How to Use Anise: The History & Medicinal Properties of This Overlooked Herb

Medicinal herbs

Anise (Pimpinella anisum), also known as aniseed or graine d'anis vert, is commonly used for its licorice-tasting seeds, which add sweetness and flavor for cooking and as a tea. Don’t confuse it with star anise or anise hyssop, which are two different herbs. 

Anise herb flowering

Anise produces tiny white flowers and delicate leaves that give off a licorice fragrance that pollinators love and is a favorite among the naturopathic and herbal healing community for its medicinal uses.

The History of Anise Herb

Anise seed has been used since ancient times, with references to its use tracing back as far as 4000 years ago in Egypt! It was grown and harvested as both a culinary spice and an herbal remedy. There are references to its use to treat digestive complaints, toothaches, and as a diuretic. Greek writings refer to how anise was used to help breathing problems, as an analgesic, as a diuretic, and more. It was even used in desserts in Roman times to provide a sweet treat that also prevented indigestion after a rich meal.

Anise herbal tea

Eight Medicinal Benefits of Anise

Today, anise is an herbal remedy for several ailments. Here are a few uses for this sweet herb. 

  1. Digestive issues - An infusion of dry anise seeds in water may provide some relief of indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and flatulence. 
  2. Bad breath - Chew anise seeds or pods after meals to freshen your breath. 
  3. Respiratory problems - Anise tea may soothe symptoms of the common cold, bronchitis, and asthma. 
  4. Sore throat and mouth ulcers - Gargle or swish with an herbal tea made from aniseed, mint, and sage for its soothing antiseptic properties. 
  5. Menstrual problems - Painful or irregular periods might be soothed with anise tea made from steeping seeds or fruits in hot water. Anise seed extract may also help with symptoms of PMS and the reduction of hot flashes during menopause. 
  6. Balancing blood sugars - Anise may reduce high blood sugars. People with diabetes should monitor their levels carefully when using anise. 
  7. Reducing inflammation - Packed with antioxidants, anise can have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce oxidative stress. 
  8. Lice removal - A spray containing anise oil, coconut oil, and ylang-ylang oil has been researched and shows promise as a non-toxic option for removing these nasty creatures.

Anise Growing Tips

Anise is a wonderful companion plant as it attracts important pollinators with its fragrant blooms.

Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil so it can get a full day of sunlight.

Sow anise seed directly in an outdoor garden when the soil temperature is 65-70°.


Plant at a depth of 1/4". 

Seeds will germinate around 14 days.

Is anise safe?

Consult your healthcare provider for more personalized information, as we are not qualified to provide medical advice. However, as a general rule, anise is safe for most people. Anise is considered safe in food amounts for children, breastfeeding, and pregnancy. If you are allergic to plants similar to anise, take care. You may also be allergic to anise. These plants include asparagus, caraway, celery, cilantro (also known as coriander), cumin, dill, and fennel. Since anise may lower blood sugars, people with diabetes should monitor their levels carefully if using anise. Also, anyone with a scheduled surgery should stop using anise two weeks in advance.

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