The task of anise essential oil (Pimpinella anisum) is "to make the conscious mind aware, even if protesting, that there is a conductor of the universe, and we are all part of the orchestration," writes aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul.
She also states the emotional benefits of anise are to encourage upliftment, stimulation, fearlessness, harmony, and balance and to dispel timidity.
The essential oil of anise is also known as anise seed or aniseed. Another essential oil called star anise (Illicium verum) is made from a different plant. Even though the two oils are from different plants, they have a similar scent and some of the same properties. This profile covers both oils.
Aniseed plant family: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae
Star anise plant family: Schisandraceae/Illiciaceae
Aniseed production: Steam distilled from the seeds of the plant, which is an annual grassy herb.
Star anise production: Steam distilled from the dried fruit/seeds of the plant, which is an evergreen tree.
Aniseed aroma: Licorice-like, rich, sweet
Star anise aroma: Sharp and licorice-like
Perfume/Aromatic note: Top to middle
Is anise safe to use during pregnancy? No, and do not use while breastfeeding. (Applies to both aniseed and star anise.)
Is anise essential oil safe for children? Do not use either aniseed or star anise on children under age 5, according to Essential Oil Safety.
Cautions: Essential Oil Safety recommends not using aniseed or star anise if you have/had an estrogen-dependent cancer or have endometriosis. Advanced Aromatherapy states not to use anise if you have a tumor. These cautions arise because both oils contain anethole, which may have an estrogen-like effect.
Anise may cause skin irritation, especially if the oil becomes oxidized from exposure to heat, light, and air.
anisyl alcohol 0-3.5%
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: Anise may help relieve indigestion, coughing, muscle spasms, and menstrual cramps. The scent is both stimulating and calming, improving emotional balance. Avoid the oil if you have problems related to too much estrogen.
Aromatherapy for Dummies: The scent of anise may repel flies and may act as an aphrodisiac.
Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy: Anise calms the nervous system, minimizes overexcitement, and has stabilizing effects after a hangover. The oil may also help bring on missing menstrual periods.
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Star anise oil may help relieve muscle aches and pains, coughs, colds, flatulence, and indigestion.
You can diffuse anise in an aromatherapy diffuser or make a massage oil by adding 3 to 5 drops of the essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil.
Here are two other suggested uses from Top 10 Culinary Essential Oils from the American College of Healthcare Sciences: