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Anise Essential Oil Everything you need to know

Anise Essential Oil

What is Anise Essential Oil?

Anise essential oil is a substance extracted from the seeds of the plant called Pimpinella anisum. 

The essential oil is located primarily in the woody shell and, to a lesser extent, in the seed.  An elevated moisture content and excessively high temperature create a risk of self-heating. 

It is extracted from the seeds of the plant by steam distillation.  Anise oil is not soluble in water but in alcohol. Occasionally, it may require heating before use, as it may solidify at low temperatures.

Anise oil is a pale yellow liquid, almost colorless; highly aromatic in odor; and has a sweetish burning flavor, similar to licorice. 

Pimpinella Anisum is often confused with fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) because both plants come from the Apiaceae family and have similar flavor. Anise is also confused with another herb called Chinese star anise (Illicium verum), which is widely used in Asian countries and is the main ingredient to make the drug Tamiflu.

However, although they come from very different plants, anise and star anise oil have an extraordinary similarity, because their main component, anethole, is the major component in both (from 80% to 95% or more).

Anise oil blends well with essential oils of thyme, pine, peppermint, cedarwood, rose, turmeric, lemon, ginger, lavender, jasmine, gardenia, neroli, orange, bergamot, grapefruit, and tangerine, among others. 

About Pimpinella Anisum

Pimpinella Anisum L. belongs to the family Apiaceae, also known as Umbelliferae. It is a herbaceous annual plant with stem about one foot high, erect, smooth, slightly branched.

Anise Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

Its leaves are numerous, lower ones are cordate and cuneate-lobed, middle ones are pinnatelobed, and upper ones are trifid. The flowers are small and white; the fruits are oval, striate with five ridges, with a few scattered hairs of a peculiar greenish tint.

P. anisum is endemic in Asia Minor, Egypt (where it is used since ancient times as aromatic herb), and Greece,  certain areas of Europe (Spain, Italy, Germany, Southern Russia) and South America. It is cultivated in Turkey, Russia, South Africa, Latin America, and Brazil.

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Anise fruits, which are commercially called “seeds”, are used as flavorings and crude drug. The essential oil from anise fruits is used in food processing, perfumes, toothpaste, and in medicine.

Anise in History

This incredible herb has been used for more than 1000 years in traditional Chinese medicine due to its multiple properties. The anise not only balances health, but also has culinary uses, thanks to its characteristic spicy-sweet flavor and its exquisite aroma.

Star anise is also a widely used species because its digestive, diuretic, and antidiarrheal effects, among others. It is reddish brown and owes its name to the star shape it has.

Although anise is native to Asia, it is common to find it in Mediterranean countries. Nowadays, it is produced in Spain, France and Russia, but it also grows in the wild in other countries.

Great civilizations saw in this generous plant the cure of their health conditions or a tasty dressing for their meals.

The Romans aromatized a cake called “musteceus”, the Greeks ingested this delicious oil to soothe their digestive ailments or discomforts, and the Egyptians used to dip the bread in this oil. 

Active Principles of Anise Essential Oil 

The essential oil extracted from steam distillation of ripe fruits of both Illicium verum and Pimpinella anisum contains trans-anethole from 80% to 95% or more, responsible for its characteristic taste and smell, as well as for its medicinal properties. It is Followed by chavicol methyl ether (estragole), anisaldehyde and cis-anethole.

In addition, Pimpinella anisum composition includes: coumarins (umbelliferone, umbelliprenine, bergapten, and scopoletin), lipids (fatty acids, beta-amyrin, stigmasterol and its salts), flavonoids (flavonol, flavone, glycosides, rutin, isoorientin, and isovitexin), proteins and carbohydrates, among others.

Properties of Anise Essential Oil

Anise essential oil is well known as a carminative and an expectorant, and it is also used to decrease bloating, especially in pediatric patients.

At higher doses, it is used as an antispasmodic and antiseptic, and in vitro studies have also reported an antimicrobial action. 

