Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Botanical name: Pimpinella anisum
Planetary association: Moon (Cancer) - maternal love; Mercury - calms nerves; Sun (Sellar)
Colour vibration: Orange & Gold
Distillation: Steam-distilled from the fruit
Aroma: Characteristic fragrant anisic aroma
Taste: Sweet and pungent
Main Chemical constituents: 75-9-% trans-anethole, estragole, anisic acid, methyl chavicol
Properties: anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, stomachic, analgesic, antiseptic, bactericidal, calmative, mild diuretic, expectorant
Pimpinella anisum is a delicate herb that grows to a height of 10-15 cm. It bears pink or creamy-white flowers and bright green feathery leavs from which the name Pimpinella is derived (from dipinella, meaning ‘double pinnate’)
TRADITIONS AND USES
The medicinal and culinary use of aniseed stretches back 4000 years. According to Egyptologist Dr Lise Manniche, “if the hieroglyphic name inst equals the almost synonymous aniseed, we can trace it in the pharaonic medical texts. It is employed internally for various stomack ailments and is chewed for toothache.”
The essential oil is used to flavour a number of alcoholic spirits and liqueurs including the French pastis (Pernod), the Greek ouzo and the Turkish raki. It is also used to flavour sweets, cough lozenges and toothpaste, and is sometimes utilised in perfumery to mask undesirable odours.
Aniseed oil is warm, sweet and spicy-pungent. It is one of the spiciest of the predominantly sweet-pungent essential oils distilled from seeds
The seed (in botanical terms, the fruit) of anise has a long history of use as a digestive, antispasmodic, expectorant and oestrogenic agent. Modern herbal usage has focused on its application for gastric complaints and catarrhal conditions of the respiratory tract.
Essential oil of pimpinella anisum, like tat of Foeniculum vulgare, cotains at least 70 per cent of the phenylpropanoid phenolic eher, trans-anethole. Trans-anethole has been considered by a number of authors to contribute to aniseed oil’s antispasmodic action, especially in cases of gastrointestinal and respiratory dysfunction.
Aniseed essential oil is perhaps the most sweet and spicy-pungent of the Umbelliferae seed oils, reflecting its ability to both circulate the Qi and Blood and calm the nervous system. It is this combination of ‘moving’ (spicy-pungent) and relaxing (sweet) fragrance energies that makes it such and effective gastrointestinal antispasmodic - for, when Qi is ‘stuck’ and results in spasm and distention, a remedy that can both relax and gently stimulate is required.
Aniseed essential oil has been formally tested for safety and found to be nontoxic, very mildly irritant and non-phototoxic. However, there is a possible sensitisation risk due to trans-anethole. In addition, the weak oestrogen-like activity of the oil has prompted some authors to preclude its use in cases of oestrogen-dependent cancers and endometriosis, as well as during pregnancy.
Example blend for nervous dyspepsia
40% sweet orange
30% Roman Chamomile
Example blend for nauseous dyspepsia
Put 6 drops in a 10 ml bottle of carrier oil and massage gently over the stomach
Or put a few drops in a hot compress and apply over the stomach. Renew the compress as often as needed.
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