Anise (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.

Composition

Anise contains an abundant concentration of flavonoids. Phytochemical studies on anise extracts have indicated the presence of various proteins, tannins, glycosides and fixed oils.[1]

  • The major constituents of anise essential oil are anethole, γ-himachalene, cis-isoeugenol and linalool.[2]

Healing Properties

Analgesic

Pimpinella anisum exhibits significant analgesic activities.

  • The analgesic effect of Anise essential oil was reported to be similar to morphine and aspirin.[2]

Anesthetic

Compounds of Anise oil, such as eugenol and estragole, have anesthetic properties.[2]

Anti-diabetic effect

Administration of anise oil reduced serum levels of glucose.[3]

Antiinflammatory

Antioxidant

The anise plant has strong antioxidant activity with the potential to prevent the damage caused by oxidizing agents produced in the body (free radical scavenging activity).[1]

Antimicrobial

Antifungal

Studies have scientifically proved the antimicrobial and antifungal activities of anise.[1]

Antiviral

Digestion

Anise oil has a positive effect on the digestion of food. This effect may be attributed to the active compounds of anise such as anethole, eugenol, anisaldehyde, estragol and methylchavicol, which have a special tonic effect on the digestive system.[3]

Anti-ulcer

Neuroprotective

Anise provides neuro-protection by preventing oxidative stress in the brain.[1]

Anti-epileptic

Compounds of Anise oil, such as eugenol and estragole, have anti-epileptic properties.[2] Previous studies well demonstrated anticonvulsant activity of eugenol and estragole in Anise oil.[2]

Behavioral Health

GABA receptors

Studies have reported that anise oil may cause activation of the GABA receptors.[2]

Learning

Anise can enhance the brain's ability to learn new activities and help retain learned skills:

  • Aqueous extract of anise reduced the transfer latencies (measuring how long it takes for a behavior to begin after a specific verbal demand or event has occurred) which is an indication of improvement in learned activity.[1]
  • Aqueous extract of anise resulted in higher inflexion ratio (a parameter used to find the retention of learned skills).[1]
Memory

Aqueous extract of Anise improves memory both by preventing oxidative stress and by providing neuro-protection.[1]

Spatial Learning

Administration of P. anisum essential oil resulted in an improvement of learning performance and spatial memory.[4]

Muscle Relaxer

Compounds of Anise oil, such as eugenol and estragole, have muscle relaxant properties.[2]

Disease / Symptom Treatment

Dementia

Dementia is a group of symptoms characterized by progressive loss of memory, cognition impairment and decline in overall routine performance.

  • Aqueous extract of Anise improves memory both by preventing oxidative stress and by providing neuro-protection.[1]

Diabetes

Hyperglycemia

  • Anise Oil prevents hyperglycemia thereby significantly decreasing lipid peroxidation (a marker of oxidative stress in erythrocytes and plasma).[3]
  • Anise Oil decreases glucose levels indicating control over oxidative stress as hyperglycemia can directly cause increased generation of reactive oxygen species as glucose undergoes auto-oxidation and generate OH radicals. In addition, glucose reacts with proteins in a non-enzymatic manner leading to the development of amadori products followed by formation ofAdvanced Glycation Endproducts.[3]

Headaches

Cholesterol

Hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia means your blood has too many lipids (fats), such as cholesterol and triglycerides. One type of hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, means there's too much LDL cholesterol in your blood.

  • Anise oil led to a significant decrease in the level of cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL-c levels.[3]
    • The mechanism by which anise oil ameliorates cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL-c are its antioxidant properties and radical scavenging activity.[3]
      • The polyphenols present in the anise oil could donate electrons and react with free radicals to convert them into stable products and terminate the free radical chain whereas other compounds in the oil act as chain-breaking agents in lipid peroxidation.[3]

Menopause

Hot Flashes

Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)

Mercury Poisoning

Treatment with Pimpinella anisum essential oil could improve learning disabilities associated with mercury exposure during the developmental period. P. anisum essential oil resulted into an improvement of learning performance and reduction of mercury in the blood and brain mercury.[4]

Migraine headaches

Of all the compounds in anise oil, anethole may have the most important role in the treatment of migraine attacks.[2] Anethole has a similar structure to dopamine. Therefore it is postulated that anethole acts as an antagonist of dopamine in binding to the dopamine receptors. Due to the role of dopamine in inducing migraine attacks, it is proposed that the use of a dopamine antagonist could also block the chain of migraine attack cascade.[2]

There are neuro-physiological similarities between migraines and epilepsy, therefore some antiepileptic therapies are used to treat migraines.[2] Compounds of Anise oil, such as eugenol and estragole, have anesthetic, muscle relaxant and anti-epileptic properties which could help relieve migraine headaches.[2]

Another hypothesis proposed to stop migraine attacks is activation of the GABA pathway. The plasma levels of GABA are not detectable during a migraine attack, however, the levels increase after the migraine event is over. Anise oil may cause activation of the GABA receptors.[2] Therefore, GABA pathway activation may be another mechanism of action of anise oil in preventing or stopping migraine attacks.[2]

Adverse Affects

Phytoestrogen

Phytoestrogens are plant derived compounds which have estrogenic effects similar to estrogen. Phytoestrogens is an estrogenic agent, directly or indirectly interfering with the physiological effect of estrogens and interfere with the function of male reproductive system.[3]

The main active ingredient of the anise oil, anethole, has been considered as the active estrogenic agent. Anise oil also contain safrol, which lowers the level of androgen and leads to hormonal disturbance and decrease sperm count. Furthermore, it has been suggested that estrogen exposure interferes with the androgen receptor pathway and affect the late steps of spermatogenesis. According to the traditional thinking, drinking anise by boys may be harmful to their reproductive system.[3]

  • High levels of anise intake have been shown to cause hormonal disturbances in males and decrease sperm count.[3]

    • Decrease in Follicle stimulating hormone.
    • Decrease in Luteinizing hormone.
    • Decrease in testosterone.
  • Safrol is toxic in a concentration of 1% of the diet, producing weight loss, testicular atrophy, bone marrow depletion and also produces tumors in two-thirds of the animals treated with it.

Weight Gain

  • Anise oil consumption led to an increase in body weight.[3]
    • One of the active compounds of anise, Anethole, is also the main compound in pathogenic microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract where it showed an increasing effect on weight gain (body weight).[3]

Sources:

