Originally from Asia Minor and Egypt, anise now grows throughout the Mediterranean. Turner’s 1551 Herbal recommends it “maketh the breth sweter.” The oil’s delightful taste still flavors pharmaceuticals, confections, toothpaste, “licorice” candy in the United States, and numerous alcoholic beverages around the world such as French anisette, Turkish raki, Latin American aguardiente, Latvian kummel, Spanish ojen and Greek ouzo.
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Extraction: Distilled from the seed, anise has a sweet, licoricelike scent. The oil solidifies at room temperatures.
Medicinal Action: Anise is calming, and it reduces muscle spasms, indigestion and coughing. It is also mildly hormonal, increasing breast milk.
Emotional Attribute: Smelling anise enhances relaxation, sleep patterns, emotional balance and even a sense of humor. It relieves stress from overwork. Said to be aphrodisiac, anise overcomes heartache.
Considerations: The oil can be narcotic and can slow circulation, so be careful. Although it may not be detrimental, it should be avoided by those with problems related to high estrogen. The anethole found in anise causes skin dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
Star Anise (Illicium verum) –This Oriental tree oil has similar chemistry and scent, so it sometimes replaces anise. It is distilled mostly from seed and occasionally from the star-shaped fruit. The related I. religiosum was once combined with rue and pyrethrum as a fumigant to keep bugs out of books.