Other Name(s):

Anis, Anís, Anis Vert, Aniseed, Anise Essential Oil, Anisi Fructus, Graine d'Anis Vert, Huile Essentielle d'Anis, Phytoestrogen, Phyto-Œstrogène, Pimpinella anisum, Pinella, Semen Anisi, Shatpushpa, Sweet Cumin, Velaiti Saunf.


Anise is an herb. The seed (fruit) and oil, and less frequently the root and leaf, are used to make medicine.

Anise is used for upset stomach, intestinal gas, “runny nose,” and as an expectorant to increase productive cough, as a diuretic to increase urine flow, and as an appetite stimulant. Women use anise to increase milk flow when nursing, start menstruation, treat menstrual discomfort or pain, ease childbirth, and increase sex drive. Men use anise to treat symptoms of “male menopause.” Other uses include treatment of seizures, nicotine dependence, trouble sleeping (insomnia), asthma, and constipation.

Some people apply anise directly to the skin to treat lice, scabies, and psoriasis.

In foods, anise is used as a flavoring agent. It has a sweet, aromatic taste that resembles the taste of black licorice. It is commonly used in alcohols and liqueurs, such as anisette and ouzo. Anise is also used in dairy products, gelatins, meats, candies, and breath fresheners.

In manufacturing, anise is often used as a fragrance in soap, creams, perfumes, and sachets.

How does it work?

There are chemicals in anise that may have estrogen-like effects. Chemicals in anise may also act as insecticides.

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Menstrual discomfort. Some clinical research shows that taking a specific product containing anise, saffron, and celery seed (SCA, Gol Daro Herbal Medicine Laboratory) reduces pain severity and duration during the menstrual cycle.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Early research suggests that drinking one cup of a tea containing anise, German chamomile, saffron, fennel, caraway, licorice, cardamom, and black seed reduces coughing and sleep discomfort in people with allergic asthma.
  • Constipation. Early research suggests that drinking an herbal tea containing anise, fennel, elderberry, and senna improves constipation in some people.
  • Lice. Early research suggests that applying a spray containing anise oil, coconut oil, and ylang ylang oil to the scalp helps get rid of head lice. The effect of the anise oil combination spray appears to be comparable to a spray containing the chemicals permethrin, malathion, piperonyl, butoxide, and isododecane.
  • Starting menstrual periods.
  • Increasing breast milk.
  • Increasing sex drive.
  • Scabies.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Coughs.
  • Spasms.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of anise for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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Side Effects

Anise is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth in amounts typically found in foods. There isn't enough information available to know if anise is safe to take by mouth in medicinal amounts.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Anise is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when used as part of a normal diet. It's not known whether it's safe to use anise in larger medicinal amounts during pregnancy or when breast-feeding. Stick to food amounts.

Children: Anise is LIKELY SAFE for most children when taken by mouth in amounts typically found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the scalp in combination with other herbs, short-term. There isn't enough information available to know if anise is safe to take by mouth in medicinal amounts.

Allergies: Anise might cause allergic reactions in some people who are allergic to other plants that are similar to anise. Plants that are similar to anise include asparagus, caraway, celery, coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Anise might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use anise.


Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Anise might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But anise isn't as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking anise along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with anise, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.

Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

EstrogensInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Large amounts of anise might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But large amounts of anise aren't as strong as estrogen pills. Taking anise along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Anise seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, anise might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take anise if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For menstrual discomfort: 500 mg of a specific combination product containing saffron, celery seed, and anise extracts (SCA, Gol Daro Herbal Medicine Laboratory) taken three times a day for the first three days of menstruation.


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Picon, P. D., Picon, R. V., Costa, A. F., Sander, G. B., Amaral, K. M., Aboy, A. L., and Henriques, A. T. Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation. BMC.Complement Altern.Med. 2010;10:17. View abstract.

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