24 Star Anise Benefits and Properties You Didn’t Know About

Updated on December 8, 2022
Tatiana Cooper By Tatiana Cooper
Tatiana Cooper

Expert writer, copywriter, and well-versed beauty and wellness enthusiast.

Table Of Contents

    Star AnisePIN

    24 Star Anise Benefits and Properties You Didn’t Know About

    It’s hard to deny that we all love a good deal, a bang for our buck. When it comes to the spice, medical, skin, hair, and weight loss aid known as star anise, it’s truly here for us in that department. This slight but mitty spice has many uses guaranteed to get you your money’s worth.

    Whether you’re looking to spice up grandma’s old recipe in need of a twist or add something new to your beauty routine, this tiny seed will help you obtain those objectives and some.

    What is Star Anise

    Star anise is a pretty little star-shaped seed pod from the Chinese evergreen tree, Illicium verum. This funky spice has an average of eight points and is filled with itty bitty seeds. This slight and mitty spice is commonly known for its versatility in the cooking and medical fields and is mainly grown in China, Indochina, and Japan.

    The pods are picked and dried out in the sun just before they are ripe, giving them their rich brown or rust color. Traditionally, this spice was used in Chinese medicine and cooking for thousands of years and has recently been accepted in western medical and cooking practices.

    Star anise is also one of the five ingredients in the best-known Chinese spice mixtures, 5-spice powder. Simply put, she’s quite the popular spice.

    For my green thumbs out there, listen up. The Illicium verum plant requires full sun and partial shade to grow and flourish. However, if you live in a warm climate, you could grow star anise in complete shade. It likes the warmth, possibly just as much as women like their scolding hot showers.

    This plant isn’t super fancy regarding soil, as it can grow in any soil type. You could even use your compost or manure as fertilizer for the plant, which will survive fine. It’s pretty low-maintenance if you choose to grow it in your garden.

    Forms of Star Anise

    Whole Star Anise

    The best way to describe how to use a whole star anise spice in your cooking is the same way you’d use a bay leaf. You plop it into whatever you are making, soup, stew, etc., and take it out when it’s time to serve. No one wants to munch on a bay leaf or spiky star anise. However, it’s impossible to know everyone’s preferences, so each to their own.

    Aside from cooking, this pretty spice can be used for decoration, perhaps in a potpourri bowl on a coffee table or strung onto a string. Have fun getting creative and crafty with it.

    When the holidays come around, its whole form is great to toss into a pot of water on the stove with some cinnamon sticks and maybe a few apple and orange slices. After a while of light simmering, your home will smell yummy and sweet, perfect for guests or when you want your home to feel warm and comforting.

    Ground Star Anise

    Ground star anise is more versatile than the whole version. You can grind up the spice or purchase it already ground and put it into any dishes or baked goods without having to remove it. A little goes a long way with this hardy spice, so add by taste.

    If you can’t find it pre-ground at the store, there are ways you can do it yourself at home. All you need are

    1. Whole Star Anise
    2. Spice grinder
    3. Or mortar
    4. Or pestle

    Star Anise Powder

    Star anise powder is similar in use to its ground-up sister. It can be added to any dish to give a hint of sweetness. In powder form, it’s finer and best suited for mixing into drinks. People will drink tea with a sprinkle of this powder for various reasons. For one, some people like its sweet licorice-like taste, while others do it for the health benefits. Some help combats health issues like nausea, which I’m sure many of us feel bright and early on Saturday mornings.

    Zohna Tip

    Add a sprinkle of it to mulled wine or cider to give it a sweet, spicy kick.

    Star Anise Oil

    For skin and hair care, star anise essential oil is your best friend and the star of the show, no pun intended. For all of the skincare addicts out there, you might already know this, but for the ladies and gents that don’t, oil is best used for the skin because they are lipophilic, meaning it can easily penetrate deep into the skin. Oils can trap water and other gooey moisturizing goodness in the skin while keeping toxins out.

    If you thought it ended there with the star anise essential oil benefits for the skin, my friend, you are gravely mistaken because it also can be used as a cooking oil. It’s great when added to your baked goods before popping them into the oven or mixing with some olive oil before dressing a fall salad.

    Aside from skin and cooking, there are many other alternatives to using this robust spice, such as

    • Relaxing tight muscles and using it as a massage oil or mixing it with your moisturizer.
    • Helping to relieve bad breath by adding a few drops to your toothpaste.
    • Putting a few drops into a diffuser to help with congestion.

    Star Anise Flavor

    Star anise is known in the cooking world for its natural sweetness and its mimicry of the taste of licorice. Not to get confused, however, as licorice and star anise have their own identities and are unrelated. The spice has a wide range of notes and many different dimensions in its flavoring.

    Traditionally it’s used in cooking with meat, baked goods, or other dishes that could use a hint of the spice’s sweetness. It’s wise to be cautious when cooking as it can quickly become intense and ruin a dish by overpowering it. Using too much can leave your food with an odd medicinal taste.

