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Star anise(Illicium verum)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Anice stellato, anis de la Chine (French), anis estrellado, anise étoilé (French), anise stars, aniseed, Anisi stellati fructus, ba chio, badain, badaine, badian, badiana, ba(ht) g(h)ok, bart gok, bunga lawang, Chinese anise, Chinese star anise, eight-horned anise, eight horns, I. anisatum, Illicium anisatum L (Japanese star anise), Illicium verum, Illiciumreligiosum, Illicium verum Hook f, pa-chiao, pak kok, peh kah, star anise, sternanis, Tamiflu®.

Background

  • Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) should not be confused with anise (Pimpenella anisum), a member of the carrot family, or with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum). Chinese star anise (star anise) is native to China and Vietnam and has been used for its carminative (reduces gas), stomachic (digestive aid), stimulant, and diuretic medicinal properties. Star anise is used by the Malays to combat stomachache due to the accumulation of intestinal gas, headache, and to promote vitality.
  • Shikimic acid extracted from the pods (which wraps the seeds) of star anise is the starting material of Tamiflu®. Tamiflu® (Roche Laboratories) is an antiviral drug which has gained popularity with the recent spread of the bird flu (H5N1). Roche Laboratories and its partners mainly use the shikimic acid extracted from Chinese star anise. However, they are developing new technologies that use an E. coli bacteria that produces shikimic acid when overfed glucose.
  • In September 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers not to consume teas containing star anise. Such teas have been linked with serious neurological effects such as seizures, vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement. Some reports have found Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) to be contaminated with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), which is a known neurotoxin. Chinese star anise is recognized as safe for food use by the FDA, as acknowledged in the FDA's advisory. Chinese star anise is believed to help with colic in infants; however, the FDA is unaware of scientific evidence to support this claim. In addition, the FDA has not identified the specific type of star anise associated with the adverse effects. Similar reports of adverse effects have been found in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington in the United States as well as the Netherlands, Spain, and France.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.