Anise is commonly known for its use in various foods and liquors across the world. With a flavor very similar to licorice, it's an easy ingredient to distinguish. Aside from its use in food and liquor, anise is a widely used medicinal supplement.
Anise's scientific name is pimpinella anisum or aniseed. It's a flowering plant (meaning it produces seeds) in the Apiaceae family. It was originally grown in Southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region of the world. The anise plan grows annually and can reach three feet tall. The plant has leaves that are shallow and around half an inch to two inches in length, as well as white flowers that are around three millimeters in diameter. Anise plants produce "fruits" that are around three to five millimeters in length. These fruits contain seed pods where the anise component we use in medicinal supplements in found.
Anise plants are grown in light, well drained, fertile soil, hence why they're native to the eastern Mediterranean region. The plants are not easily transported and usually suffer if they're uprooted and moved to a new location.
The use of anise as a medicinal supplement has been practiced for decades. Its use is popular across the world, though it is especially popular in Middle Eastern countries. Currently, anise is a popular medicinal supplement in Mexico and the Southwestern region of the United States.
Uses and Benefits
As a medicinal supplement, anise comes in a variety of formats, from its usual seed format to powders and pills that can be combined with other supplements or mixed with food or liquids. Since it's a natural plant (compared to a synthetic plant), anise is also considered very healthy and the list of benefits is extensive. Anise is a herb and as previously explained, this means that the plant is composed of seeds, fruits, and oil. All of these components are used in the medicinal supplement, and occasionally (though not as frequently), the root and leaves of the plant are also used.
Anise seeds have been used as medicinal supplements since ancient civilizations. Ancient Mediterranean and ancient Middle Eastern civilizations originally used anise as a spice or oil in cooking. They claimed that the seeds and oil had restorative properties. Anise is incredibly aromatic and has a very distinct flavor and smell, making it a wonderful complement to most dishes. Anise was also popularly used in liquors that are frequently found in the Mediterranean region.