Star anise is one spice that always reminds me of Christmas, both in its look and aroma, but also taste. Because of its unusual look it is often used for decorative purposes. Its shape resembles to a snow white so immediately as you see it, Christmas atmosphere seems to be awaken. However, anise is the spice familiar to people from a long time ago. Even the ancient Egyptians used it as a to alleviate toothache or gastrointestinal problems, and all their recipes with anise are permanently documented in hieroglyphs. Records from the ancient Greece also glorify this spice precisely due to its beneficial health effects. Nowadays anise is especially valued in cooking but has a broad use in medicine too for its excellent relieving properties. It is primarily used at overcoming digestion and bloating problems, which is of vital importance for the health of small children. In addition to digestion improvement, anise also reduces menstrual pain. Nursing women often consummate anise in order to stimulate milk production for the baby, not to mention the calming effect babies consequently feel. Anise preparations are also used in mite treatment and psoriasis.
Moreover, anise is widely used in cosmetic industry for the production of creams and soaps, but perfumes too. It is a very common ingredient of men’s perfumes, even though some women’s perfumes also contain anise like Belle d’Opium (Yves Saint Laurent) or Classique Robe (Jean Paul Gaultier). Its fragrant note is usually a part of winter perfumes. Another significant anise product is anise essential oil used in clearance of respiratory pathways. It is an assisting aid for excavation and lung clearing in diseases like bronchitis and asthma. Anise is indispensable in cooking for the preparation of deserts and meat dishes as well. It is very healthy, rich in vitamins, in particular with vitamin C and B group vitamins, minerals, and even fibre, so it’s not surprising that it found its place in the records of a famous Greek philosopher Hippocrates. All that being said make sure to try out for yourself the endless possibilities star anise may give you for the upcoming Christmas.