However, these are not the only therapeutic contributions contained in this amazing oil. Among its many other properties we can find: digestive,  chemopreventive, expectorant, diuretic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, oestrogenic, carminative, stomachic, emmenagogue, antioxidant, sedative, insecticide, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, insecticidal, anti-flu drug and sexual stimulant properties.

10 Uses of Anise Essential Oil

There is a wide range of uses for anise essential oil. It can be used both, for cooking and for adding flavor to medicines. Here we show some of its most common uses:

1. Ingredient for antitussive syrups

Anethole and anise oil have antibacterial, antifungal and stimulant properties. For this reason, this oil is often used in medicine, such as syrups and cough pills.

2. Flavoring agent

Serves to flavor food and drinks, being a common ingredient in salads and soups.

3. Food processing

Anise oils is used in processed meats such as sausages, pepperoni and similar products.

4. Lice removal

It Serves as an alternative to the chemical treatments to eliminate lice.

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5. Insecticide

Natural insecticide.  It is a toxic oil for insects.

6. For oral health

Ingredient added to toothpastes and mouth rinses.

7. As a fragrance

Excellent to aromatize soaps, detergents and skin lotions.

8. Aphrodisiac 

9. Treatment for skin diseases

10. Relaxing

Benefits of Anise Essential Oil  

The therapeutic benefits of anise were recognized and used by many ancient civilizations. Today, many pharmaceutical products include the benefits of anise, adding the herb to certain medications such as cough and throat syrups.

To maximize the benefits of this herb, we recommend using it in its natural form or as an essential oil.

Vitamin A and C, minerals such as zinc and magnesium, as well as tannins,are substances contained in high amounts in anise essential oil.

It is also an excellent antioxidant giving pleasant benefits to our skin.

Star anise is not the same as the green or common anise, but they have similarity in their active principle, which indicates that their properties are the same.

Among anise oil benefits are:


Stimulates the expulsion of gases from the digestive system and deflates the abdomen, swollen belly or flatulence. Likewise, helps relieve abdominal cramps caused by indigestion.

Glucose Absorption and Diabetes

The effect of anise essential oil on glucose absorption was studied by Kreydiyyeh et al. The study showed that the oil added to the perfusion buffer and administered in rats’ jejunum increase significantly the absorption of glucose from the small intestine.

The role of anise in people affected by diabetes was reported in a work. It showed that the administration of 5 gr per day of anise seed powders for 60 days decrease the fasting blood glucose, the serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve the serum high density lipoprotein (HDL) in type 2 diabetes patients.

The antidiabetic and hypolipidemic activities exhibited by the seeds are a result of the synergistic action of the bioactive compounds present in the anise seeds, and demonstrate the possible use of anise essential oil in the treatment of hyperglycemia.

Digestive and eupeptic

This incredible oil promotes digestion and prevents constipation. Its consumption is recommended to people suffering from hiposecretory dyspepsia and loss of appetite.

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In a randomized clinical trial conducted on 20 patients with chronic constipation, the laxative effect of a phytotherapic compound containing P. anisum L., Foeniculum vulgare Miller, Sambucus nigra L., and Cassia augustifolia was investigated.

The two end points of the study were the measurement of the colonic transit time and the number of evacuation per day.

The results revealed the laxative effect of phytotherapic compound compared to the placebo, demonstrating the use of this compound as a possible cure for constipation.

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Stimulant and diuretic

Anise Essential Oil is effective in treating fluid retention, helping in the elimination of toxins and liquids accumulated in our body.

Anti-oxidant Effect

Free radicals, in particular the reactive oxygen species -ROS- haves been shown to cause cellular injury and haves been considered as one of the most important factors in the etiology of various diseases like diabetes mellitus, cancer and stroke.

Besides, free radicals determine damage to cellular DNA and are the precursors of carcinogenesis.  A substantial amount of data from epidemiological studies indicate that diet has positive impact on the multistage process of chemical carcinogenesis.

