Anise (Pimpinella anisum) Health Benefits, Uses and Caution

Anise seed has several health benefits. It has expectorant properties and good for digestion. Learn how to use this.

Anise or aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) is a famous sweet spice similar to fennel and liquorice. It is used to flavour dishes, drinks, and candies. It is a Mediterranean plant belonging to parsley family but now grown all over world for its seeds. Anise is introduced and cultivated in India in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Punjab.

Anise is used as a herbal medicine. It has expectorant action and is excellent for breaking up mucus in the body. The seeds are also used as home remedy for digestive disorders such as cramping in the bowels, colic and flatulence. It is very calming, soothing the nervous system and alleviating sleeplessness.

Anise Tea is very effective way to consuming this herb. Know Anise Tea Recipe and Health Benefits in my post.

General Information

Plant Description:

An annual plant growing up to 0.3 to 0.6 m.

Stem: Erect, branched, solid, round, jointed, striated, slightly rough or downy, and rises about a foot in height.

Leaf: Feather shaped; lower leaves roundish, indistinctly 3-5 lobed, unequally toothed, and stand upon scored sheath-like footstalks; upper leaves divided into narrow, pinnated acute segments.

Root: Tapering and woody.

Flowers: Small yellow-white, compound umbels; Calyx none. Petals inversely heart-shaped, nearly equal, inflected, white, about 15 mm long, and have a ciliate margin. They have small bristles on the outside and a long indented tip. Stigma subglobose.

Fruit: Ovate, separable into two parts, and crowned with the long, capillary, permanent styles. Fruit contains 2 to 6% of a volatile oil composed mostly of trans-anethole (80 to 95%), with smaller amounts of estragole (methyl chavicol), β-caryophyllene and anise ketone (p methoxyphenylacetone). Natural coumarins present include scopoletin, umbelliferone, umbelliprenine and bergapten, and there are numerous flavonoids present, including quercetin, apigenin and luteolin.

Seeds: Greenish-brown, ovate-oblong, striated; externally convex, each with five rather prominent ribs, the interstices rugose; flat on the inner surface with a longitudinal rib in the middle.

Native to: Egypt

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Seeds, essential oil from the dried fruit

Plant type / Growth Habit: Herb

Duration: Annual

Distribution: Cultivated mainly in southern Europe, Turkey, central Asia, India, China, Japan, Central and South America.

Habitat: Light, fertile, well-drained soil

Anise Essential Oil

Anise essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the seeds. This essential oil has an antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, insecticidal, antiviral, antispasmodic, insect repellent and expectorant effect.

In animal experiments it has been shown to be expectorant, spasmolytic and estrogenic activities. The oil is used in the treatment of lice, scabies, and psoriasis.

Vernacular Names / Synonyms

  1. Bengali: Muhuri
  2. English: Anise, Aniseed, Sweet cumin, Anisi Fructus, Anisum
  3. Hindi: Motajeera, Badiyan Rumee, Sauph, Anisoon
  4. Kannada: Kaadu sompu, Sompu
  5. Malayalam: Bade sompu
  6. Marathi: Anisuna Shopa
  7. Sanskrit: Sthula Jeerakam, Shvetapushpa, Anisuna
  8. Scientific name: Pimpinella anisum
  9. Tamil: Sombu, Shombu

Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are the Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and the botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of the same plant.

The botanical name of Anise is Pimpinella anisum. The generic name Pimpinella is a corruption of bipinella, or bipennula, referring to pinnate or feather-like structure of the plant. The specific term anisum is derived from the Arabic word ‘anysum’. It is originally found in Egypt but is now cultivated in Europe, Russia, Spain, Holland, Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Cyprus and many other places.

It belongs to plant family Apiaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of the plant.

Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)

Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)

Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)

Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)

Subclass: Rosidae

Order: Apiales

Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae – Carrot family

Genus: Pimpinella L. – burnet saxifrage

Species: Pimpinella anisum L. – anise burnet saxifrage


  1. Anisum vulgare Gaertn.
  2. Anisum herbariis.

It should not to be confused with Star anise which is Illicium verum.

Constituents of Pimpinella anisum

The constituent of anise depends on various factors but average composition is given below:

Volatile oil (2 to 6%): Chief constituent trans-anethole (94%), including as well chavicol methyl ether (estragole, 2%), anis aldehyde (1.4%) Caffeic acid derivatives: including chlorogenic acid (0.1%), other caffeoyl quinic acids.

Flavonoids: Flavonol (quercetin) and flavone (apigenin, luteolin) glycosides, e.g. quercetin-3-glucuronide, rutin, luteolin-7-glucoside, apigenin-7-glucoside; isoorientin and isovitexin (C-glucosides), luteolin-7-O-glucoside.

