English name: Star anise oil
Botanical name: Illicium Verum
Star anise is also known as sweet cumin. It belongs to the fennel and parsley family. The anise fruit is first dried and then star anise oil is extracted from anise seeds in a CO2 extraction process. The CO2 extraction method is used for extracting top grade star anise oil. As compared to the steam distillation method which is used conventionally, the CO2 extraction method yields a greater amount of essential oil.
Optimum particle sizes can be obtained in the SCFE CO2 extraction method. In terms of product yield, saving energy and quality of product, this method is considered far better. Chemistry shared by star anise oil and anise oil is the same and hence star aniseed oil is used to substitute aniseed oil.
Star anise oil extracted by the SCFE Co2 method is hundred percent pure and natural. It has excellent therapeutic properties. Anise oil is a pale yellow and colorless oil is quite characteristic and smells like fennel. Principal constituents of the oil include anethole, methyl chavicol, anisic acid and aldehyde. The oil is falsified with caraway and fennel essential oils as well.
It was used as digestive by the Romans for digesting barley breads and millets by Egyptians during ancient times. It is an excellent culinary spice and used for flavoring foods. The oil is useful in providing fragrance to cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste, perfumes and masking drug odors that are not desirable in drug products.
It helps in insomnia. Star anise oil is used in counteracting fluid retention, treating menopausal symptoms and pre-menstrual syndrome. In both Chinese and Indian medicine, digestive properties of anise oil have been appreciated since long. Indigestion caused by nervousness, anxiety, palpitations due to nervousness besides promoting relaxation and relieving breathing can be treated with a tisane containing aniseed oil.
Star anise oil is popularly used in aromatherapy. Star anise is useful in treating swelling in lungs, respiratory tract infections, influenza, bronchitis, bird flu and swine flu. It is also used for increasing breast milk flow, easing out child birth and to promote menstruation. It helps increase libido and sexual drive and male menopause symptoms.
It is helpful in relieving cramping, colic and coughing. Flatulence and hiccoughs can be prevented by taking this oil. The oil is used for favoring a number of confectioneries, liqueur and alcoholic spirits. In France the oil is used for providing scent to syrups, mouth washes, toothpastes and products in the pharmaceutical industry.
Star anise oil has a shelf life of 2 years or more. It can be dangerous and toxic if taken in excess. For the nervous system it can cause real danger, leading to paralysis and numbness in muscles. Just like pure alcohol, it is quite dangerous. It is best to keep it away from children.
The high methyl chavicol and anethol content in the oil proves to be very toxic. To avoid irritation on skin is must be used in moderation. Health ministries in many of the countries have imposed strict control on use of aniseed oil.