In scientific literature, several studies demonstrated the influence of anise and I. verum on cells oxidation, showing the beneficial effect of anethole on the interruption of carcinogenesis.

Gulcin et al. evaluated the antioxidant properties of water and ethanolic extracts of P. anisum, comparing the activities with synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and α-tocopherol. Both extracts of P. anisum showed strong antioxidant activity, reducing superoxide anion scavenging, hydrogen peroxide scavenging, and metal chelating activities compared to BHA, BHT, and α-tocopherol.


It is also effective against conditions  associated with spasms, such as cramps, diarrhea, seizures and muscle aches; thanks to its relaxing and antispasmodic effects.


Due to its expectorant properties relieves cough, bronchitis and stimulates the expulsion of phlegm.

Gastrointestinal Disorder

The beneficial effects of anise essential oil in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorder are reported in several studies.

A study demonstrated the antacid action of the plant, showing that anise suspension enhances ethanol-induced gastric wall mucus depletion in rats, confirming the ability of anise to prevent and/or ameliorate the effects of damaging agents on gastric mucosa.

Furthermore, the methanol extract of P. anisum seeds inhibits the in vitro growth of Helicobacter pylori, the gramnegative bacterium which represents an etiological factor for gastrointestinal disorders, representing a potential compound useful in the treatment of gastric diseases.

Estrogenic Effect

Pimpinella anisum has been used as estrogenic agents for millennia especially due to the anethole, which is considered the active estrogenic agent.

Investigating the anise plant was demonstrated the estrogenic role of it, which increase the milk secretion, promote menstruation, facilitate birth, alleviate the symptoms of the male climacteric, and increase libido.

The estrogenic role of anise essential oil is also showed in other research, which demonstrated, in a double blind clinical trials on 72 postmenopausal women, that the consumption of 300mg of anise extract for 4 weeks, leads to significant reduction in hot flash frequency, caused by the decrease and cessation of estrogen secretion.


Helps to normalize menstruation.


Thanks to the anethole and caryophyllene present in this plant, it produces a great relief to joint discomfort. Additionally, relieves arthritic and rheumatic pain.

Helps control episodes of epilepsy

It can help relieve epileptic and hysterical episodes.  A study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that anise essential oil reduced not only the duration but also the frequency of epileptic seizures.

In addition, researchers believe that anise helps protect the synapses in the brain, which misfire during an epileptic seizure.

Anise Essential Oil

Antimicrobial and antibacterial

Anise essential oil can be exploited against Stafilococco aureus responsible for bases, sepses and skin infection; Streptococcus haemolyticus causing infection of the throat and nose; and Bacillus subtilis responsible for infection in immune compromised patients.

The oil can also be used to control Pseudomonas aeruginosa which causes hospital acquired infection; Escherichia coli, responsible for urinogenital tract infections and diarrhea; Klebsella spp and Proteus vulgaris.

These results are confirmed, showing the antibacterial activity of anise by demonstrating that the plant has a relevant role against clinical and standard strains of S. aureus and E. coli.

On the other hand, Anethole, the predominant active ingredient of anise, has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which is useful against Candida albicans and fungal strains such as Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Fusarium and Penicillin.

Anise plant, thanks to its active compounds, could be used in pharmaceutical preparations as natural antibiotics.


In addition, helps to clean and heal wounds, protecting against infections.


People suffering from colds, coughs and flu can experience relief after using anise essential oil for its decongestant effects. The oil releases the mucus in the respiratory tract and relieves breathing problems.

These effects are also likely to play a beneficial role in the treatment of inflammation of mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. This indication is also made plausible by the secretolytic and expectorant effects exhibited by anethole, a main component of anise oil.


Stimulates the production of maternal milk.

Enhancer of sexual desire

Already in ancient times, its properties as an aphrodisiac and an enhancer of libido were known.

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How to apply Anise Essential Oil?

Like other essential oils, before use it must be diluted in carrier oil, since it is highly concentrated. Preferably use almond oil,  coconut oil, rosehip oil or wheat germ oil.

