Star anise is an unusual looking fruit that comes from Asia. It is produced from the flowering tree, the Illicium verum variety. It’s used in Chinese food, but it’s also used in traditional Chinese medicine. People love the unique flavor of star anise, which is generally dried and used in teas and dishes.
This isn’t the only reason people consume this interesting fruit. It’s also packed with tons of incredible health benefits. If you’re curious about this extremely flavorful dried fruit, this post will tell you everything you need to know about star anise — what makes it so incredible and what it’s good for.
What is Star Anise?
Star anise is a star-shaped fruit that has 6-8 points. Each point contains tiny seeds that provide this fruit with its distinct flavor. Star anise is generally found in China and Vietnam, but it’s also exported from India.
Star anise is usually not eaten fresh. Instead it is harvested while still green and then dried in the sun for several days until it turns reddish brown. It takes about four days for star anise to be fully dried and ready to use as a spice.
It has a distinct flavor and aroma, which many describe as similar to licorice. It’s used in herbal teas, meats, and Chinese dishes. It's one of the main spices used in Chinese five-spice, and is widely used in the cooking industry.
Star Anise vs Anise
Star anise and anise seed are often confused because they have similar names. However, star anise and anise seed, while similar, come from two totally different plants. Star anise is shaped like a star and comes from the flowering tree common to Asia.
Anise seed is not star-shaped. It's a small, brown, oval seed from a flowering plant that grows in Europe and the Middle East. Anise seeds are much smaller than star anise and have a milder flavor. Anise seed has a similar flavor and can be substituted in recipes for star anise, but it doesn’t contain the same medicinal properties.
What is Star Anise Good for?
Many people know how great this dried fruit is for cooking, but not everyone knows about its health benefits. Star anise is a medicinal dried fruit that is useful for cooking and also good for you. What makes star anise so great? Let’s explore all the uses of star anise.
#1 Flu Prevention
Star anise is one of nature's best weapons against the flu. While there are other herbs that may soothe your symptoms, star anise contains a powerful antiviral component, shikimic acid. In fact, this acid is the active ingredient found in Tamiflu.
Star anise (Illicium verum) and the Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) are both excellent sources of shikimic acid, this all-natural flu-fighter. Star anise is the best source of shikimic acid, which is why it is the prime source of the shikimic acid used in Tamiflu.
Numerous studies back up its use as an antiviral agent. The flu is a nasty virus that can hit hard and fast, leaving you feeling miserable. If you’re struggling with body aches, fever, coughing, or other flu symptoms, why not brew up a cup of star anise tea. It will not only taste great but may help you fight off the flu faster.
#2 Combat Bacterial infections
Star anise contains several compounds that can fight bacteria. It has been used as a powerful preventative measure against bacteria related illnesses, including ear infections and staphinfections. It has also been shown to be able to stop the growth of harmful bacteria in the body, giving it both preventative and healing properties.
Research into its use as an antibacterial agent has shown amazing results. One study found that star anise has the potential to be used for treating persistent and antibiotic-resistant staph infections. In another study, researchers discovered that it had substantial antibacterial activity against 67 clinical drug-resistant strains of bacteria. They believe that several compounds found in star anise, including shikimic acid, linalool, and anethole, may have the potential to become part of a novel treatment for persistent and antibiotic-resistant staph infections.
#3 Fights Yeast and Fungal Infections
Star anise is good for fighting off viruses and bacteria, but it also contains a compound that may help you to fight off fungal infections as well. Anethole, a compound found in this dried fruit, has been shown to contain powerful antimicrobial properties that may be useful in tackling yeast and fungal infections.
Fungal and yeast infections are often difficult to diagnose and treat. Star anise might be the solution you've been looking for. You can make a cup of this sweet flavored tea at home to alleviate and prevent yeast infections from occurring.
#4 May Improve Blood Sugar When Consumed with Meals
Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of Americans. It is expensive to treat and difficult to manage. Many diabetics have problems regulating their blood sugar levels, especially after eating. Star anise may be helpful in preventing blood sugar spikes and keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
Although the impact of star anise on blood glucose levels has not yet been fully studied, researchers hypothesize that spices used to enhance food flavor may also be useful in regulating blood sugar. In a study of diabetic rats, they found that star anise (and other spices) helped maintain blood glucose levels after meals by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and increasing insulin production.
#5 Helps with Hot flashes
Menopause causes a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including anxiety, mood swings, and hot flashes. The reason for these symptoms is that as a woman ages, her egg quality diminishes and her estrogen levels drop. This can lead to dryness of the skin, lower libido, and terrible hot flashes.
There are some herbs on the market that may help with menstrual cycles and hot flashes like chaste tree or vitex and black cohosh. Star anise has also been found to be helpful. This is because star anise contains anethole, which is a phytoestrogen, or plant-based compound that mimics estrogen. This may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of menopause.
One study found that women who were given anise seed, which is also high in this phytoestrogen, saw a signficant reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.
#6 Reduces Migraines
Migraines cause throbbing pain that can become debilitating. It’s estimated that about 10% of women suffer from migraines. Star anise has natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate migraine pain. But, it’s also rich in iron and magnesium. These minerals have also been shown to help with migraines, especially if they are menstrual related migraines.
A clinical trial found that an essential oil made from an essential oil containing anise (which contains similar compounds as star anise) was effective in reducing the frequency and length of migraine attacks. If you get frequent migraines, star anise may be something to consider adding to your arsenal of treatments.
#7 Increases Breast Milk Supply (Galactagogue)
Star anise may also be beneficial for women who are breastfeeding. Anethole, an active compound in star anise, is thought to help with breast milk production. It is believed that phytoestrogens like anethole help with lactation by mimicking the hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogens may also help prevent mastitis, a painful condition that can occur during breastfeeding.
What else is star anise good for?
Star anise is one of the most useful dried fruits on earth. Its use in Tamiflu and other remedies has been widely documented. Many others have incorporated it into their diets as a way to stay healthy. It can be used in cooking or an essential oil. It is packed with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can be used for so many purposes that there is no limit to what you can do with it. It tastes great as a seasoning or spice, but also works wonders as an herbal spice tea.
Experience all the Health Benefits of Star Anise for Yourself
Star anise is a great spice and a powerful supplement. Elderflower Botanicals produces the highest quality natural supplements to boost your immunity and keep you healthy. Star anise extract is one of our most popular supplements. Check out our star anise extract or any of our other products. You will love all the ways you can use this extract to boost your immunity and live healthier.