Skip to main content


Scientific Name(s): Pimpinella anisum L.
Common Name(s): Anise, Aniseed, Sweet cumin

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 15, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Clinical data are lacking to support the wide-ranging traditional uses for anise; limited studies have been conducted in disorders of the GI tract and in menopause. Studies in rodents suggest effects on the CNS. The oil has been used to treat lice, scabies, and psoriasis.


GI disorders: In limited clinical studies, anise 3 g powder taken after each meal (3 times per day) for 4 weeks has been studied for treatment of dyspepsia. Menopausal symptoms: Capsules containing P. anisum 330 mg taken 3 times daily for 4 weeks has been used for treatment of menopausal symptoms.


Anise is not recommended for use in pregnancy in amounts exceeding those found in food.


Aniseed is a reputed abortifacient. Use in amounts exceeding those found in food is not recommended in pregnancy.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Anise may cause allergic reactions of the skin, respiratory tract, and GI tract.


Ingestion of the oil may result in pulmonary edema, vomiting, and seizures.

Scientific Family

  • Apiaceae


Anise is an annual herb that grows 0.3 to 0.6 m in height and is widely cultivated throughout the world.Leung 1996 The flowers are yellow and grow in compound umbels. The leaves are feather-shaped. The 2 mm long, greenish-brown, ridged seeds are used in food or as an herb, and are harvested when ripe in autumn.Chevalier 1996 Aniseed has an anethole-like odor and a sweet, aromatic tasteBisset 1994 described as "licorice-like," which has led to the traditional use of anise oils in licorice candy. In some texts, anise is referred to as Anisum vulgare Gartner or Anisum officinarum Moench; it should not be confused with the "Chinese star anise" (Illicium verum Hook. filius.; family: Magnoliaceae).Leung 1996


Anise has historically been used as a spice and fragrance. It has been cultivated in Egypt for at least 4,000 years; records of its use as a diuretic and treatment for digestive problems and toothaches exist in medical texts from this era. Ancient Greek writings describe anise use to help with breathing, relieve pain, stimulate urination, and ease thirst.Chevalier 1996 The essential oil has been used commercially since the 1800s.

Anise is widely used as a flavoring in alcohols, liqueurs, dairy products, gelatins, puddings, meats, and candies.Leung 1996 Anise is often added to licorice candy or used as a licorice flavor substitute; it is also a fragrant component of anisette liqueur. It is sold as a spice, and the seeds are used as a breath freshener.Duke 2002 The essential oil is used medicinally as well as in perfume, soaps, and sachets.Chandler 1984, Leung 1996


A review of the constituents and properties of P. anisum has been published.Shojaii 2012

Examination of the mycoflora of anise seed resulted in the isolation of 15 fungal genera, 78 species, and 6 varieties, including Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Rhizopus.Moharram 1989 Naturally occurring mycotoxins were also present in thin-layer chromatography analysis of anise spice extract.El-Kady 1995 Gamma irradiation has inhibited mold growth on anise in humid conditions.Mahmoud 1992

Anise oil (1% to 4%) is obtained by steam distillation of the dried fruits of the herb. The highest-quality oils result from anise seeds of ripe umbels in the center of the plant.Tsvetkov 1970 A major component of the oil is trans-anethole (75% to 90%), which is responsible for the characteristic taste and smell, as well as the medicinal properties of anise.Bisset 1994, Chandler 1984, Tabacchi 1974 The cis-isomer is 15 to 38 times more toxic than the trans-isomer.Duke 2002 Spectrophotometric determination of anethole in anise oil has been performed.Mohamed 1976

The volatile oil also has related compounds that include estragole (methyl chavicol 1% to 2%), anise ketone (p-methoxyphenylacetone), and beta=caryophyllene. Present in smaller amounts are anisaldehyde, anisic acid, limonene, alpha-pinene, acetaldehyde, p-cresol, cresol, and myristicin (the psychomimetic compound previously isolated from nutmeg).Bisset 1994, Food Cosmet 1973, Harborne 1969, Newall 1996 Oil of Feronia limonia has some similarity to anise oil and may be used as a substitute.Shah 1985

Constituents of the whole seed include coumarins (eg, umbelliferone, umbelliprenine, bergapten, scopoletin). Lipids (16%) include fatty acids, beta-amyrin, and stigmasterol and its salts.Leung 1996, Newall 1996 Flavonoids in aniseed include rutin, isoorientin, and isovitexin.Newall 1996 Protein (18%) and carbohydrates (50%) are also present. Terpene hydrocarbons in the plant have also been described.Burkhardt 1986

