ANISE, Pimpinella anisum
Anise is a sweet-smelling plant. The seeds taste and smell even sweeter. The plan has been around for thousands of years, so everyone knows how good anise is for digestion. In countries like India, some restaurants will have a drinking bowl like a punch bowl. It will have water with anise seeds and herbs in it. This smells great and is quite tasty. When you get finished with your meal, they bring this bowl around. You dip your cut in and get a cupful of this anise water. It is good for your digestion.
I have an herbalist friend who went to India to study herbs. To prepare himself, he read all about the country and its customs. One book told of a custom of the drinking bowl with anise seeds.
When he got to India, he stopped at a nice restaurant. Just inside the main door there was a large bowl that smelled nice. It had anise seeds in it. When he got seated, he took his cup and went back to the bowl, dipped in his cup and had a drink. Many people smiled, looked surprised or startled. He thought they were smiling because he was a foreigner. After he had eaten his meal, they brought the drinking bowl. So he took his cup and drank again. As he was leaving, he noticed a group of people come in the restaurant. They stopped at the first bowl and were rinsing their hands before they ate. It was only then he realized that he had drank the rinse water out of the wash bowl.
Anise first came from Egypt. It became a very important crop. It was used as a spice in cooking. Then it was use as a medicine and in perfume. The seed were sold and traded all over the known world. Anise became so valued that many countries used the seeds are money to pay taxes and tribute. Not bad for a little seed.
The Arabs started controlling the market on this herb and they called it anysum. Then the Greeks respelled it as anisum, its present name.
Anise is an annual plant in cooler areas. However in tropical areas it can be perennial or a biannual. It is mostly cultivated but can sometimes be found growing wild, as an escapee. Anise is umbelliferous (of the carrot family) and grows about 18 inches high. The leaves at the bottom are around cordate and long petiole, the middle leaves are pinnate and those at the top are incised into long narrow lobes. The small white flowers bloom in compound umbels in July and August. The fruit or seeds are ovate and grooved, and downy and brown in color and are about an eight inch long. The whole plant has a fragrant odor and the seeds taste sweet when chewed. The root is long and narrow like a carrot.
First anise is an aromatic, in other words it smells good and it tastes good. I usually make up a gallon of health tea that is heavy on calcium. To this I add different herbs for flavoring. One time I added anise. It tasted so good I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I gave samples to friends and they all love it. My only problem was that I forgot the formula.
Anise is used to flavor all kind off foods including soups, salads and jellies. The Romans used to put it in a feast cake because it helped to digest their food at feast times. It was later put into wedding cake to help digest the food and the calm the stomach after the wedding feast.
Anise is good for coughs and colds. It I put in cough drops and syrups and is excellent for a baby who has colic. As a carminative it is used for people who have a problem with stomach gas. It is also used in teas for nausea. Because it is so soothing it is sometimes used as an antispasmodic to soothe the nerves. It is used to stimulate mother’s milk. It is also a tonic to tone up the body and especially the digestive system and the nerves. Star anise is no relation but has