Teaching Tuesdays - Anice, Getting the Most From this Licorice Scented Herb

A new acquittance and I were speaking in a soap forum the other day, about the benefits of herbal treatments and essential oils. Since most of you know that is a favorite topic of mine, I decided that I would delve into this subject again, trying to describe some that I neglected in the past. 

Anise (Seed), a licorice flavored (and scented) spice is used for a great many things, perhaps, predominately liquors, from Greek the ouzo to the French pastis, however, aside from its use as a flavoring agent, it, like most herbs and spices, has several [other] applications. Aniseed has been used medicinally since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They frequently prescribed it for an assortment of issues, including relieving gassiness and bad breath, stimulating milk production in lactating Mothers, and helping to release excess phlegm. 

Today, herb experts believe that some of the ancient uses were spot on in regards to their claims, predominately, the ability of anise to benefit the digestive system. Anise is known to relieve gas, calm upset stomaches, and even relieve colic in infants. It is very safe for anyone to try, and, in fact, it has the same properties that dill and fennel have, which is what makes it effective for colic relief. To make a tea for an infant, dilute 1/2 cup of an anise seed tea with 1/2 cup of water, making sure that it is cool before offering it. For an adult who has stomach issues, or needs to have gas relieved, crush one teaspoon of aniseed and mix it into one cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep for 10-20 minutes and drink when cool enough. You can drink up to three cups per day, however, Dr. A. Duke, botanist, and author of The CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, recommends adding peppermint leaf (either fresh or dried) for to enhance the digestive relief.

The essential oil, pimpinella anisum, is steam distilled from the seeds of the anise herb. This is not the same as star anise, and they are not related. Anise, generally produced in China, India and Spain, produces a warm, spicy, sweet, licorice aroma. Because of its scent, it is frequently used in the making of pipe tobacco, as well as the liquors previously mentioned. It has some antiseptic qualities, along with antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, and  emmenagogue ones. (See definitions of underlined words on the Reference page, link at top of blog) Emmenagogue means a drug or agent that induces or hastens menstrual flow, which is one reason that this EO should never be used by a pregnant woman. 

Because of the properties noted, this EO is often used in preparations/ medications/ treatments to relieve symptoms of colds, bronchitis, coughs, and asthma, as well as, colic, gassiness, muscular aches, cramps, indigestion, and even rheumatism. Many people have nicknamed this EO scent "the Fishermans Friend". Supposedly fish are attracted to the scent, and the human scent is masked by its fragrance, which allows the fisherman to bait his pole without worry about off-putting his potential catch. When taken internally it helps with dry, irritating coughs, whooping cough and bronchitis. A drop can be taken with water to help with digestion, or the oil can be added to honey when taken for coughs or digestive ailments. Although this EO's use can be quite beneficial in several regards, it must be used in moderation because it acts as a narcotic, slowing down circulation, when it's present in large quantities. In fact, misuse can even lead to brain disorders. As with all EO's knowledge, care and careful use is necessary, but with these, we can benefit from the plants and their oils.

*See the reference page, link at the top of this page, for definitions and bibliography.

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