Medicinal benefits of anise plant

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Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), is an annual important spice and medicinal plant belonging to the family of Apiaceae, and native to Mediterranean region. Anise is belonging to the family of Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) which consists 300-455 genera and 3000-3750 species distributed in the northern hemisphere. Members of this family have alternate leaves, widening at the base into a sheath that clasps the stem. The stems of these family members are often furrowed. The compound flowers are determined in umbels. The rays of the main umbel produced a secondary umbel with the flower bearing pedicels. The flowers of this family have 5 petals and 5 stamens.

Today, anise seeds are an important natural raw material which is used for pharmaceutics, perfumery, food and cosmetic industries. Recently, this spice plant has drawn more consideration of consumers due to the antimicrobial, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidtaive effect of this herb on human health. The world production of anise essential oil amounts to 40-50 tons per annum. The most significant importing countries of anise oil are the USA and France. Russia, Spain and Poland are among the largest producers of anise oil. There is no distillation of anise oil and no production of trans-anethol in many of the countries which cultivate the crop.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum L.) is a slow growing annual herb which is cultivated throughout the world. For cultivating of anise plant a warm, sunny and dry autumn is ideal to meet economical yield and high quality of essential oil. The temperature during the growing duration should be quite uniform without very hot periods, particularly following precipitation. When the fruits are near maturity, alternate wet and dry conditions change it to brown color.

The main component a phenylpropanoid (comprising 80 to 90 per cent of the oil) and typical odor and flavor carrier of the fruit oil of P. anisum oil is trans-anethole (1-propenyl-4-methoxy benzene). Trans-anethole is of medicinal importance because of its carminative and expectorant effect. The isomeric methylchavicol (estragol) accounts for 4 per cent of the oil composition; it possesses an anise like smell but lacks the sweetish taste. Other substances found in anise oil are anisaldehyde, dianethole, anisketone, anisic acid, p-methoxy acetophenone, γ-himachalene and cis-anethole.

The drug as well as the essential oil is characterized by carminative, mild expectorant, diuretic, antiseptic as well as antispasmodic effects. Its fruits known as aniseed were used as traditional medicine in China as early as in the 5th century. In addition to its medicinal value, its fruits and oil have been used in food industry, such as cookie, candy, toothpaste, liquor and in some alcoholic drinks like pernot, pastis, and anisette for flavorings. Also it is added in American tobacco products because of its aromatic characteristics. Because of distinct aromatic characteristics of essential oil, anise fruits widely used as spice in food production such as bread and biscuits productions or production of alcoholic drinks. Anise fruits known also as aniseed contain 1.5 – 5.0 per cent essential oil with trans-anethole, a phenylpropanoid, as predominant component. In addition, the essential oil of the anise fruits contains also small quantity of estragol, anisaldehyde, γ-himachalene and cis-anethole. In European countries consumption of anise fruits is more than its production so the amount of imported anise fruits reached about 2000 t in 2004. Among other countries Germany remains the largest spice importer of anise. This stimulates the cultivation of anise in European countries including Germany.

Because of anise favors warm climatic conditions throughout the growing season it is cultivated particularly in subtropical regions. The quality of anise is determined mainly by the essential oil content and its composition. For both quality parameters it is necessary to determine the environmental factors under which they give higher yields and better quality. The yield may noticeably vary depending on ecological conditions such as temperature, precipitation and soil fertility.

The optimization of this factor can lead to a higher yield in the crop by favorably affecting the absorption of nutrients and exposure of the plant to the light.


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Published in: Volume 05 Issue 41

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