5-Minute Health Tip: Star Anise

Star anise is a star-shaped fruit with a licorice-like taste that hails from Southern China. Its medicinal properties have been used to help heal:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Lung inflammation
  • Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Influenza
  • Swine flu
  • Bird flu
  • Menstrual ailments

Studies have shown it holds exceptional antioxidant, antiviral, and antifungal potential.

Shikimic Acid Offers Anti-Viral Protection

Shikimic acid is the plant-based compound used to make the popular antiviral medicine Tamiflu…and star anise happens to be packed with it! In fact, star anise possesses greater concentrations of shikimic acid than either gingko or sweetgum fruit.

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Medical Virology, shikimic acid helps boost immune function and protect against viral infection when used in conjunction with quercetin, another plant-based antioxidant.

Anti-Fungal Properties Shield Against Infection

South Korean researchers demonstrated the anti-fungal powers of star anise when they tested it against candida albicans, a yeast that naturally grows inside the mouth, throat, intestines, and genitourinary tract of humans. If a person’s immune system or microbial balance is compromised however, then candida overgrowth and the risk of serious infection can occur. Studies indicate that star anise offers promising anti-fungal protection against such occurrences.

An Antioxidant So Strong It May Protect Against Cancer

Antioxidants protect the body by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage cells and DNA and trigger disease processes. The antioxidant properties in star anise may even be strong enough to help inhibit cancer development. A 2007 study published in the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions showed that lab rats given star anise after being subjected to artificially induced liver cancer experienced dramatically less evidence of cancer development than did lab rats not fed star anise.

A small dose delivers an astounding amount of nutrients. Just 100 grams of star anise boasts 21 milligrams of vitamin C, 311 IU of vitamin A, 646 milligrams of calcium, and 440 milligrams of phosphorous. Star anise is also packed with B vitamins, such as:

  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Pyridoxine
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Folates

How To Use Star Anise 

Before using star anise as a spice or a tea you must make sure it is Chinese star anise and not Japanese star anise. They look virtually the same, but Japanese star anise is toxic and inedible and to be used for burning incense only!

You can benefit from Chinese star anise is several different ways: ground up as a component of a homemade Asian spice, or used to sweeten soups and meat dishes, or as an ingredient for pastries, breads, and desserts. You can also boil star anise in water to make a soothing tea for bronchial cough, indigestion, and digestive upsets.