Fooding for Life


Updated on November 15, 2020

Scientific: Pimpinella anisum [WikiPedia]

Appearance: The herbaceous Anise plant is a member of the Carrot family that can grow to heights of up to three feet. Thin, spindle-shaped roots produce grooved stems and leaves that form feathery lobes.

Parts Used: The seed (fruit) and oil, and less frequently the root and leaf, are used to make medicine. Anise seed is also used as a spice, either ground or whole.

Common Uses: The seeds are composed of 18 percent proteins, eight to 23 percent fatty oils, two to seven percent essential oils, five percent starch, 22 to 28 percent N-free extracts and 12 to 25 percent crude fibre. The remaining nine to 13 percent of the seed’s weight is moisture. The seeds also contain other important compounds like acetophenone, p-anisaldehyde, anise alcohol, estragol, limonene and pinene. The seeds are an excellent source of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, potassium and copper. These minerals are essential to cardiac, bone and blood health and are needed by the body to turn food into energy. The B-complex vitamins found in aniseed are essential to overall health. Loaded with riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin and thiamin, the seeds can contribute to healthy levels of neuro-chemicals in the brain.

Anise seed is like catnip for a dog. Dogs are drawn to it just like cats are with catnip. Dogs are much more scent-oriented than humans, whereas, humans are more visual. This is part of why dogs love smelling things and why anise seed is something they enjoy immensely. An example of them being scent-oriented is when they roll in stinky things or dirt. This odd behavior just stimulates their sense of smell. It might seem gross to us, but that’s what dogs love to do. Anise seed should be given in moderation like anything else. You can find it in treats, or various forms at your local pet store. Anise seed actually gets your dog excited and moving. So, it can be used in training to get your pooch to do things. Anise seed is low in calories but contains a good amount of several important minerals, including iron, manganese and calcium. Human and animal studies reveal that anise seed may help reduce symptoms of depression and may be as effective as some types of antidepressants. Though research is extremely limited, anise seed reduced stomach acid secretion in huumans and protected against stomach ulcer formation in one animal study. Test-tube studies show that anise seed and its components may decrease the growth of certain strains of fungi and bacteria. Animal and test-tube studies have found that anise seed is high in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation to help prevent chronic disease.

Anise vs. Star Anise vs. Fennel

Despite its similar name, anise is not related to star anise (Illicium verum), which is another spice from a different family of plants. Either can be used to make anise extract as both contain anethole, which produces the characteristic anise flavor. Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is the source of the extract and seeds used in European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. The star anise is native to China. As star anise is cheaper to produce, today much of the essential oil of anise is from star anise rather than anise. Anise is also not the same thing as fennel, although the two do have a similar flavor, and the plants are somewhat similar looking. Anise and fennel are from the same family of plants (along with caraway, parsley, cilantro, and others), but they are different species. In general, fennel is served as a vegetable, while anise is used as a spice in seed form, either whole or ground.

Alternatives and Adjuncts:

Used In:

Topic Specific References:

  • Antifungal activity of fluid extract and essential oil from anise fruits (Pimpinella anisum L., Apiaceae) [PubMED]
  • Anethole inhibits growth of recently emerged multidrug resistant toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor variant strains in vitro [PubMED]
  • Trans-anethole, a terpenoid ameliorates hyperglycemia by regulating key enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats [PubMED]

PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.

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