Star Anise — Scientifically proven health and wellness benefits. Spices come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s great that star anise is popular. It’s dark color, star shape appearance and liquorice-like taste differentiate it from other seasonings. Along with its unique flavor, star anise has long been used as a remedy for the common flu, bacterial infections and to repel mosquitoes. In this article, we’ll discuss the history of this exotic spice and explore health benefits.
History of Star Anise
The star-shaped fruit dates back to 3000 years ago, where it thrived in the condition of southern China and Southeast Asia. It’s been widely used in Chinese cooking, and also makes up the common “five-spice” powder blends. There are many different medicinal uses that make aniseed a popular spice among not only Chinese but people around the world.
Thomas Cavendish was the first European explorer to discover the five-spice spice 3 centuries ago, but he did not realize they were the same fruit until later on. The country of India has proven itself to be still one of the main producers of this spice at this time.
What is Star Anise?
The star anise tree is scientifically known as Illicium verum. It has the shape of a star with five to ten points, and it usually bears fruit in the autumn. Star anise is often confused with aniseed, which share many similar attributes, but they possess different scents and use different essential oils.
In Asian cuisine, star anise is often used as a few people are acquainted its sweet scent while fennel is used in Western countries. The good news is that despite its intense scent, star anise essential oils are widely known for their healing properties among Aromatherapists, perfumers, dentists and cosmetologists.
Star Anise Benefits
Star anise brings out the true flavors found in many Asian and South-Asian cuisines with it’s strong, sweet, unique scent. The active compounds that carry this unique flavor also possess medicinal attributes. From the ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic remedies to modern science, star anise research and applications continue to grow, identifying even more benefits. Let’s take a closer look into the powers of this exotically common spice.
As star anise is mostly prevalent in the East with research being driven from Asia, majority of evidence is based on Eastern studies. Be aware that local/western uses call for “star anise” where in the East it is it’s own seed and spice term. . Although both star anise and Anise are two different spices, they do share some of their phytonutrients such as Anethole & Linalool.
The body can turn food and oxygen into a type of energy that most cells can use, while storing other types of energy into what are called triglycerides and glycogen.The body produces an assortment of compounds, some of which have unstable oxygen particles called reactive oxygen species, or “free radicals.” These high-energy molecules react with each other when they come into contact with one another.
When they steal electrons from compounds within cells, they cause damage and destabilize structural integrity. Cells and tissues trigger greater immune response through inflammation to stop and repair free radical damage.
This imbalance of free radicals is often referred to as oxidative stress. Many antioxidants from plants help scavenge the ROS in cells. Star anise contains 13 to 25 highly active compounds, including strong antioxidants such as caryophyllene, limonene and estragole that seek out these free radicals and protect cells from damage.
Good antioxidants found in star anise include anethole, beta-caryophyllene and linalool– all powerful antioxidants found in relatively low concentrations in oranges– which protects against parasites (200 times stronger than pharmaceutical based antibiotics), acts as a muscle relaxant (a common treatment for pain) and affects female health such as estrogen by mimicking it
Insects don’t like anethole, a major compound in star anise essential oil. Studies show that anethole is 80% effective as a fumigant against German cockroaches. Anethole and other essential oil ingredients (like alpha-terpinene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, limonene and estragole) create a long lasting control of different types of cockroaches, mites and other insects. . Essential oils like these have also been used as natural pesticides protecting grains and other crops.
Fights Viruses and Flu
While many fruits and vegetables are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties, star anise has the highest concentration of shikimic acid to date. Essentially this is a compound found in star anise that is known scientifically as shikimic acid. It’s main function has been with an antiviral vaccine called Oseltamivir (also known as Tamilflu, a drug that was used to treat the bird flu virus).
Star anise contains about 35 times more shikimic acid than any other plant in the world. Studies show that combining shikimic acid with quercetin can have dramatically increased immune cells over regular antiviral treatment. So next time you’re feeling sick or your symptoms bother you too much, consider brewing a cup of star anise or enjoy Dupi’s Chai Elevate Blend – it’s simply steeped and that’s it!
Digestive Aid and Protection
Star anise is one of the many spices containing significant amount of fiber. Fiber stimulates digestion and can reduce constipation. Fiber binds to bile salts decreasing the absorption of cholesterol in the colon, which lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Star anise has phytonutrients that stimulate digestion.
Our research is still very young on star anise, but based on what we know so far, it’s one of the most health-promoting spices you can add to your diet.
Sun exposure damages the skin and is one of the environmental factors in oxidative stress. Star anise has a myriad of benefits, including it’s ability to reduce free radical damage in cells. The ingredient also helps with collagen production, which leads to healthy looking skin. Anethole protects your skin from being damaged by ROS and reduces oxidative stress by enhancing GSH and Nrf2 levels. Vitamin C is also important for collagen production, helping minimize damage of scars or stretch marks.
Cautions and Drawbacks
It’s important to consider potential risks when using this spice, but with use and its complement of health benefits, most international experts agree that it is safe to consume as medicine. As star anise popularity steadily grows in the West, there are still general cautions regarding using this spice for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Active ingredients within star anise that produce health benefits in some, may have adverse affects in others.
For example, the main component anethole mimics estrogen, which may produce some hormonal imbalances within the body. Anethole competes with dopamine for its receptors and can increase prolactin and breast milk production. This may not be a appealing to women who already have high prolactin levels. Finally, star anise is a fragrant spice, and some people may be allergic or develop allergies to ingredients responsible for the licorice type aroma and/or taste.
Star anise is a fragrant and flavorful fruit from the evergreen tree Illicium verm native to China. It has a 3000-year old history as a valuable culinary spice, and it’s enjoyed all over Asia and in Western countries, too. The trade mark star-shaped fruits carry a licorice-like taste, which is what makes up main ingredients of the spice powders, masalas and curry mixes used in many Asian dishes.
The unique flavor comes from compounds that give this spice its flavor: shikimic acid! The main ingredient shikimic acid is a start-up ingredient for antiviral medication Tamilflu, as well as other medications like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
The star anise is vitamin rich with essential oils that have powerful polyphenols like anethole, linalool, estragole, pipene and limonene that boost immune systems, balance hormones/neurotransmitters, improve organs and bones health; fight bacteria/viruses and fungi; decrease oxidative stress; power feeling of well-being and variety of health conditions/diseases. You can get this sweet taste experience along with the spicy hotness of star anise in our own blend Dup