The health benefits of Anise Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an anti-epileptic, anti-hysteric, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, aperient, carminative, cordial, decongestant, digestive, expectorant, insecticide, sedative, stimulant and vermifuge substance.
Since ancient times, anise has been in use as a spice and flavoring agent for food stuffs and beverages. It is also employed to flavor liquors. In India and certain other countries, anise is also used as a mouth freshener and digestive agent. The medicinal properties of this herb were known long ago in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The essential oil of anise is extracted by steam distillation of dried fruits of anise, or Pimpinella Anisum, as it is known in botanical terminology, which yields a thin and clear oil of which Anethol is the prime constituent, consisting of about 90 percent of it and is also responsible for its characteristic aroma. The other constituents are alpha pinene, anisaldehyde, beta pinene, camphene, linalool, cis & trans-anethol, safrol, and acetoanisol.
Let us see what is known about anise and what medicinal properties have been discovered so far.
Health Benefits of Anise Essential Oil
Anti-epileptic & Anti-hysteric: Since anise essential oil has a narcotic and sedative effect, it can calm down epileptic and hysteric attacks by slowing down circulation, respiration and nervous response, if administered in higher dosages. This is contrary to its stimulating and cordial properties, which are shown when administered in lower dosages. It is found effective in sedating nervous afflictions, hyper reactions and convulsions as well. This property has been known and utilized for a very long time. However, this property should be used with caution, as heavy dosages can have adverse effects, particularly in children.
Antirheumatic: This oil can give relief from rheumatic and arthritic pains by stimulating blood circulation, and by reducing the sensation of pain in the affected areas.
Antiseptic: This essential oil also has antiseptic properties and give wounds an effective protective layer against infections and sepsis. This aids in the faster healing of wounds.
Antispasmodic: Situations or ailments caused by spasms are cramps, coughs, aches, diarrhea, nervous afflictions and convulsions. Spasms are an excessive contraction of the respiratory tracts, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and internal organs that result in severe coughs, cramps, convulsions, obstructed blood circulations, aches in the stomach and chest and other symptoms. The essential oil of anise, being a relaxant and an anti-spasmodic by nature, relax these contractions and give relief from the ailments mentioned above.
Aperient: This oil has mild purgative properties, but is safe to use. Unlike other synthetic or harsh purgatives, it is not hard on the stomach and liver and does not leave you exhausted and fatigued. When taken in low dosages, it helps clear motions and cures constipation, resultant flatulence, and indigestion.
Carminative: Only those who are suffering from gas know what a relief it is to get rid of it. Gas is not funny at all. It is a very serious ailment and must be treated in a timely manner. It gives rise to indigestion, flatulence, acute chest pain, stomach aches, muscular cramps and pains, rheumatism in the long run, heaviness, hypertension and even problems like hair loss and reduction of eyesight, if it becomes chronic. Anise essential oil promotes the removal of gases and as a digestive, it does not let it form, as indigestion is the cause of excess gas.
Cordial: The warming effect of this oil on the respiratory and the circulatory systems makes it a cordial. This property helps counter colds, the deposition of phlegm, and problems like rheumatism and arthritis.
Decongestant: This oil of anise is very effective in clearing congestion in the lungs and the respiratory tracts for conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
Digestive: This property of anise and anise essential oil is very commonly used to promote digestion. It has been an old practice to chew Anise seeds, to serve desserts containing Anise, or to have a glass of warm water with few drops of anise essential oil in it to aid digestion, especially after a heavy meal or a feast.
Expectorant: This oil is really remarkable as an expectorant and this property earned it an impressive reputation. It loosens mucus or phlegm deposited in the lungs and respiratory tracts and gives relief from cough, heaviness in the chest, breathing troubles, asthma, bronchitis, congestion and other respiratory disorders. Due to the presence of this essential oil in the seeds, the seeds are used for smoking to loosen catarrh or phlegm.
Insecticide: The essential oil of anise is toxic to insects and smaller animals, therefore its smell keeps insects away. For this reason, this oil can be employed to drive away insects by using it in fumigants, vaporizers, and sprays.
Sedative: Due to its somewhat narcotic or numbing effects, it is used as a sedative for anxiety, nervous afflictions, depression, anger, and stress as well as for symptoms such as insomnia due to its tranquilizing and relaxing effects. This effect is particularly visible when it is used in higher dosages, since in very small doses, it acts as a stimulant. However, the utmost care should be taken while administering it in heavy doses, keeping in view its narcotic effects.
Stimulant: The stimulating property of anise essential oil can benefit us in the following ways. It can stimulate circulation and give relief from rheumatism and arthritis, stimulate secretion of enzymes and hormones, thus boosting the whole metabolism and finally, it can stimulate the nervous system and the brain to make us more active and alert.
Vermifuge: This is yet another aspect of its insecticidal property. It can kill worms found in the intestines. This property can be particularly beneficial for children, as they are most commonly afflicted with intestinal worms.
Other Benefits: It can be used to treat colic, flatulence, and pectoral affections.
A Few Words of Caution: In heavy doses, it has narcotic effects and slows down respiration and circulation. It is poisonous to certain small animals and birds and therefore children should not be given high doses. Furthermore, it may cause irritation to certain skin types. It is best to avoid it during pregnancy. It may also aggravate certain types of cancers caused due to its effect on the estrogen hormone.