Uses and Pharmacology

Antimicrobial/Insecticidal effects

Animal data

Anise has been evaluated for its antimicrobial action against gram-negative and gram-positive organisms.Narasimha 1970 The anethole constituent also inhibited growth of mycotoxin-producing Aspergillus in culture.Leung 1996 Anise is used in dentifrices as an antiseptic and in lozenges and cough preparations for its weak antibacterial effects.Duke 2002, Leung 1996 One report testing aromatic waters (including anise) on the growth and survival of Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been published.Ibrahim 1991

Larvicidal activity has been reported.Burgess 2010 Anise oil, when mixed with sassafras oil, is used as an insecticide.Chandler 1984 Applied externally, the oil has been used to treat lice and scabies.Chevalier 1996

Clinical data

A combination preparation of coconut and anise was reported to be superior to permethrin 0.43% in the treatment of head lice.Burgess 2010

CNS effects

Animal data

The pharmacological effects of anise are caused mainly by anethole, which has structural similarities to catecholamines (eg, epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine).Newall 1996 Sympathomimetic-type effects have been attributed to anethole in at least one report.Albert-Puleo 1980 A study in rodents failed to demonstrate anxiolytic activity for aqueous Pimpinella seed extract; however, some activity related to learning was reported.Gamberini 2015

Anise oil was reported to prolong the latency and reduce the amplitude and duration of induced seizures in rats.Karimzadeh 2012

Antidepressant activity has been reported for both aqueous and ethanolic extracts of P. anisum fruit in mice.Shahamat 2016 Increased analgesic effects of codeine and benzodiazepine on motor impairment have been observed in mice, and decreased antidepressant effects of imipramine and fluoxetine have also been observed with aniseed essential oil pretreatment.Samojlik 2012

GI effects

Anise is well known as a carminative and an expectorant. It is used to decrease bloating and to settle the digestive tract.Bisset 1994, Chevalier 1996

Clinical data

Limited clinical studies have evaluated anise powder in the management of dyspepsia. Quality-of-life scores were reported to be higher in the treatment group compared with placebo.Ghoshegir 2014, Ghoshegir 2015

Anise oil was compared with peppermint oil in a clinical trial of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. A decrease in scores for abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and other symptoms was reported.Mosaffa-Jahromi 2016 In another trial, the same researchers also reported improvements in depression with anise oil treatment in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.Mosaffa-Jahromi 2017

Iron deficiency anemia

Animal data

Anise has promoted iron absorption in rats, suggesting possible use as a preventative agent in iron deficiency anemia.el-Shobaki 1990

Menopausal effects

Clinical data

P. anisum has been evaluated in a trial of peri- and postmenopausal women, with positive findings reported for menopausal symptoms (ie, hot flashes).Ghazanfarpour 2016, Nahidi 2012

Morphine dependence

Animal data

A study of morphine-dependent mice demonstrated a reduction in severity of withdrawal symptoms with ethanolic extracts of anise.Sherzadi 2017

Nephroprotective effects

Animal data

P. anisum may have nephroprotective effects; an ethanolic extract given orally to Wistar rats decreased tubule damage from gentamycin, and an aqueous extract lessened markers of damage in rats treated with lead acetate.Amina 2016, Changizi-Ashtiyani 2017

Other uses

Topical application of the constituent bergapten, in combination with ultraviolet light, has been used in psoriasis treatment.Newall 1996

As a skin penetration enhancer, anise oil has little activity compared with eucalyptus and other oils,Williams 1989 and anise-based bioadhesive gels have been evaluated as a method of drug delivery.Gafiţanu 2016


GI disorders: In limited clinical studies, anise 3 g powder taken after each meal (3 times per day) for 4 weeks has been studied in the treatment of dyspepsia.Ghoshegir 2014

Menopausal symptoms: Capsules containing P. anisum 330 mg taken 3 times daily for 4 weeks have been used for treatment of menopausal symptoms (ie, hot flashes).Nahidi 2012

Pregnancy / Lactation

Anise is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used at levels found in food.FDA 2017 Aniseed is a reputed abortifacient. Use in amounts exceeding those found in food is not recommended in pregnancy.Chevalier 1996, Newall 1996

Aqueous and ethanolic extracts of P. anisum L. seeds have demonstrated galactagogue effects in rodents. The maximum nonfatal dose was reported to be 2.2 g/kg in rats.Hosseinzadeh 2014 Aniseed was one of the 4 most common herbs used by certified or licensed midwives for increasing lactation based on state-wide surveys in California, Texas, and North Carolina.Dennehy 2010


