams. There were also reported some cases of side effects, mainly because of its estrogenic compounds. Sometimes, ingested in large amounts, the anise tea can cause pulmonary edema, seizures, vomiting, nausea and skin irritations. Specialists warn people that the Japanese Star Anise is a totally different plant that’s extremely poisonous.

  • Processing, how to make anise tea?

The anise tea is commonly used in the Middle East and as you see it’s extremely beneficial for numerous ailments. Because it’s scented and sweet, it’s also very relaxing. Even if you’ve tasted it in cookies and bread, the tea has a stronger taste and fragrance.

The tea is made from the leaves and the seeds of the plant. They are aromatic and sweet and have a similar taste to tarragon, fennel and licorice. Thus, anytime you feel the need you can make yourself a hot and beneficial cup of anise tea.

There are many recipes for making anise tea. Here is one of the most common. You need 2 tea bags of anise, 2 teaspoons of anise leaves or seeds and 3 cups of boiling water. In order to prepare it you need to boil one and half cups of water together with the tea bags and the other one and half cups of water with the anise leaves or seeds. After that you can let it steep for about 10 minutes and then you can mix the 2 types of tea. Before you pour it into the cup, you can take away the leaves and the seeds and leave the tea clear. When you serve it you can add honey or sugar and lemon.

For an infusion of anise you need 250 ml of boiled water and 1 teaspoon of anise seeds. You have to boil them together for half a minute. It’s better to drink daily one cup of tea after meal. In order to make a decoction of anise, you need 1 liter of water and 30 milligrams of anise roots. Boil them for up to 30 minutes and drink daily one cup after meal.

There is also a recipe with dried and fresh leaves. The ingredients are 1 teaspoon of dried leaves, 2 teaspoons of fresh leaves and 1 cup of boiling water. Put them together and let them steep for about 10 minutes. Add honey or sugar and serve it hot.

A stronger anise tea can be made of one teaspoon of crushed seeds, caraway and fennel. Add them to one cup of boiling water. This tea calms the gas pains and the gas. If you want to use it for coughs you can add licorice, hyssop, marsh mallow and coltsfoot. Give only one teaspoon of tea to children.

Anise is also very beneficial when used in cooking. The fresh leaves and the florets may be put in garnishes and salads. The leaves can also be used as seasoning. The seeds can even be ingested whole. You can take up to 3 teaspoons of seeds daily.

You can also prepare an essential oil. This is very beneficial for inhalation. You can even take it orally in doses of 0.3 grams daily. Moreover, the liqueur anisette can also be used for medicinal purposes, because it contains the anise essential oil. It can be taken with hot water in order to treat the problems of the bronchial tubes, for example the spasmodic asthma and the bronchitis. A dose of 3 drops of anise essential oil can calm the colic.

© 2015 Andreea Mihalache

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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 

      3 years ago

      I am not a fan of black licorice but the health benefits are intriguing.

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