Fatty oil (30%)

Proteic substances (20%)

Other constituents: Carbohydrate (50%), lipids 16% (saturated and unsaturated), b-amyrin (triterpene), stigmasterol (phytosterol) and its palmitate and stearate salts.

Important Medicinal Properties

Pimpinella anisum is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Abortifacient: Induces abortion.
  2. Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  3. Anticatarrhal: Remove excess mucous from the body.
  4. Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  5. Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  6. Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
  7. Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  8. Mild oestrogenic: Having an action similar to that of an estrogen. Estrogen (American English) or oestrogen (British English) is the primary female sex hormone, stimulate changes in the female reproductive organs during the oestrous cycle, and promote development of female secondary sexual characteristics.

Indications and Usage of Anise

  1. Bronchial catarrh
  2. Catarrhs of the respiratory tract (internally and externally)
  3. Common cold
  4. Cough/bronchitis, spasmodic cough
  5. Dyspeptic complaints
  6. Fevers and colds
  7. Flatulent colic
  8. Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  9. Loss of appetite
  10. Pertussis
  11. Topically for pediculosis and scabies

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Anise is not indigenous to India. It was introduced to India and now cultivated in various states. Anise is known as Shvetpushpa, Sthula Jeerakam and Anisuna in Sanskrit. It is bitter, sweet and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).

It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has the property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives a feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.

  • Rasa (taste on the tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

Anise is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka). It is carminative, antiemetic and thermogenic. It is useful in indigestion, low appetite, nausea and piles.

Ayurvedic Action

  1. Anulomna: Takes vata / wind downward, mild laxative.
  2. Deepana. Promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food /Stomachic.
  3. Rakshoghna: Bacteriological action
  4. Artavajanana: Inducing menstruation / Emmenagogue.
  5. Vayuhar: Antiflatulant

Anise is used in Ayurveda for Shula, Adhmana, Kaphavikara, Mutraghata, Balagraha.

Medicinal Uses of Anise / Pimpinella anisum

Anise seeds are aromatic and sweet. They have warming taste. The seeds contain essential oil which is stimulant, carminative, and expectorant. The seeds are indicated in dyspepsia, flatulence, diarrhea, and dropsy (Abnormal accumulation of serous fluid in cellular tissues or body cavities).

In folk medicine, Anise is used internally for whooping cough, flatulence, colic-like pain, as a digestive, for menstruation disturbances, the liver disease and tuberculosis. In homeopathic anise is used for shoulder pain and lumbago. The seeds are given in the form of seeds, powder, infusion or tea to increase milk secretion, promote menstruation, facilitate birth, alleviate symptoms of the male climacteric and increase libido.

1- Flatulence and colicky pain

The mixture of 2 parts of celery seeds (ajmoda) and 1 part each of anise seeds and sugar is given.

2- Vomiting due to biliousness or fever

Powder made up of 2 parts of anise seeds, 5 parts of fennel seeds, 4 parts of Trikatu and 2 parts of dill Seeds (soya ke bija) is given in a dose of 1-5 grams.

3- Vitiated vata and pitta, Improving digestion

Anise seeds are given.

4- Cold-cough, expectorant

The prepared from anise seeds in taken.

5- Palpitation of the heart

Equal quantities of aniseed, dry coriander, and jaggery is taken and powdered. 6 grams of this mixed powder should be taken after each meal.

6- Other Uses

  • It is used as a substitute for fennel seeds.
  • It is used as a flavouring and condiments.
  • Anise oil is used for flavouring many beverages.

The Dosage of Pimpinella anisum

  1. Anise is generally taken in dosage of 0.5 to 3 g of seed or 0.1 to 0.3 mL of the essential oil.
  2. The anise seeds infusion is taken as single dose, in a dose of 0.5 to 1 g before the meals.
  3. For external application, inhalation of the essential oil is done.
  4. The tea is taken for cold-cough.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects, and Warnings Pimpinella anisum

  1. No health hazards or side effects are known when taken in the recommended dosage.
  2. It has abortifacient action. It should not be used as a medicine in pregnancy.
  3. It may interact with oestrogen containing birth control pills.
  4. It may cause allergic reactions of the skin, respiratory tract, and GI tract.
  5. Intake of oil can cause pulmonary edema, vomiting, and seizures.
  6. Aniseed oil should be avoided in dermatitis, and inflammatory or allergic skin conditions.
  7. Aniseed should be avoided by persons with known sensitivity to anethole.

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