Case reports are lacking. Increased analgesic effects of codeine and benzodiazepine on motor impairment have been observed in mice, and decreased antidepressant effects of imipramine and fluoxetine have also been observed with aniseed essential oil pretreatment.Samojlik 2012 Similarly, a pharmacokinetic interaction with acetaminophen and caffeine has been reported in rodents.Samojlik 2016

Adverse Reactions

According to the Complete German Commission E Monographs, adverse effects of anise include occasional allergic reactions of the skin, respiratory tract, and GI tract.Bisset 1994 When applied to human skin in a 2% concentration in petrolatum base, anise oil produced no dermatological reactions. The oil is not considered to be a primary irritant. However, anethole has been associated with sensitization and skin irritation and may cause erythema, scaling, and vesiculation.Food Cosmet 1973 Anise oil in toothpaste has been reported to cause contact sensitivity, cheilitis, and stomatitis.Duke 2002 The constituent bergapten may cause photosensitivity.Newall 1996


Anise oil has GRAS status when used in typical amounts found in food. In rats, the acute oral median lethal dose (LD50) of the oil is 2.25 g/kg. No percutaneous absorption of the oil through mouse skin occurred within 2 hours.Meyer 1959 The oral LD50 of anethole is 2,090 mg/kg in rats; rats fed a diet containing anethole 0.25% for 1 year showed no adverse effects, while those receiving anethole 1% for 15 weeks had microscopic changes in hepatocytes.Duke 2002

The cis-isomer of anethole is 15 to 38 times more toxic to animals than the trans-isomer.Duke 2002, Leung 1996 Ingestion of the oil in doses as small as 1 mL may result in pulmonary edema, vomiting, and seizures.Spoerke 1980 The estrogenic activity of anethole and its dimers may alter hormone therapy (eg, oral contraceptives).Zabłocka-Słowińska 2014



