Anise /ˈænɪs/, Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor has similarities with some other spices, such as star anise, fennel and liquorice.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including the black jelly bean, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Netherland muisjes, Norwegian knotts, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India. Anise is also used in the Vietnamese noodle soup Pho.
- Anise, like fennel, contains anethole, a phytoestrogen.
- Anise has been used to treat menstrual cramps.
- The main use of anise in European herbal medicine was for its carminative effect, as noted by John Gerard in his “Great Herball,” an early encyclopedia of herbal medicine.
- The essential oil has reportedly been used as an insecticide against head-lice and mites.
- Anise seed infusion made by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon anise seed and sweeten with honey has been used to treat smoker’s cough.