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Aniseed - Natural remedy of the month

   November 2009 


AniseAniseed has a very definite flavour , one of those tastes you either love or hate. Aniseed balls used to be a favourite sweet and aniseed flavoured liqueurs such as the French Pernod or Greek ouzo are still hugely popular.

Aniseed is usually accepted as the name for the seedpods of the anise (pimpinella anisum), a herbal aromatic plant which is native to Egypt and now cultivated across the world. In good conditions, including a rich soil and moderate humidity, anise can grow as high as 70 cms and its bulb, leaves and roots as well as its seeds can all be used for various purposes.

Anise was used by the Romans as a medicine and has also been used for many years to disguise the unpleasant taste of certain other medicines. Pythagoras claimed that anise enhanced man’s strength.

The main constituents found in anise are the B complex vitamins (B1 and B2) plus vitamin C. It also contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron and aromatic essences and medically it is described as a carminative, antispasmodic, an expectorant and a pancreatic stimulant.

Today it is used to help gastric pains and digestive problems and also to help cure insomnia. Some claim anise is a good aphrodisiac and it is also used for migraines and rheumatism.

Anise seeds can be steeped in boiling water at home to produce a natural mouthwash; many mouthwashes and toothpastes sold in natural foods stores also contain anise.

The essential oil extracted from ground anise seeds are said to help loosen phlegm in the throat and lungs and teas containing anise are very effective at helping make coughs more productive. Anise also been used to treat asthma.

The anise fruit has quite a pleasant taste but it is usually the dried leaves or seeds of anise that are used to make an infusion. The dried seeds can be used in cakes and biscuits and also in pot –pourri and the leaves can be added to a salad.

Some ground the seeds of the anise to make a face pack – anise is said to be especially useful in helping to fade freckles.

It is important not to confuse anise or aniseed with liquorice. While they both have a vaguely similar taste, liquorice is a lot stronger and they are actually quite different plants.

Anise can be bought at most health shops and you can also grow your own anise from seeds.


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