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

More about anise

Related treatment guides

Albert-Puleo M. Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents. J Ethnopharmacol. 1980;2(4):337-344.6999244
Amina B, Nadia AH, Kahloulakhaled, Nesrine S, Abdelkader A. Nephroprotective effect of Pimpinella anisum L. aqueous extract against lead toxicity: in vivo study. Intl J Green Pharmacy. 2016;10(2):86-91.
Bisset N. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart, Germany: CRC Press; 1994:73-75.
Burgess IF, Brunton ER, Burgess NA. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. Eur J Pediatr. 2010;169(1):55-62.19343362
Burkhardt G, Reichling J, Martin R, Becker H. Terpene hydrocarbons in Pimpinella anisum L. Pharm Weekbl Sci. 1986;8(3):190-193.3737372
CFR-Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Food and Drug Administration website. Accessed June 29, 2017.
Chandler RF, Hawkes D. Aniseed: spice, flavor, drug. Can Pharm J. 1984;117:28-29.
Changizi-Ashtiyani S, Seddigh A, Najafi H, et al. Pimpinella anisum L. ethanolic extract ameliorates the gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in rats [published correction appears in Nephrology (Carlton). 2017;22(3):268]. Nephrology (Carlton). 2017;22(2):133-138.27860049
Chevalier A. TheEncyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1996:246-247.
Dennehy C, Tsourounis C, Bui L, King TL. The use of herbs by California midwives. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2010;39(6):684-693.21044150
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
El-Kady IA, El-Maraghy SS, Eman Mostafa M. Natural occurrence of mycotoxins in different spices in Egypt. Folia Microbiol (Praha). 1995;40(3):297-300.8919936
el-Shobaki FA, Saleh ZA, Saleh N. The effect of some beverage extracts on intestinal iron absorption. Z Ernahrungswiss. 1990;29(4):264-269.2080638
Food Cosmet Toxicol. 1973;11:865.
Gafiţanu CA, Filip D, Cernătescu C, et al. Formulation and evaluation of anise-based bioadhesive vaginal gels. Biomed Pharmacother. 2016;83:485-495.27434864
Gamberini MT, Rodrigues DS, Rodrigues D, Pontes VB. Effects of the aqueous extract of Pimpinella anisum L. seeds on exploratory activity and emotional behavior in rats using the open field and elevated plus maze tests. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;168:45-49.25839118
Ghazanfarpour M, Sadeghi R, Abdolahian S, Latifnejad Roudsari R. The efficacy of Iranian herbal medicines in alleviating hot flashes: A systematic review. Int J Reprod Biomed (Yazd). 2016;14(3):155-166.27294213
Ghoshegir SA, Mazaheri M, Ghannadi A, et al. Pimpinella anisum in modifying the quality of life in patients with functional dyspepsia: A double-blind randomized clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2014;19(12):1118-1123.25709650
Ghoshegir SA, Mazaheri M, Ghannadi A, et al. Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2015;20(1):13-21.25767516
Harborne JB, Heywood VH, Williams CA. Distribution of myristicin in seeds of the umbelliferae. Phytochemistry. 1969;8:1729.
Hosseinzadeh H, Tafaghodi M, Abedzadeh S, Taghiabadi E. Effect of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Pimpinella anisum L. seeds on milk production in rats. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2014;7(4):211-216.25151455
Ibrahim YK, Ogunmodede MS. Growth and survival of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in some aromatic waters. Pharm Acta Helv. 1991;66(9-10):286-288.1758905
Karimzadeh F, Hosseini M, Mangeng D, et al. Anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of Pimpinella anisum in rat brain. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:76.22709243
Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: J Wiley; 1996:36-38.
Mahmoud MI, El-Bazza ZE, Mohamed ZG. Afatoxin production at different relative humidities on gamma-irradiated herbs used as Egyptian drinks. Egypt J Pharm Sci. 1992;33:21-30.
Meyer F, Meyer E. Arzneimittelforschung. 1959;9:516.
Mohamed Y, Abdel-Salam NA, El-Sayed MA, Abdel-Salam MA. Spectrophotometric determination of certain volatile oils. Part 3. Assay of anethole in volatile oils of anise and fennel. Indian J Pharm. 1976;38:117-119.
Moharram AM, Abdel-Mallek AY, Abdel-Hafez AI. Mycoflora of anise and fennel seeds in Egypt. J Basic Microbiol. 1989;29(7):427-435.2600777
Mosaffa-Jahromi M, Lankarani KB, Pasalar M, Afsharypuor S, Tamaddon AM. Efficacy and safety of enteric coated capsules of anise oil to treat irritable bowel syndrome. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;194:937-946.27815079
Mosaffa-Jahromi M, Tamaddon AM, Afsharypuor S, et al. Effectiveness of anise oil for treatment of mild to moderate depression in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized active and placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(1):41-46.26873392
Nahidi F, Kariman N, Simbar M, Mojab F. The study on the effects of Pimpinella anisum on relief and recurrence of menopausal hot flashes. Iran J Pharm Res. 2012;11(4):1079-1085.24250540
Narasimha BG, Nigam SS. In vitro antimicrobial efficiency of some essential oils. Flavor Ind. 1970;1:725-729.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JP. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:30-31.
Samojlik I, Mijatović V, Petković S, Skrbić B, Božin B. The influence of essential oil of aniseed (Pimpinella anisum, L.) on drug effects on the central nervous system. Fitoterapia. 2012;83(8):1466-1473.22926042
Samojlik I, Petković S, Stilinović N, Vukmirović S, Mijatović V, Božin B. Pharmacokinetic herb-drug interaction between essential oil of aniseed (Pimpinella anisum L., Apiaceae) and acetaminophen and caffeine: a potential risk for clinical practice. Phytother Res. 2016;30(2):253-259.26619825
Shah N, Agrawal SK, Ahmed A, Nigam MC. Essential oil of Feronia limonia: substitute for anise and fennel oils. Parfum Kosmetic. 1985;66:182-183.
Shahamat Z, Abbasi-Maleki S, Mohammadi Motamed S. Evaluation of antidepressant-like effects of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Pimpinella anisum fruit in mice. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2016;6(3):322-328.27462555
Sherzadi GD, Abbasi-Maleki S, Zanbouri A. Ethanolic extract of anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) attenuates morphine physical dependence in mice. J Herbmed Pharmacol. 2017;6(2):69-73.
Shojaii A, Abdollahi Fard M. Review of pharmacological properties and chemical constituents of Pimpinella anisum. ISRN Pharm. 2012;2012:510795.22848853
Spoerke DG. Herbal Medications. Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press; 1980.
Tabacchi R, et al. Helv Chim Acta. 1974;57:849.
Tsvetkov R. Study on the fruit quality of some umbelliferous essential oil plants. Planta Med. 1970;18:350-353.
Williams A, Barry BW. Essential oils as novel human skin penetration enhancers. Int J Pharm. 1989;57:R7-R9.
Zabłocka-Słowińska K, Jawna K, Grajeta H, Biernat J. Interactions between preparations containing female sex hormones and dietary supplements. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2014;23(4):657-663.25166453

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.