Common Name: Anise Star
Scientific Name: Illicium Verum
Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics
Anise star essential oil has a strong, sweet, and powerful scent, which smells just like black licorice. Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient which gives the unrelated anise its flavour.
Origin and History
Illicium verum, commonly called Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a medium-sized native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening.
Star anise has been used in a tea as a traditional remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion. As a warm and moving herb, star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, according to Traditional Chinese medicine.
In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu. Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring.
Method of Extraction
Anise star essential oil originates from China and is extracted from the star shaped fruits of the of Illicium verum. Anise star essential oil blends well with fennel, petitgrain, and rosewood, amyris, bay cardamon, caraway, cedarwood, coriander, and mandarin. Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source.
Precautions During Use (Contraindications)
Anise star essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy and used only in moderation as it can slow down circulation when used in large quantities. MSDS for anise star essential oil is available for download here.
Anise star (or star anise as it is otherwise known) has stimulating and energising properties having a particularly refreshing and stimulating action on the digestive and respiratory system when used in massage. It also has emotionally uplifting properties.