This historically popular seed, anise, also known as aniseed and anise seed, is the true anise, Pimpinella anisum, which is not to be confused with the unrelated star anise. The plant is native to Asia, particularly China (news has come to light about the Japanese sources being potentially toxic, so please check the country of origin before you consume!), Egypt, Crete and Greece, however today it is cultivated worldwide in warm and suitable environments. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, making it a relative of parsley and the carrot, so it’s closer to home than you might think. Its medicinally marvellous seeds are harvested towards the end of summer. Just as the Romans, Greeks and many others before us, let’s refamiliarize ourselves with the Top 5 Health Benefits of Aniseed!
1.Helps with digestive disorders
Aniseed is beneficial for the relief of indigestion, nausea, flatulence, gastritis, diarrhoea, menstrual cramps, abdominal pains and the maintenance of a healthy metabolic rate. Evidence suggests that this seed is useful for easing arthritis and all pain in fact, in addition to managing seizures.
2. Aids respiratory ailments
Acting as an expectorant, (removes mucus) it is found in many cough medicines and is favourable for clearing bronchial and intrapulmonary airways. This seed is particularly valuable for those suffering from bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, sinusitis, cold, cough or the flu and those who currently or have previously smoked. It can also help maintain proper respiratory function for those living in polluted or city areas as many do in the developed and urban world landscapes of today.
3. Detoxifies the body
With potent anticonvulsant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects, these seeds also act as a diuretic (promoting urination) as well as being a diaphoretic (inducing sweating), meaning that the body can enhance its means of eliminating toxins. Aniseed can also be used as a breath freshener, ensuring the absence of unwanted halitosis, (bad breath).
4. Promotes sleep
Not only does aniseed clear the airways making breathing easier (which we all know helps significantly when we’re all bunged-up and trying to get in those precious forty winks!) but it also induces sleep and helps cure insomnia itself.
5. Improves general health
Aniseed is essentially an all round healer; being a potent antioxidant, aniseed protects the body from harmful free radicals. The numerous health benefits of this seed are unsurprising when we consider how nutritionally dense it is, containing vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C alongside iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and several essential fatty acids, such as oleic and linoleic acid. Copper is necessary for the function of many vital enzymes and the production of red blood cells, whilst potassium regulates blood pressure and heart rate.
You may no longer be able to pay taxes with this extraordinary seed, however its profound aromatic flavour can be found in liqueurs, including the French pastis, Spanish ojen and the Greek ouzo, and used in various sauces, soups, baked products such as bread and biscuits, tea infusions and alongside or as a replacement for liquorice. Alternatively the seeds can be chewed directly, you can diffuse its essential oil or you could even relive its history and incorporate a Roman touch by making a spiced aniseed cake! Love aniseed as much as we do? Tell us about it below or @KeepfitKingdom !