alfalfa-flower Aniseed

Aniseed | Pimpinella anisum

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include aniseed, anise, anis, anise seed (not to be confused with the star anise, a large tree), sweet anise.

It is more at home in warmer climates of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and southern Asia but will grow in a sunny, well drained spot on a light soil in British gardens quite happily. The pretty white flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, the flower heads attract birds.

It is an annual plant (grows from seed, flowers, sets seed and dies in one year) and member of the Apiaceae family (like celery, carrots, cow parsley etc). It can reach around 2 feet in height and has bright green feathery leaves and delicate white flowers arranged in umbrella shaped heads which appear around July. The whole plant is aromatic.


Aniseed is prized for its strong tasting aromatic seeds which are dried and used in many beverages, confectioneries and foods as a flavouring. The whole plant yields an aromatic oil used in aromatherapy and perfumery.


Dried aniseed is available to buy in our herbal shop.



harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

As the seeds are the part used medicinally, the seeds can be allowed to ripen in the flower heads. When the flower has finished (around august time), the whole head is picked as it is easier to extract the seeds later. Make sure you keep the flower head upright as the tiny seeds will easily fall out and be lost. Put the seeds heads in a large paper bag and gently shake the bag to allow the seeds to drop into the bag. Once you have your harvest, have a good look through them and discard any damaged seeds before laying them out on a tray to ensure they are fully dried before storing them. Use a glass or ceramic airtight jar and store in a cool dark place.
The essential oil of aniseed is also used externally in aromatherapy.
The flowers or leaves can be used in salads in small amounts to add an interesting aniseed flavour.
Dried aniseed is available to buy in our herbal shop.







therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Aniseed can be used as a flavouring agent for more unpleasant tasting medicinal teas as it imparts an aromatic sweetness capable of disguising all but the most bitter or spicy of herbs.


It is a useful expectorant used in all forms of coughs (including whooping cough), chest complaints such as bronchitis and chest infections and benefits the health of the lungs and respiratory system generally.
Carminative and antispasmodic action (prevents spasms) of the seeds has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle so used to help in colic, indigestion, flatulence and tummy pains, helps protect against stomach ulcers, ease morning sickness, help prevent heartburn and soothe the symptoms of IBS.
Aniseeds also show a blood sugar reducing activity which could be helpful in cases of high blood sugar and diabetes.
The seeds are reputed to be effective against parasites and can be used externally to help treat scabies and headlice.
They have been used traditionally in the relief of convulsions, nervous excitability and tension, as a pain killer in cases of arthritis and rheumatism, to reduce dizziness and to help headaches caused by digestive upset.
Has a mildly stimulating laxative effect that can be used for chronic constipation in combination with other more purgative and gripe inducing laxative herbs such as senna for example.
Aniseed exhibits an oestrogenic activity and can be used to promote menstruation, to help prevent osteoporosis, to reduce incidences of hot flushes during the menopause, to increase milk production in breast feeding mothers and to benefit women during the low oestrogen phases of menopause.
Breast feeding mothers can benefit from drinking aniseed tea as it increases the quantity and quality of the breast milk and also passes on the anti-colic action to the baby.
Chewing on the dried seeds helps to sweetens bad breath.
The essential oil and tincture of the seeds is broadly antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-fungal, especially when combined with essential oil or tincture of common thyme.
Click this link for an interesting collection of studies that discuss the medicinal actions of aniseed.

dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Aniseed is considered a safe herb when used in moderation and not taken daily for longer periods.

*Aniseed has blood sugar reducing properties so take this fact into account if taking blood sugar controlling medications and for diabetes.

*Many sources will state not to take during pregnancy or whilst breast feeding. Perhaps this is related to the fact that aniseed can bring on delayed or absent menstruation and is mildly stimulating on the womb. This contradicts many years of traditional use as a gentle remedy for mild morning sickness and to improve milk flow.

*Has been known in rare cases to cause contact dermatitis in those sensitive to the Apiaceae family.



Dried seed in tea form: 1 -2 teaspoons, 3 times daily. Crush the seeds lightly before adding boiling water to help release the volatile oils.

Dried seeds can also be added to cakes and baking in their powdered or whole form.

The essential oil should not be taken internally unless under guidance from an experienced practitioner.

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
To give directly to babies who are colicky, use a teaspoon of lightly crushed seeds to a cup of boiling water. When cool, give a teaspoon or so of the tea before feeds or meals.

Child watering plants




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