advertisement



Cooking & Recipes


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Cooking With Spices: Anise

cooking with spices anise

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a flowering plant, part of the Apiaceae family, native to southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean regions. It grows to about three feet in height, with leaves that are long and dense at the bottom of the plant and feathery with white flowers at the top. Its dried fruit is the spice known as both anise and aniseed (not to be confused with an unrelated spice known as star anise).

Anise is known for both culinary and medicinal uses. It has a taste similar to that of licorice and fennel. In biblical times, anise was a form of currency, and remains a highly valued crop in Palestine and other areas of the Middle East.

There are many health benefits of anise. As a medicine, anise can act as an expectorant and treat runny noses. It can aid in digestive complaints and stimulate appetite. In India, it is common to chew anise after a meal as a digestive remedy. It has also been used to induce menstruation and birth, increase lactation, address menstrual cramps, and improve libido. Topically, anise may be helpful in treating lice, scabies, and psoriasis. In traditional Arab medicine, essential oil of the aniseed has even been used as an anticonvulsant.

Today, research has documented anise may be helpful in alleviating gastrointestinal issues, including stomach ulcers. An animal study from Saudi Arabia showed that anise inhibited damage to the stomach lining, replenished gastric wall mucous, and decreased acid secretion in rats with already existing ulcers. Human studies are needed to document this protective effect.

Anise has been used in ways that are neither medicinal nor culinary: steam locomotives in Britain incorporated capsules of aniseed oil into the metal bearings so that the distinct smell would warn of overheating. Anise is used in both fishing and hunting as a way to attract prey. It is also available as a fragrance in soap, perfumes and creams.

In culinary settings, anise oil is added to a variety of products, from alcohol and liqueurs (such as ouzo, absinthe, pastis, Sambuca and Jagermeister) to candies, breath fresheners and some root beer sodas. Seeds can be added to baked goods and other desserts, cooked vegetables (especially root and cruciferous vegetables), soups and meats. In Mexico, anise is a key ingredient in a hot chocolate drink called "atole de anís," and it is found in the traditional Italian pizzelle cookie.

Dr. Weil's take on anise:
Most Americans encounter anise rarely, but it's a worthwhile addition to any kitchen. Chewing aniseed is a time-honored remedy for both intestinal gas and bad breath, and I've found it effective for alleviating both conditions. My other favorite use is to add the seeds to steaming or baking root vegetables; it adds a welcome depth of flavor.

You can buy anise as an extract or in seed form. Keep both away from light and heat, in a tightly sealed jar, for up to six months.


Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here