Once diluted, the oil works best when inhaled. It can also be applied topically as massage. Here are some specific ways you can experience its benefits:

  • Stomach cramps: Mix five drops of anise essential oil with a tablespoon of almond oil and massage your stomach.
  • Respiratory affections (colds, cough, flu and asthma): Place two to three drops in a diffuser, (or use it in vapor inhalation) to eliminate mucus and phlegm.
  • To treat hiccups: Use two or three drops in steam inhalation.
  • Refreshing the breath: Mix one to two drops with warm water and use it to gargle.
  • Menstrual pain: Add two to three drops in a carrier oil and massage the affected area.
  • Nausea, migraines and dizziness: Place two or three drops on a cloth and inhale.

Anise Essential Oil

Cosmetic uses of Anise Essential Oil

For Hair

Anise oil is considered by the cosmetic industry an ally for the integral beauty of our body, especially  hair care.

Applied directly, diluted in water, added in styling creams, or in our favorite conditioner.  As a result, we will obtain shine, hydration and capillary regeneration.

Skin Care

Anise essential is ideal for the skin, mainly for its high content of antioxidants and vitamin C.

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Naturally, it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, also contains tannins (flavonoids) which help us to maintain the elasticity and smoothness of our skin.

The composition of this spice is what gives it the ability to have an effect similar to that of botox on our face. 

By including anise oil to our facial beauty routine, we will be able to prevent wrinkles and fine lines, while  attenuate the existing ones.


Is Anise Essential Oil useful for weight loss?

It helps you maintain greater absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, thus balancing your metabolism.

Furthermore, eugenol, linalool and thymol are components present in this spice which provide calm to your nerves.  For this reason, it acts as a natural sedative, controlling the anxiety for food.

You can consume it fasting or at night as an infusion or tea, using a flower for each cup or adding a few drops of oil in the water.

Aromatherapy and Anise Essential Oil

Anise essential oil is used in aromatherapy to facilitate to ease difficulty in breathing. There is also thought to be an aphrodisiac, though the action is unclear from any source.

In several references it is said to be specifically a female aphrodisiac, while in others it is said to enhance libido and alleviate symptoms of male climacteric. 

Besides, it relieves depression, anxiety, stress, and nervousness. It also has a relaxing effect that can ease insomnia problems.

Is Anise Essential Oil safe?

Anethole and Estragol found in the seeds of anise have a structure similar to that of a compound called safrole, a known carcinogen.

Although Anethole and Estragol demonstrated toxicity in rodents, generally, anise oil is safe for human consumption. It is not dangerous for humans when it is consumed or used sparingly.

However, when used or consumed in high doses, it could probably aggravate certain types of cancers because its estrogenic agent.

Parents should also avoid applying any essential oil on the delicate skin of infants and young children.

It should not be administered to pregnant women or during breastfeeding period.

Avoid consumption in children under 2 years old. Always consult your trusted doctor.

Rare cases of contact dermatitis to anethole containing preparations have been reported.

Anise contains furocoumarins which can cause photosensitivity reactions.

People with known sensitivity to aniseed or to Apiaceae, (Umbelliferae) (caraway, celery, coriander, dill and fennel) or to anethole should avoid the use of aniseed preparations and anise oil.

Preparations with high aniseed content (> 5 g) should not be taken for more than two weeks without medical advice.

Side effects of Anise Essential Oil

As in the case of other oils, anise oil can cause allergic reactions in some people. Therefore,  avoid this oil if you have allergies to pollen or celery.

Above all, discontinue use and go to your doctor if you experience any of these side effects:

  • Any allergic reaction
  • Swelling of the lips or mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting or convulsions
  • Skin irritation
  • Headache
  • Strong menstrual cycles

Where to buy Anise Essential Oil?

Usually, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.

If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, I highly recommend Anise Star essential oil by STARWEST Botanicals

Star Anise Oil SWB


Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:

  • Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
  • Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.

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