  1. Study Type: Animal Study
    Title: MEMORY ENHANCING EFFECT OF ANISE (PIMPINELLA ANISUM)WITH RESPECTTO ITS ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY IN ALBINO MICE
    Author(s): A. Mushtaq, R. Anwar, and M. Ahmad
    Institution(s): Punjab University College of Pharmacy, University of the Punjab, Allama Iqbal Campus Lahore, 54000 Pakistan; Gulab Devi Institute of Pharmacy, Gulab Devi Educational Complex, Main Ferozpur Road Lahore, 54000 Pakistan
    Publication: The Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences
    Date: April 2019
    Abstract: The study was conducted to explore memory enhancing effect of Anise(Pimpinella anisum)to substantiate the scientific basis of its traditional use as a neurotic remedy. Aqueous (aqP.a) and n-hexane (nhP.a) fractions of crude Anise extracts were 1st investigated for phytochemical and antioxidant analysis and then administered to mice for behavioral (by usingelevated plus maze (EPM), light dark test and hole board paradigms) and biochemical investigations. Flavonoids, tannins and phenols were found to be 127.43 ± 1.94, 201.04 ± 1.57 and 209.83 ± 1.30 mg/g, respectively for aqP.aand 125.33 ±2.18, 74.66 ± 1.20 and 42.87 ± 1.65 mg/g, respectively for nhP.a. Values of IC50were recorded as 37.48 and 166.53μg/ml for aqP.a and nhP.a respectively. Moreover, aqP.a significantly(P < 0.001)improved inflexion ratios in EPM test and biochemical parameters like glutathiones, catalases and superoxide dismutases. The levels of acetylcholinesterase(AChE) and malondialdehyde (MDA) were significantly(P < 0.001)reduced by aqP.a as compared to nhP.a. The findings thus suggested that only aqueous extract of Anise improves memory both by preventing oxidative stress and by providing neuroprotection to cholinergic pathways against AChE.
    Link: Source
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  2. Study Type: Human Study: In Vivo, Human: Meta Analysis
    Title: Efficacy of Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) oil for migraine headache: A pilot randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial
    Author(s): Seyed Hamdollah Mosavat, Abbas Rahimi Jaberi, Zahra Sobhani, Maryam Mosaffa-Jahromi, Aida Iraji, Amin Moayedfard
    Institution(s): Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; Department of Neurology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; Quality Control Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; Central Research Laboratory, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; Student Research Committee, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
    Publication: Journal of Ethnopharmacology
    Date: May 2019
    Abstract: Migraine is an episodic severe headache, which is generally associated with nausea or/and sound and light sensitivity (Sadeghi et al., 2015). It is one of the frequent complaints encountered by neurologists in daily practice. Previous reports showed migraine affects up to 12 percent of the general population(Lipton et al., 2001).Although several treatments have been proposed for the treatment of migraine, it is still not completely manageable. Hence, patients are usually looking for herbal remedies to control migraines (Jivad et al., 2016). Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) which belongs to the Apiaceae family is one of the oldest medicinal herbs and widely used spice plants. Anise components are used in perfumery, food and cosmetic industries. Previous studies showed that Anise have a variety of biological activities(Miething et al., 1990).Aniseeds have a variety of properties such as antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, antioxidant, muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and analgesic. It also has good effects on diseases like diabetes, hyperlipidemia, dysmenorrhea, hot flash and gastrointestinal diseases(Shojaii and Abdollahi Fard, 2012). In traditional medicine, Anise has been used as analgesic, appetizer, sedative, expectorant, carminative hepatoprotective, galactagogue, and disinfectant(Aiswarya et al., 2018). Moreover in several Persian medicine resources, such as Liber continens of Rhazes (865-925 AD) (Hashempur et al., 2017), Canon of Medicine by Avicenna (980-1037 AD)(Mosavat et al., 2017) , and the Storehouse of Medicaments written by Aghili Shirazi (1670–1747 AD) (Shakeri et al., 2018), Anise oil has been used for management of various neurological diseases, including headache and; it is also believed to have neuroprotective effects (Gorji and Khaleghi Ghadiri, 2001; Zargari, 1995; Shojaii and Abdollahi Fard, 2012). Regarding the traditional use of Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) as well as its known favorable effects in current studies, we decided to design a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of topical anise essential oil in management of patients with migraine headache.
    Link: Source
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  3. Study Type: Animal Study
    Title: Effect of Anise (Pimpinella Anisum L.) as Phytoestrogen on Some Sex Hormones and Biochemical Parameters
    Author(s): Eman G.E. Helal, Mohamed A. Abd-El-Aziz, Shaimaa S. Ahmed
    Institution(s): Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Al-Azhar University (Girls), Cairo, Egypt; Physiology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University (Boys), Cairo, Egypt
    Publication: The Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine
    Date: April 2019
    Abstract: Background: Phytoestrogen is a plant derived compound which have estrogenic effect similar to estrogen.Aim of work: The present study was carried out to investigate some pharmacological and biochemical effects of anise oil on male albino rats. Materials and methods: twelve animals were divided randomly into two groups. Group A: Control. Group B: treated rats. The treated rats were given an oral dose of 1 ml/kg body weight/day anise oil once daily for one month. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected for biochemical analysis.Results:The anise oil induced highly significant decrease (p<0.01) in TC, TG, LDL, VLDL, LDL/HDL. In addition,significant increase (p<0.05) in HDL and highly significantly decreased in FSH, LH, testosterone and sperm count compared to normal control group.Conclusion: This study showedthat high levels of anise intake cause hormonal disturbance and decrease sperm count.
    Link: Source
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  4. Study Type: Animal Study
    Title: Pimpinella anisum essentiel oil enhances spatial learning performance of rats exposed to Hgcl2 during the developmental period
    Author(s): Arabi Wafaa, Kahloula Khaled, Adli Djallal E.H., Ziani Kaddour, Slimani Miloud
    Institution(s):
    Publication: South Asian Journal of Experimental Biology
    Date: April 2018
    Abstract: The essential oil of Pimpinella anisum has been widely used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of diseases. This study was aimed to test, in vivo, effect of exposition to mercury chloride (100mg/L) in wistar rats during the gestation and lactation period. On the other hand, treatment of pups with essential oil of P. anisum (0.25 ml/kg) for 21 days. The behavioural patterms evaluated was spatial memory ( Morris water maze) and the determination of mercury concentration in blood and brain. The data were analysed by two way analyses of variance (ANOVAs). When a significant difference was found, the Student Newman Keuls post hoc test was conducted. The results of the present study demonstrated that exposure to mercury in developmental period induced, significantly decrease of the learning performance (p < 0.01; p < 0.05) compared to control rats. Thus, the concentration of mercury in the intoxicated group is high in the blood and brain. However, the administration of P. anisum essential oil resulted into an improvement of learning perfor-mance (p< 0.01; p< 0.05) and reduction of mercury blood and brain mercury. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that mercury exposure during the developmental period induces learning disabilities and remains trapped in blood and brain. This could be improved by the treatment with Pimpinella anisum essential oil.
    Link: Source
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