Anise seed essential oil health Benefits & Side Effects

Anise seed essential oil


Anise essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the fruits, roots, and seeds of Pimpinella anisum L. This plant contains 1.5–5% essential oil which is clear, colorless to pale yellow liquid. They can be jellified at 14‐16°C because of their trans‐anethole content (1). Anise seed essential oil benefits are as follows.

Uses of Anise essential oil

Anise essential oil is widely used in the food industry as an aromatic agent. It has antioxidant, anti spoilage properties and therefore used as a preservative in food. This oil is often used to flavor alcoholic drinks such as aspernod, ouzo, and anisette. Also used for flavoring bread, cakes, candies, beverages, fish, poultry, soups, root vegetable dishes, sweets, ice cream, chewing gum, pickles. Due to its anti spoilage property anise essential oil is also used in preserving meat, meat products, fish dishes, rice, and fruits (2).

Geographical distribution

It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia.  Commercial production of anise seed and anise essential oil is concentrated in countries in South Asia, Europe, North Africa, and also Russia.

History of Anise essential oil 

Anise essential oil has been cultivated since ancient times, initially in Egypt and later in Greece, Rome, and the Middle East.

Constituents of Anise essential oil

The main constituents of anise oil are trans-anethole and estragole. Other compounds that were found with a concentration higher than 0.06% were (E)-methyl eugenol, α-cuparene, α-himachalene, β-bisabolene, p-anisaldehyde, and cis-anethole (3).

Nutrients Percentage
trans-anethole 93.9%
estragole 2.4%
γ-himachalene 3.13%
cis-isoeugenol 1.99 %
linalool 1.79 %
caryophyllene 4.8 %
limonene 2.3%

Health benefits of Anise seed essential oil

Anise seed essential oil exhibits various pharmacological effects like antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, fungicide, asthma, chronic cough, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, diuretic, mild expectorant, stomachic, anticonvulsant, carminative, milk secretion inducer,  and intestinal purifier.

1. Antimicrobial properties of Anise seed essential oil

It contains antimicrobial compounds like trans-anethole, anisaldehyde, estragole, anisketone which fight against various bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus vulgaris (4). This oil also inhibits the growth of fungi like Ternaria alternata, Aspergillus niger, A. parasiticus, A. flavus, Candida parapsilosis, C. albicans, C. glabrata, Fusarium verticillioides and Geotrichum spp. Moreover, this essential oil shows antifungal activity against dermatophytes such as Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum and M. canis (5).

2. Muscle Relaxant properties of Anise essential oil 

Anethole present in anise essential oil plays an important role in muscle relaxation and inflammation. This oil is also used for the treatment of respiratory complaints like cough associated with cold. Therefore is very beneficial to decrease resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs and prevent airway inflammation in asthma patient (6).

3. Anticonvulsant properties of Anise essential oil 

Anise oil contains trans-anethole, estragole, linalool, α-terpineol, and cis-anethole which act as a sedative, anti-hypoxia, and anticonvulsant agent. Thus suppress epileptic and seizures attack by prolonged time, reduce the amplitude and duration of attack as well as inhibit the production of dark neurons in different regions of the brain thus useful for the treatment of epilepsy, tonic seizures. and neurological disorders (7).

4. Insecticidal properties of Anise essential oil

Trans-anethole in the oil shows insecticide effect against larvae of Lycoriella ingénue, mosquitoes like Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti, and Culex quinquefasciatus (8). p-anisaldehyde found in this oil inhibits the growth of head lice and house dust mites such as Dermatophagoides farina, and D. pteronyssinus. Moreover vapors of anise oil show 100% mortality of the eggs of two stored-product insects (the confused flour beetle, Tribolium confusum, and the Mediterranean flour moth, Ephestia kuehniella) (9).

5. Antiviral properties of Anise essential oil 

Anise essential oil contains phenols that show wonderful antiviral effects against PVX (potato virus), TMV (tobacco mosaic virus), and TRSV (tobacco ringspot virus). Therefore these oil phenols block the infection sites on the leaf surface and interact with virions which further loss of virus infectivity (10).

6. Anise essential oil Increase glucose absorption and antidiuretic properties

Anise oil contains trans-anethole increases glucose absorption in the intestine and makes ingested glucose available in the blood for use by the cells. This oil also helps conserve water in the body and prevent dehydration. Furthermore, anise oil also acts as an antidiuretic agent which helps to control fluid balance by reducing urination (11).  

7. Treat depression with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Anise oil contains a natural biological compound that is helpful for the treatment of depressed patients with irritable bowel syndrome (12). The oral intake of anise oil and its antioxidants is very helpful to ameliorate chronic mild stress-related symptoms  (13). Furthermore, Anise essential oil and its ingredient has a favorable effect on gastrointestinal diseases which is helpful to treat IBS symptoms such as abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation severity, difficulty in defecation, gastroesophageal reflux, headache, tiredness, overall satisfaction and quality of life (14).

8. Estrogenic properties of Anise essential oil 

Anethole found in anise oil acts as estrogenic agents which increase milk secretion, promote menstruation, facilitate birth alleviate the symptoms of male menopause, and increase sexual desire (15).

9. Reduce the pain of migraine attacks

Anise oil cream shows a wonderful effect on reducing the frequency and duration of migraine attacks. As it contains anethole which acts as a dopamine antagonist and blocks the chain of migraine attack cascade. Moreover, it also contains eugenol and estragole have anesthetic, muscle relaxant, and anti-epileptic properties which could help relieve migraine headaches (16).

10. Treat Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Anise oil is a rich source of Trans-anethole which decreases total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triacylglycerol and increases high-density lipoprotein level as well as relieves oxidative stress. Thus this oil is very helpful for the treatment of chronic liver disorders caused by the irregular accumulation of fat in liver tissue (NAFLD) (17).

11. Treat Anxiety and Memory Impairment

Inhalation of anise essential oil significantly improved memory formation and treat anxiety, and depression Thus this oil very useful to prevent neurological abnormalities closely related to Alzheimer’s disease (18).

Side effects of Anise essential oil

Consumption of anise oil normally did not represent a risk to human health. However, when consumed in excess quantities, anise oil may induce nausea, vomiting, seizures, and pulmonary edema. Contact of the concentrated oil with skin can cause irritations (19).

1. The recommended dose for cough and cold

Anise oil (50–200 μL) can be consumed three times daily for not more than two weeks. The presence of estragole in this oil and lack of clinical study should not permit this oil to use in children and adolescents under 18 years of age (20).

2. hyperexcitability due to anise oil

This oil also produces hyperexcitability include enhancement of Ca(2+) channels activity or inhibition of voltage and/or Ca(2+) dependent K(+) channels, therefore, precaution is needed when this oil is used for treating patients suffering from epilepsy (21).

3. Risk of Anti-fertility

Anethole obtained in this oil show antifertility effects and mild oestrogenic activity thus the excess intake of this oil should avoid during pregnancy and lactation period (22).

4. Sensitizing and irritating properties of Anise oil

Anethole, alpha-pinene, limonene, and safrole found in anise oil (1-2 %). It is responsible for active sensitization and irritant in patients with dermatitis. Therefore Persons who have a sensitivity to anethole should avoid anise and its oil in dermatitis, or any inflammatory or allergic skin conditions (23).

5. Risk of herb-drug interactions

A research study suggested that the person who is taking drugs like codeine, diazepam, midazolam, pentobarbital, imipramine, and fluoxetine which act on the central nervous system should avoid anise oil consumption because it increases these drug side effects due to potential herb-drug interactions (24).

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Trending Articles on Essential Oils

  1. Lemon Grass Essential Oil Health Benefits
  2. Tea Tree Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  3. Eucalyptus Oil Health Benefits 
  4. Lemon Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  5. Peppermint Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  6. Rosemary Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  7. Fennel Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  8. Ginger Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  9. Turmeric Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects
  10. Thyme Essential Oil Health Benefits & Side Effects