1.5.1 Origin of the Name
The generic name for I. verum Hook. comes from the Latin illicio or illicere (to attract), referring to the fragrance (Coombes, 1994; Simonetti, 1991).
The Japanese plant the trees of star anise in their temples and on tombs and burn the pounded bark as incense, to produce a perfumed smoke. I. verum Hook. is an extremely ancient species, known in China as far back as 100 B.C. The use of star anise has remained very much within its native region, though the Chinese have taken it to the countries in which they settled. Old recipes from the seventeenth century reveal that by that time, star anise was used in the West for fruit syrups and jams (Norman, 1991).
The odor of I. verum Hook. is strongly aromatic, and the taste is similar to aniseed, but somewhat more bitter (Simonetti, 1991). Because of the traditional use of anise oils with licorice in licorice sweets, the flavor of anise is often confused with that of licorice and is described as licorice-like (Leung and Foster, 1996).
The fruits of I. verum Hook. are used in liqueurs, and especially anisette, an ancient liqueur that is still very popular (Bianchini and Corbetta, 1975). The fruits are used in the liqueur industry as a tincture or distillate (Simonetti, 1991), and they are largely employed, especially on the continent of Europe, in flavoring for liqueurs (Wood and Bache, 1883).
The drug can be used as it is, or it can be ground in the kitchen (Simonetti, 1991). Uses of star anise are similar to those of aniseed, and it is an important spice in Chinese cookery (Potter, 1994), being used for seasoning dishes, especially sweets (Grieve, 1998). The Chinese also mix the fruit with coffee and tea to improve their flavor. The Muslims of India season some of their dishes with the capsules, and these capsules are also largely imported into Germany, France, and Italy for the flavoring of spirits (Sturtevant, 1972).
Both anise and star anise are widely used as domestic spices; the former is mainly used by Westerners, whereas the latter is used primarily by Asians, especially in Chinese foods (Leung and Foster, 1996).
Star anise oil is employed in pharmacy practice and in the food industry in the same way as (very expensive) genuine anise oil (which has not been available in sufficient quantities for many years): as a component of alcoholic drinks, liqueurs, toothpastes, sweets, pharmaceutical preparations, and occasionally as a perfume in soap. Star anise is a component of herbal mixtures that are used for making mulled wine (Wichtl, 1994).
The medicinal uses of star anise are very similar to those already mentioned for anise. The oil has a sedative effect on the nervous spasms caused, for example, by coughs and asthma (Bianchini, 1975).
Star anise is also used for catarrh of the respiratory tract and for dyspeptic complaints, as well as being used as a bronchosecretolytic and as a gastrointestinal spasmolytic (German Commission E Monograph, 1985). Preparations containing 5 to 10% essential oil are used as a respiratory inhalant in Germany.
It is often chewed in small quantities after each meal to promote digestion and to sweeten the breath (Grieve, 1998), and it has carminative properties (Simonetti, 1991) and helps to relieve flatulence (Lust, 1986). The fruit is used in Asia as a remedy for colic and rheumatism (Grieve, 1998).
Star anise oil is used as stimulant, mild spasmolytic, weak antibacterial, and expectorant in cough mixtures and lozenges, among other preparations. Internally it is used for dyspeptic complaints, and externally it is used as an inhalant for treatment of congestion of the respiratory tract (Leung and Foster, 1996). It is used as a component of prepared antitussives and in gastrointestinal remedies (Wichtl, 1994).
• Rarely, 0.5 to 1.0 g of the drug is coarsely powdered immediately before use, covered with boiling water, and allowed to draw in a closed vessel for 10 minutes and strained (1 teaspoon = approximately 3.2 g) (Wichtl, 1994).
• To make an infusion, steep 1 teaspoon crushed seeds in 1 cup water and take 1 to 2 cups per day (Lust, 1986).
• For the tincture, a dose is from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (Lust, 1986).
• Emuls. Anis. et Menth. pip. BPC (1949): Dose 5 to 30 mL.
• Sp. Anis. BPC (1949): Dose 5 to 20 mL (Potter, 1985).
• As for aniseed, anise oil BP: Dose 0.05 to 0.2 mL.
• Conc. anise water BPC: Dose 0.3 to 1.0 mL (Potter, 1994).
• The mode of administration for internal use or for inhalation is that the drug is crushed immediately before use, as well as being used via other galenical preparations. Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 3.0 g drug or 0.3 g essential oil (German Commission E Monograph, 1988).
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If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.