Star Anise

View Slideshow Pictures

What other names is Star Anise known by?

Anis de Chine, Anís Estrellado, Anis Étoilé, Anis Étoilé Chinois, Aniseed Stars, Anisi Stellati Fructus, Ba Jiao Hui, Badiana, Badiane, Badiane de Chine, Bajiao, Chinese Anise, Chinese Star Anise, Eight-Horned Anise, Eight Horns, Illicium, Illicium verum.

What is Star Anise?

Star anise is an herb. The seed and oil are used to make medicine.

Be careful you know what you are taking. The star anise used as medicine is Chinese star anise. Don't confuse it with Japanese star anise, which is poisonous and should not be taken. Some Chinese star anise tea products have been contaminated with Japanese star anise. You cannot tell the difference between them just by looking. Unless safety can be assured by chemical analysis, star anise tea should not be used.

People try taking star anise for respiratory tract infections, lung swelling (inflammation), cough, bronchitis, the flu (influenza), swine flu, and bird flu.

They also use it for digestive tract problems including upset stomach, gas, loss of appetite, and colic in babies.

Some women use star anise for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, and easing childbirth.

Star anise is also used for increasing sexual drive (libido) and treating symptoms of "male menopause."

Some people inhale star anise to treat respiratory tract congestion.

In foods and beverages, star anise is considered a culinary spice; both the seed and oil are used as flavoring.

In manufacturing, the oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and toothpaste, and to mask undesirable odors in drug products.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of star anise for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Star Anise work?

Star anise seeds contain ingredients that might have activity against bacteria, yeast, and fungi. People try star anise for treating flu because it is a good source of shikimic acid, which is used in the manufacture of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), a flu treatment. However, there isn't any research showing that star anise has any activity against viruses such as the flu virus.

Are there safety concerns?

Star anise is LIKELY SAFE when used as a flavoring in foods. There is not enough information to know if it's safe for use as a medicine. Some ingredients can cause skin problems including swelling, scaling, and blisters when applied to the skin.

Be sure you are using Chinese star anise, not Japanese star anise, which is poisonous.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking star anise if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: It is UNSAFE to use star anise in infants. It's too hard to make sure the product you are using is pure Chinese star anise, not contaminated with poisonous Japanese star anise. Pure Chinese star anise is commonly used in infants and has a history of safe use. However, some infants given star anise tea have shown irritability, vomiting, and seizures. These symptoms are likely attributable to star anise that has been adulterated with toxic Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum). Unless it can be verified that star anise tea does not contain Japanese star anise, the tea should be avoided in infants. Not enough is known about the safety of star anise for older children.

Dosing considerations for Star Anise.

The appropriate dose of star anise depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for star anise. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors