Star anise, scientific name Illicium verum, is an evergreen plant characterized by woody fruits formed by 8-12 lobes arranged in a star with a seed inside each lobe. It is precisely this form that gives the name to the star anise plant. The star anise fruits are used in herbal medicine for their carminative and digestive properties. But let's explore the action of this spice and its uses.
Star anise, properties
Star anise is appreciated for its antiviral properties. In fact, as reported in the literature, star anise contains a substance, called shikimic acid, used in turn for the production of a drug to treat influenza A and B (Patra et al, Phytother Res, 2020). Not only that, star anise is also antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, antifungal, deworming, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, gastroprotective, antispasmodic and sedative (Patra et al, Phytother Res, 2020). Thanks to its active ingredient, star anise also proves to be antimicrobial, effective against bacteria, fungi and yeasts (De et al, Phytother Res, 2002). In fact, thanks to this action, star anise also shows the ability to fight urinary tract infections (Rath et al, Integr Med Res, 2014). Finally, star anise is carminative, stomachic and diuretic (Wei et al, J Insect Sci, 2014).
Star anise, uses
This spice with such a fascinating shape that recalls the period of holidays and joy has an aroma similar to that of licorice. Therefore, it is really very pleasant! You can find star anise powder as an ingredient in the Garam masala Indian spice mix, which can be used to flavor different types of dishes, from soups, to meat or rice dishes. But the star anise herbal tea is also beneficial, excellent to drink in case of disorders of the urinary tract or difficult digestion. To prepare it, bring a cup of water to the boil, remove from the heat and add 3 pieces of star anise. For higher digestive action, you can add also half a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Let it sit for ten minutes, then filter and, once it is lukewarm, drink.
Star anise, warnings and contraindications
Star anise is generally considered safe even if allergies have been reported in predisposed people (Hirschfeld et al, Allergy, 2008). Do not give star anise to children because, in case of products of poor quality, a contamination with another type of spice from the same family of star anise may occur. This spice may result neurotoxic in newborns (Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2013 ).