Star Anise


Star Anise, Illicium verum

By Valerie Lull, MH

January is National Hot Tea Month so for the month of January my blogs will focus on hot teas. Star Anise is a spice that has been traditionally used in cooking but also appears to have health benefits. It comes from a plant that is an evergreen.  Don’t mix it up with true anise seed which is a completely different plant from the near east. The anise that I am writing about comes from southern China. There is another star anise that comes from Japan that is poisonous. Be sure you know what kind of anise you are using. Star anise gets its name from the star shape of the fruit. Star anise has a flavor that is similar to licorice.

Star anise is quite versatile. The oil is used for fragrance in soaps, perfumes, cosmetics and toothpaste.  The seed is quite popular as a culinary spice. According to folklore it is good for respiratory infections, cough, bronchitis and flu. Star anise is rich in shikimic acid. This is a precursor to oseltamivir which is used in making the preparation called Tamiflu.

Additional uses for star anise include benefits to the skin, hair and weight loss. Star anise contains antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. Antioxidants slow down the aging process. Star anise is an anti-fungal that helps fight candida albicans. This spice is also antibacterial.

A tea can be made from the leaves or seeds of the star anise plant.

  • Heat water to boiling, then put 1-2 pods of Chinese Star Anise in the teapot for every cup of water.
  • Steep for 10-15 minutes
  • Strain and sweeten with sweetener of choice (honey is good if you have a cough)
  • It is recommended to take 3 cups a day after meals

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Simple Ways to Stay Healthy

I am a master herbalist and I write a blog about general health and wellness. I discuss herbs, natural remedies and nutrition.

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