    Aside from twinning in flavor with licorice, it tastes similar to other spices like fennel seed and cloves. Not only are those nearly identical in flavor, but their scent is also akin to star anise.

    Star Anise Medicinal Properties

    Besides how it tastes and is used in the kitchen, star anise has many medicinal properties readily used to help with health concerns. This powerful spice can help combat respiratory infections, nausea, constipation, and other digestive issues, along with many other medical concerns that might be causing you problems. It’s also recognized for different biological activities and properties.

    Antibacterial Activity

    Antibacterial properties are important because they protect our bodies against bacteria and viruses, such as microorganisms, biological fluids, and diseases, by slowing down their growth.

    Antifungal Activity

    Antifungal activity is great because it also helps to protect us from certain fungi that could be harmful to us. An overgrowth of fungus in the body from the soil or air and on your skin can cause yeast infections, ringworm, and nail and skin infections.

    Antioxidant Activity

    Antioxidant activity is crucial for your bodies because it helps them to rid themselves of free radicals and may reduce the risk of diseases. They also help reduce oxidative stress and mental and brain health.

    Anti-inflammatory Activity

    Anti-inflammatory activity is where it’s at for helping with inflammation in the body. It’s helpful when you are injured or become injured as it can reduce the body’s reaction to inflaming the sore area. Anti-inflammatory properties help block the production of chemicals in the body that causes swelling.

    Star anise is composed of six health-promoting compounds that contribute to its medicinal properties, such as

    • Linalool
    • Quercetin
    • Anethole
    • Shikimic acid
    • Gallic acid
    • Limonene

    What is Star Anise Used For

    Medical Uses

    There are many uses for this versatile spice that can help aid specific health problems. As mentioned, many components within the spice create its anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. These fantastic properties, combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet, can help fight stomach ulcers, regulate blood sugar levels and reduce some symptoms of depression and menopause.

    There are many different ways to use star anise to try that can help target specific medical issues, such as

    1. Drinking tea to help with coughs and cold
    2. Using star anise oil on external wounds

    There’s an extensive reservoir of star anise tea recipes for coughs and colds that can help elevate symptoms. Depending on the issue you plan to target, you’ll either need to eat it, drink it, or, depending on your physical injury, such as a torn muscle or acne on the face, use the oil to massage the problem area.

    Cooking Uses

    In the cooking sphere, this magic spice can do a lot for your cooking, and some of us could add more flavor to our recipes. Star anise is often paired with savory dishes despite its overall sweet taste. However, it’s excellent added to baked goods like pumpkin pie or gingersnap. There are many dishes and recipes using star anise that can help elevate your meals and teach you how to cook with star anise.

    Here’s a list of more sweet and savory dishes paired great with star anise to get your creative culinary juices flowing:

    Sweet Dishes Savory Dishes
    Ginger Cookies Soups
    Jams Roast Duck
    Warmed Spice Chai Star Anise and Ginger Chicken
    Spiced Pear Tart Roast Turkey

    Summary of Star Anise Usage 

    Usage Description
    Medical Star anise is mixed into teas and made into oils to help external and internal medical concerns.
    Cooking Whole, ground, or powdered star anise is mixed into a variety of dishes to elevate its sweetness and spice levels.

    Star Anise Benefits

    We’re all addicted to finding new ways to improve our skin, hair, and overall appearance. Star anise could be a great place to start when achieving your desired results in those departments. Aside from the benefits already mentioned in helping elevate your cooking or regulating specific medical concerns, star anise benefits us physically. It can assist our skin, weight, and hair if used correctly.

    Star Anise Benefits for Skin

    • Anti-Aging
    • Acne
    • Dark Spot Removal
    • Hydration
    • Tightens skin

    Zohna Tip

    When using star anise for skin and hair care, make sure you use it in the essential oil form.

    Star Anise Benefits for Weight Loss

    • Promotes Healthy Digestion
    • Helps You Stay Full
    • Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
    • Promotes Metabolism Boost

    Star Anise Benefits for Hair

    • Helps Repair Damage
    • Stimulates Growth When Oil is Massaged Into Scalp
    • Anti-septic Properties Help With Scalp Health
    • Helps with shine

    Star Anise Consumption Benefits

    • Improves Digestion
    • Alleviates Cramps
    • Reduces Nausea
    • Reduces Bloating
    • Reduces gas
    • Reduces constipation

    The list of benefits is long and extensive in many categories, making this spice extremely versatile. No one should have star anise just sitting around as there are so many different and creative ways to use it besides eating it if you don’t like the taste.

    Zohna Tip

    It's important to remember that things take time, and the results won't be instant.

    Skin Benefits Anti-aging Acne Dark Spot Removal
    Weightloss Benefits Promotes Healthy Digestion Helps You Stay Full Promotes Metabolism Boost
    Benefits for Hair Helps Repair Damage Stimulates Growth When Oil is Massaged Into Scalp Anti-septic Properties Help With Scalp Health
    Consumption Benefits for Improves Digestion Alleviates Cramps Reduces Nausea

    Star Anise Side Effects

    Like many things, star anise isn’t great for you when you have too much of it; however, there aren’t many significant side effects you need to be aware of when consuming or using the spice, but there are a few to watch out for.

