Star Anise Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin
Start anise (Illicium verum) is a tree commonly known as Chinese star anise. The infamous spice comes from the fruit of an evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. They can grow up to 20-30 feet. Its fruit’s scent resembles the smell of licorice. Star anise produces soft yellow flowers shaped like a cup. Its brown woody fruit is shaped like a star, hence, the name. Star anise fruit can be eaten fresh or dried. It should not be confused with anise as these two spices are not related.
There are two types of star anise known worldwide: the Chinese and the Japanese star anise the Chinese star anise is the one commonly used because of its medicinal properties, for the Japanese star anise is known as a toxic variety that is mainly used as agricultural pesticide
The fruit of star anise is dried before undergoing steam distillation to extract the oil. Star anise essential oil has a clear, pale-yellow color and has a fresh, spicy, and sweet aroma. Some of the key components of the star anise essential oil are trans-anethole, limonene, gallic acid, quercetin, anethol, shikimic acid, linalool, and anisaldehyde. These compounds give star anise essential oil its medicinal properties.
Traditional Uses of Star Anise Essential Oil
Star anise has been used for a long time. Traditionally it has been used to promote sleep and relieve the body of joint and muscle pains.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it was made into tea to treat a number of respiratory and digestive conditions. It was also used to boost immune system. Chewing star anise seeds was practiced to improve digestion.
For the Greeks and Romans, star anise essential oil was mostly used to boost energy, as the oil is known to act as a stimulant.
Europeans have used star anise in making different liquors such as Pastis, Galliano, Sambuca, and absinthe. Its sweet flavor is also used in making soft drinks and pastries. They were referred to as Siberia cardamom when they were brought to London in the 17th century.
Benefits of Using Star Anise Essential Oil
Works against free radicals
According to research, star anise essential oil has the ability to combat free radicals that cause damage to the cells. The component linalool can stimulate the production of vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant. Another antioxidant present in the oil is quercetin, which can protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Antioxidant works against agents that damage skin cells. This results in a healthier skin that is less prone to wrinkles and fine lines.
Star anise essential oil can boost the immune system with the help of the shikimic acid component. Its anti-viral property helps fight off infections and viruses effectively. It is one of the major ingredients of Tamiflu, a popular medicine that is used to treat influenza.
Aside from giving the start anise its distinct flavor and aroma, anethole is a component known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It works against fungi that can cause affect the skin, mouth, and throat such as the Candida albicans.
Its antibacterial property helps inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes urinary tract infections. Aside from this, it is also known to reduce the growth of E. coli.
Promotes a healthy digestive system
Star anise essential oil can cure indigestion, flatulence, and constipation. These digestive issues are commonly associated with the excess gas in the body. The oil eliminates this excess gas and gives a sense of relief.
Acts as a sedative
Star anise oil gives a sedative effect which helps relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. It can also be used to calm people suffering from hyper reaction, convulsions, hysteria, and epileptic attacks. The oil’s nerolidol content is responsible for the sedative effect it gives off while alpha-pinene offers relief from stress.
Relief from respiratory ailments
Star anise essential oil gives off a warming effect on the respiratory system which helps loosen phlegm and excessive mucus in the respiratory pathway. Without these obstructions, breathing becomes easier. It also helps ease symptoms of respiratory problems such as cough, asthma, bronchitis, congestion, and breathing problems.
Star anise oil is known for its anti-spasmodic property which helps treat spasms that cause coughs, cramps, convulsions, and diarrhea. The oil helps calm the excessive contractions, which can relieve the mentioned condition.
Star anise essential oil has also been shown to relieve muscle and joint pain by stimulating blood circulation. Good blood circulation helps relieve rheumatic and arthritic pains. Adding a few drops of star anise oil to a carrier oil and massaged to affected areas helps penetrate the skin and reach the inflammation underneath.
For Women’s Health
Star anise oil promotes lactation in mothers. It also helps alleviate symptoms of menstruation such as abdominal cramps, pain, headaches, and mood swings.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Japanese star anise contains toxins that can cause hallucinations and seizures so it is not advised to ingest this oil. Chinese and Japanese star anise may have a few similarities that is why it is also best to check the source of the oil before purchasing it.
Star anise oil should not be used in children, especially infants, as it can cause fatal reactions.
For pregnant women and those who are suffering from liver damage, cancer, and epilepsy should seek the advice of a physician or a professional aromatherapy practitioner before using this oil.
Never use this oil undiluted and never take it internally without consulting a doctor.