Anise (Pimpinella anisum) Anis (Español)
Plant family: Apiaceae
The seeds of anise have a distinct licorice-like flavor that makes them the "must have" flavoring for biscochito holiday cookies that are so popular here in Northern New Mexico. Anise is related to carrots, celery and our own osha de la sierra.
The aromatic seeds of anise are useful to relax tummy cramps (as are many aromatic herbs). This property in herbal medicine is what is called a "carminative." To soothe a crampy tummy simmer ½ teaspoon of anise seeds in 1 cup of water for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink. The presence of anetheol polymers including dianethole and photoanethole have estrogenic properties and have been used for the symptoms of menopause, increasing libido and promoting menstruation and lactation.
Anise also is commonly used here in Northern New Mexico as a tea for colicky babies and is an old time remedy for hiccups .
It is a common ingredient in many curries and present in the popular beverage from India called chai tea along with cinnamon, ginger and even black pepper.
Pregnant women should not consume large amounts (over 1/2 level teaspoon per day) as anise has estrogen like effects that are not appropriate in pregnancy.
It is important to purchase anise that is organically grown, as much of the anise available is sprayed with insecticides.
- Rob Hawley, herbalist and owner of Taos Herb Company.