    It’s important to note that there’s another spice similar to the Chinese star anise called Japanese star anise. The Japanese counterpart is derived from the Illicium anisatum tree. They are relatively similar, which makes it easy for the Chinese spice to be adultered with the toxic Japanese star anise, so it’s essential to be careful and limit your consumption. Any side effects of Chinese star anise are heightened if Japanese star anise is consumed instead.

    Allergies

    When using it as an essential oil, it’s never a bad idea to do a patch test to ensure you aren’t allergic to it. If you’re consuming it, it’s best to start with small batches. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you could suffer from a long list of side effects, such as

    • Runny Nose Or Sneezing
    • Coughing Or Wheezing
    • Inchy Skin Or Hives
    • Swollen Eyes, Lips, Mouth, Or Throat

    It’s also possible you may suffer from an allergic reaction from star anise if you already have an allergy to plants such as

    • Asparagus
    • Caraway
    • Celery
    • Coriander
    • Cumin
    • Dill
    • Fennel

    Vomiting

    Suppose you consume too much star anise; you might reject the spice and try to expel it from your body. At that point, letting yourself be sick is essential to get it out of your system.

    Seizures

    The side effect of seizures is severe, and you should be taken straight to the hospital to be evaluated by a medical professional. If you suffer from seizures due to star anise consumption, you have likely taken Japanese star anise as opposed to the Chinese counterpart.

    Side Effects On Children

    When it comes to adults, spice consumption is relatively low risk; however, in children, it’s unsafe for them to consume. Historically infants have a safe track record of consuming Chinese star anise. However, there have been cases where Japanese star anise enters the mix by mistake. Side Effects to watch out for in your kids in case of too much Chinese star anise or accidental Japanese star anise consumption are

    1. Irritability
    2. Vomiting
    3. Seizures

    Star Anise Substitute

    Sometimes stores run out of products, or the store nearest you might not have specific items such as star anise. There’s no need to worry because there are other spices out there that can work great as a substitute. Fennel seeds are a near-perfect star anise replacement. The flavor is slightly different; therefore, the ratio is also different. For one whole star anise, use ¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds. Unfortunately, it won’t be the same, but it will be closer.

    You can also use the 5-spice mixture as a substitute for star anise. There will be more flavor overall as it is mixed with other spices. It could even be a fun project to make your own 5-spice mixture if you find that you enjoy the taste of star anise. The 5-spice mixture is composed of

    1. 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
    2. 5 to 6 whole-star anise
    3. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    4. 1 tablespoon ground Chinese cinnamon
    5. 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds

    Anise seeds are the closest substitute to use if you can’t find the spice. The difference between the seed and the star is that the latter is spicy in flavor while the former is milder. If you choose this route, you want ½ teaspoon of anise seeds for every real anise star.

    Where to Buy Star Anise

    You can buy star anise at almost any grocery store, supermarket, or online. At most locations, you can get star anise whole, ground, powder, or oil form. The best spot to look for it would be at an Asian market close to you as their more likely to have the most variety. It is also more likely to cost less and be more authentic.

    Once you’ve purchased the spice, the best way to store it is in an airtight container. Like many spices, over time, it will lose its potency. It should last longer if you place it in a glass container and tuck it away into a cool, dark, and dry spot. Just make sure you don’t forget where you put it.

    Zohna Tip

    It's best to buy star anise in small batches, replacing it every few months to ensure it's showing up to the dinner party as fresh as possible.

    Get your new favorite spice here on Amazon

    10/30/2023 11:56 pm GMT

    FAQ

    • What Does Star Anise Taste Like?

      Star anise taste similar to licorice. It has a sweet kick and can be compared to spices like fennel seeds and cloves.

    • Where Does Star Anise Come From?

      Star anise comes from a tree native to China called Illicium verum. Today, however, it’s grown in many other countries, such as Indochine and Japan.

    • Japanese Star Anise vs. Chinese?

      Think of the Japanese star anise as the evil twin. It contains toxic components that can lead to severe symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, and nausea. The two plants look exactly the same and sometimes get mistaken for one another. You must buy pure Chinese star anise to mediate the risks of running into her evil sister.

    • Is Star Anise Safe During Pregnancy?

      There isn’t a solid enough reservoir of information about whether it’s safe to take star anise while pregnant and or even to breastfeed. Therefore, it is always better to air on the side of caution. Considering it’s unsafe for infants, it’s most likely a good guess to assume it’s dangerous to consume while pregnant.

    Spice You Later

    Now that you know all about the incredible versatility of this tiny all-natural seed pod, it’s time to get crafty. Head to your local grocery store or Asian market to purchase some star anise and see how you can elevate yourself and your cooking. It could be a great way to challenge yourself to make dishes you never have. Perhaps you’ll love the taste or love the feel of it on your scalp. You’ll never know until you try. Love our nutrition-related content? Head over to this article and discover the benefits of sea moss!