Anise Benefits, What is Anise

Anise benefits, evidence-based information on herbs and botanicals, What is Anise , Anise health benefits, home remedies and natural cures.

Anise, Pimpinella anisum, is a slow-growing annual herb of the parsley family (Apiaceae, formerly Umbellif-erae). It is related to other plants prized for their aromatic fruits, commonly called seeds, such as dill, cumin, caraway, and fennel. It is cultivated chiefly for its licorice-flavored fruits, called aniseed. Although it has a licorice flavor, anise is not related to the European plant whose roots are the source of true licorice. It has been used as a medicinal and fragrant plant since ancient times.

The plant reaches from 1-3 ft (0.3-1 m) in height when cultivated, and has finely divided feather-like bright green leaflets. The name Pimpinella (from the Latin dipinella) refers to the pinnately divided form of the leaves. The plant bears white to yellowish-white flowers in compound umbels (umbrella-like clusters). When ripe, the fruits are 0.125 in (3 mm) long and oval-shaped with grayish-green coloring.

While the entire plant is fragrant and tastes strongly of anise, it is the aniseed fruit that has been highly valued since antiquity. Seed maturation usually occurs one month after pollination, when the oil content in the dried fruit is about 2.5%. Steam distillation of the crushed aniseed yields from 2.5 to 3.5% of a fragrant, syrupy, essential, or volatile, oil, of which anethole, present at about 90%, is the principal aromatic constituent. Other chemical constituents of the fruit are creosol, alpha-pinene, dianethole, and photoanethole.

In addition to its medicinal properties, anise is widely used for flavoring curries, breads, soups, cakes, candies, desserts, nonalcoholic beverages, and liqueurs such as anisette. The essential oil is valuable in perfumes and soaps and has been used in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams.

Anise is endemic to the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, including Egypt, Greece, Crete, and Turkey. It was cultivated and used by ancient Egyptians, and used in ancient Greece and Rome, when it was cultivated in Tuscany. Its use and cultivation spread to central Europe in the Middle Ages, and today it is cultivated on a commercial scale in warm areas such as southern Europe, Asia, India, North Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America.

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