Safety

Toxicity, irritation, and sensitization all have been tested, and the oil is safe to use (Tisserand, 1988). There are no known contraindications, no known side effects and no known interactions with other remedies (German Commission E Monograph, 1988).

1.5.6 Legal Category (Licensed Products)

The legal category for anise oil is General Sales List, Schedule 1, Table A. Anise oil and star anise oil are used interchangeably in the United States, both being officially recognized as anise oil in the United States Pharmacopoeia and Food Chemicals Codex (1972).

The regulatory status for anise and star anise oil is generally recognized as safe (#182.10 and #182.20). Anise seed and star anise seed are subjects of German official monographs; 3.0 g of seed or 0.3 g essential oil (mean daily dose) is allowed as a bronchial expectorant for upper respiratory tract congestion and as a gastrointestinal spasmolytic.

1.5.7 Adulteration

Commercial star anise seeds may be adulterated with the poisonous, similar but slightly smaller and darker seed of another plant. These seeds have a sharp and bitter odor, resembling cardamom rather than anise (Lust, 1986). Cases of poisoning have occurred through the use of the fruit of Illicium anisatum (Syn. Illicium religiosum), Japanese anise, bastard anise, or shikimi, which closely resembles star anise. This false star anise is devoid of the anise odor but has an odor resembling laurel, clove, and nutmeg. The poisonous principle has been identified as sikimine by Ekyman (Wood and Bache, 1883), the sesquiterpene anisatin (Leung and Foster, 1996), or a lactone glycoside known as skimmin (Tyler et al., 1988). However, in practice, this adulteration is very rarely encountered (Leung and Foster, 1996).

1.5.8 Plants Confused with Star Anise

Japanese star anise should not be confused with true star anise (Chinese star anise). Japanese star anise is obtained from a related species, I. lanceolatum A.C. Smith, formerly believed to be I. anisatum L., or I. religiosum Sieb. et Zuce., which grows in southern China, Taiwan, and Japan. It looks like a smaller, deformed version of Chinese star anise and is highly poisonous. A 10 to 15% aqueous extract is used in China as agricultural insecticide (Leung and Foster, 1996). The fruits produced by I. anisatum do not smell of aniseed but of cardamom.

1.5.9 Other Species of Anise

I. floridanum, found in Florida and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, has its bark, leaves, and probably also seed vessels endowed with a spicy odor and taste, similar to those of anise.

I. parviflorum, a shrub found in Michaux and in the hilly regions of Georgia and Carolina, has a flavor closely resembling that of sassafras root.

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