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Star Anise Surprising Benefits

Star Anise Nutrition Facts

Star anise contains a high level of antioxidants, such as linalool, quercetin, thymol, terpineol, caffeic acid, anethole, kaemferol, and coumaric acid, as well as a significant amount of iron. Also contained in star anise are smaller amounts of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The other active compounds and organic acids, such as shikimic acid, fats, and dietary fiber, also provide star anise with a few extra health benefits. The calorie count in star anise is also quite low, with only 23 calories in 1 tablespoon of whole star anise fruit.

Health Benefits of Star Anise

The most notable health benefits of star anise may include its probable ability to lower the risk of cancer, promote healthy skin, prevent fungal infections, support respiratory health, stimulate the immune system, optimize digestion, boost circulation, and aid sleep.

May Aid in Improving Skin Health

With a relatively high level of various antioxidants, star anise can help to promote the elimination of free radicals throughout the body, particularly those that can cause oxidative stress in the skin. This can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, boost skin elasticity, and cover up old scars and blemishes to keep your skin looking young and vibrant.

May Improve Immune System

The antibacterial effects of star anise are widely researched and well known, and this spice is known to have been used to treat bacterial infections of the stomach and other parts of the body for centuries. Perhaps most importantly, this spice appears to be effective against several antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, making it very valuable to the pharmaceutical industry.

May Act as a Remedy for Respiratory Infections

More specifically, star anise can help in supporting respiratory health, so if you have a cough or sore throat, or feel the early stirrings of the flu, a cup of anise elixir may be able to sort out the inflammation rapidly and neutralize the underlying infection before more serious symptoms arise.

May Act As a Remedy for Sleep Issues

Numerous studies have found that star anise possesses some level of sedative properties, attributed to the antioxidant levels and the magnesium content of the spice. It can stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters that induce relaxation and sleep, making this spice valuable for people who suffer from insomnia and regularly interrupted sleep patterns.

May Improve Circulation

The most notable mineral found in star anise is iron, and a single tablespoon of these small fruiting bodies contains roughly 13% of your daily recommended amount. While eating an entire tablespoon of these fruits is unlikely, the concentration of iron can still help boost red blood cell production, thus increasing energy levels by promoting circulation and proper oxygenation of the body’s extremities.

Can Help Fight Fungal Infections

Most notably, this spice has powerful anti-fungal properties and has been a trusted natural remedy for a huge host of fungal infections, including Athlete’s foot, ringworm, Candida, and other common strains. While most fungal infections are relatively harmless, a regular dosage of star anise elixir can give your immune system the necessary boost against these pathogens.

Can Improve Digestion

Anecdotal evidence points to star anise as being an effective digestive, and the fruits are commonly eaten after meals to promote proper digestion. It can also help to relieve bloating and excess flatulence, while also easing cramping and improving the bacterial balance in your gut for high nutrient uptake efficiency.

May Help Balance Hormones

The effects of star anise on hormone levels are widely studied, as it can have quite a powerful effect on both men and women. In men, it can provide an energetic boost and increase sex drive, whereas in women it can regulate menstrual cycles, control mood swings, and other hormone-driven side effects of menstruation.

May Have Anticancer Potential

The diverse range of antioxidants in this spice, from quercetin and kaemferol to thymol and coumaric acid, can all affect oxidative stress in the body. A team of Malaysian researchers published a study in the South African Journal of Botany, which stated that trans-anethole, one of the major constituents of Illicium verum Hook (the scientific name of star anise), has been reported to have antitumor activity against, breast cancer, cervical carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, and Ehrlich ascites tumor. Meanwhile, research is undergoing to conclude if it has the ability to reduce the progression of colon cancer. 

Side Effects of Star Anise

While many people praise this spice for its potential health benefits and antioxidant effects, it is important to consider the various side effects connected to it including drug interactions, hormonal fluctuation, and various allergic reactions.

  • Drug Interactions – Excessive use of this spice, or the consumption of anise supplements, may lead to interactions or complications with other drugs, such as those used for cancer or hormonal regulation. If you have any prescribed medications, it is best to speak with your allergy before adding star anise to your health regimen.
  • Hormones – As mentioned, the active ingredients in this spice can have an effect on hormones, particularly estrogen levels, which can cause fluctuations in mood and other bodily functions. If you are already struggling with a hormonal disorder, medicinal levels of this spice may not be a wise choice.
  • Allergies – Many people have varying levels of allergic sensitivity to this spice. Some people will experience mild itching or a rash when topical applications of this spice are used, whereas others may suffer from mild to severe gastrointestinal distress and inflammation when consumed. Speak with a doctor about your allergic sensitivities before using star anise.

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -