Milica Aćimović, Nevena Dojčinović

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5937/leksir1434003A


Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) is an annual plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is grown for fruit (Anisi fructus), containing 2-3% essential oil (Anisi aethroleum) with trans-anethole which is a dominant compound and has a characteristic sweet taste and smell. Anise is used in folk medicine in many countries for treatment of digestive, respiratory and neurological diseases, as well as natural estrogen. It has been found recently to have anti-cancer, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and in many countries anise is included in the pharmacopeias as the official drug. This paper provides an overview of the use of anise with scientifically confirmed effects.

Anis is generally recommended as a carminative, digestive agent and improves the regulation of digestion. Experiments showed that anise, in combination with other plants is a safe and efficient alternative therapy for chronic constipation. Also, it was found that anise increases the secretion of salivary glands leading to an increase of pH in the mouth. Furthermore, it can be used for mechanically rinsing the oral cavity, thereby removing dental plaque. Apart from possessing antibacterial activity, anis is effective in the suppression of bacteria which cause dental caries. Anise fruit extract significantly decreases the gastric acid secretion and acidity and thereby inhibits the formation of ulcers in the stomach.

It was experimentally confirmed that the extract of anise has a hepatoprotective effect, i.e. its application leads to a significant improvement of the destructive changes in the liver, caused by CCl4 and the artificialsweetener aspartame. Additionally, it possesses anti-diabetic activity, i.e. anise significantly increases glucose absorption in the small intestine, while having no effect on the amount of the water absorbed from the colon. In adition, anise significantly reduces the diuresis. The introduction of anise in the diet ensures that the glucose is available to cells and that water is conserved in the body thus preventing dehydration.

In many countries, anis is recommended for the treatment of the respiratory tract. Experiments have shown the bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effect of anise, thus confirming its effectiveness in the treatment of bronchial asthma. Also, anise is used throughout the world in the treatment of neurological diseases. Studies have found that the plant works as an antiepileptic and as an analgesic.

Anise is a herb that has been used for centuries as an estrogenic agent. In women with symptoms of primary dysmenorrhoea the application of anise leads to a reduction of the bleeding period and menstrual pain. In postmenopausal women it effectively reduces hot flashes. In addition, anise acts preventively on osteoporosis caused by estrogen deficiency as it retains calcium in the bones.

By using modern scientific methods it has been found that the reactive oxygen species cause oxidative damage to biomolecules, which as a result form many acute and chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, aging, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, myocardial infarction, apoplexy, chronic inflammation, etc. Anise shows high antioxidant activity. Furthermore, it can be classified as a food for prevention and treatment of cancer, because it was found to have cytostatic activity on human prostate cancer cells and is safe for normal cells.

Numerous studies found a wide range of anise effects on microorganisms. It works on bacteria as gram positive and gram-negative, which indicates a high antibacterial potential of this plant, especially if we take into account production costs, availability and efficiency. It can be concluded that the extract is effective and inexpensive alternative to synthetic antibiotics. Additionally, in contrast to synthetic antibiotics, bacteria do not develop resistance to phytochemicals. A large number of fungi on which the anise essential oil has antifungal effects are confirmed. The same effect was observed on viruses such as Herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, measles viruses and amoebas (Entamoeba histolytica) that cause dysentery. All this classifies anise as a functional food against infectious diseases.


anise fruit; digestive system; nervous system; bronchial asthma; estrogenic activity; antimicrobial activity

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