Pimpinella anisum

Plant family: Apiaceae aka Umbelliferae (Carrot family)

Part used: seed (aka fruit)

Taste: sweet, aromatic

Historical commentary: The herb originated in Egypt. Aside from medicinal applications, its pleasant flavor has been used in making confections and flavoring alcoholic beverages.


Digestive aid: relieves gas and bloating (carminative), improves appetite and alleviates gastric insufficiency and distress (stomachic), promotes the flow of bile (cholagogue; promotes digestion of fats; may help alleviate fullness and constipation).

Phlegm-resolving: used for cough with excessive sputum (e.g., with common cold, bronchitis, chronic sputum production) and for hoarseness due to stickiness of mucus. Note: the isolated essential oil has stronger phlegm-resolving activity than the tea made from the seed.

Antispasmodic: alleviates intestinal cramping.

Galactagogue: increases milk production in nursing mothers.

Modern findings: The herb has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions; it has antioxidant activity, promoting the production of glutathione; the oil of the seed is estrogenic.

Dosage: 3 grams; lesser amounts in formulas.

Active constituents: Anethole is the main ingredient (90% or more) of the essential oil, which is deemed responsible for the medicinal effects; this same ingredient is found in fennel seed, which is a close botanical relative having similar therapeutic action, and in star anise, which is botanically unrelated but sometimes used as a substitute for anise. Anethole trithione, a synthetic derivative of anise oil, is used to treat xerostomia (insufficient saliva production); this effect is also obtained to a lesser extent with the herb and its oil.

Cautions: Anethole may cause allergy reactions in some individuals.

Künzle Formulas: Tea for Digestion, Laxative Tea, Slimming Tea.