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Guide To Anise Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses

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.

A Guide To Anise Essential Oil and Its Benefits and Uses in Aromatherapy

Basic Anise Facts

The essential oil of anise is also known as anise seed or aniseed. Another essential oil called star anise (Illicium verum) comes 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 oils.)

Is anise essential oil safe for children? Do not use either oil with 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.

Main components:


  • (e)-anethole     75.2–96.1%
  • (+)-limonene    trace–4.9%
  • estragole          0.3–4.0%
  • anisyl alcohol    0–3.5%

Star Anise

  • (e)-anethole  71.2–91.8%
  • foeniculin      0.5–14.5%
  • estragole       0.3–6.6%
  • (+)-limonene 0.7–5.0%

Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition

Anise Aromatherapy Benefits

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.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Aniseed may help relieve coughs, excessive mucous, flatulence, intestinal spasm, indigestion, digestion-related migraines and headaches, and nervous digestive tract conditions.

The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): Both anise oils may help relieve muscle aches and pains, coughs, colds, flatulence, indigestion, and digestive cramps.

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.

Essential Oils Desk Reference: The fragrance "opens emotional blocks and recharges vital energy."

Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume 2: Indications for aniseed essential oil include indigestion with flatulence, appetite loss, nausea, spasmodic coughs, or amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).

The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Third Edition, Vol. 1: Traditional Chinese Medicine considers aniseed warming and drying. The oil has a strong affinity with the Earth element and can eliminate damp and help disperse cold phlegm.

Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Anise clears and cleanses the subtle bodies to allow the easy movement of energy. Especially useful for the sixth and seventh chakras to promote intuition and clear away old thought forms so you can receive spiritual information.

The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing
: Anise helps prevent bad dreams. Put a few drops on a tissue, place it under your pillow, and set the intention to have good dreams. The oil also promotes mental clarity and active listening skills.

Essential Oils Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice: In ayurvedic aromatherapy, anise is pungent and bitter. It controls Vata and Kapha and increases Pitta.

Anise Essential Oil Uses and Blends

You can diffuse anise essential oil using an aromatherapy diffuser or make a massage oil by adding 3 to 5 drops of the essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil.

For a pick-me-up diffuser blend:

  • 3 drops star anise essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil

You can add this same blend to two teaspoons of carrier oil and massage on your abdomen to help calm digestive upset or a queasy stomach. Source: Plant Therapy

Suggested uses from The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness:

  • For respiratory complaints that include mucous, use an inhalation or massage blend with 0.5% star anise essential oil.
  • To ease flatulence or the pain of indigestion, use a hot compress made with 3 drops star anise.

Suggested uses from Top 10 Culinary Essential Oils from the American College of Healthcare Sciences:

  • Make your own tooth powder using anise, peppermint, and baking soda.
  • Blend anise and peppermint for an insect repellent.

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Photo Credit: Aniseed [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons and Star Anise By H. Zell [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons