Star Anise [चक्रफूल]: Uses, Health Benefits and more…

Star Anise Fruit

Star anise (चक्रफूल) is dried flowery pericarp of the fruit-part of the plant. It is native to the southwestern china and northeast Vietnam.  It requires a warm climate, well drained soil and takes around 6 years to start fruiting . It was later grown in few parts in Himachal due to conducive soil.

It is an ingredient of the Chinese 5 spice and introduced in using in teas, decorations, confectioneries, curries, soups etc. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used to treat female reproductive problems and also increasing lactation after childbirth. Hence came to be known also as Chinese star anise.

It is used in India as spice powder mixture called garam masala, used to prepare most of Indian culinary especially Biryani. It enhances the taste of the meat and rice.

 

Is Star Anise and Anise same?

Star anise are unrelated to Anise seeds, and they are produce of different plants of different species. Although, it coherently has a common composition of antheole compound, also with other spices like anise, fennel, mint, spearmint etc. A palatable difference in both ‘anises’ is that star anise has a bitter aftertaste unlike anise seeds. Chemically, both are distinguished with a compound present in star anise and not anise seeds.

Nutrition:
A single star anise could provide 13% of daily iron requirement. Around 100 grams give 31 mg of vitamin C, 646 mg of calcium and 404 mg of Phosphorus. This spice also provides certain essential complexes(below) and also the star anise sugary flavor.

 

Star anise tea

A decoction can be prepared by adding 2 Star anise in boiling water for 15 minutes. You can either pound the herb-spice, ground it into fine powder or use whole, as per your choice. Letting it settle for complete infusion and straining it for later.

 

Essential Compounds and uses:

It contains 5 -7% essential oil and most 85 -90% is antheole. Antheole, photoantheole, mimic the female estrogen and promotes menstruation and also helps in lactation. Hence it traditionally used in Chinese herbs.properties too.

It is mainly a carminative and also used as an expectorant. Quercetin, phenyldrene, saffrole, linalool are all the medicinal compounds present in them.

Protect against influenza A and B

 

Protection against viral flu:

Star anise extract of shikimic acid was used in the treatment of influenza A and influenza B virus., the H1N1 virus (swine flu).This acid is found only in certain microbes and is expensive to extract from them. Since, Star anise is an evergreen tree (producing buds throughout the year), it became easily accessible in the treatment for industrially economy, medical epidemics or during wars. Shikimic acid alongside plant antioxidant quercetin helps protects from viral infections by increasing immunity. It helps boost immunity by decreasing free radical mechanism in influenza patients.

 

Anti-oxidants:

Star anise is a good source of two antioxidants: the essential oil linalool and vitamin C that helps protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals and environmental toxins. Hence star anise, have shown to protect from free radical mechanism and protect from cancer. It also has anti- inflammatory properties.

 

Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal:

Bacteria have a method to communicate with each other by secreting virulent factors. They also stick to each other on a surface/film, which enhances their growth than other like bacteria called a ‘biofilm’. Star anise blocks them by acting as an ‘Anti-biofilm’ agent and reduces bacterial communication. It has observed to protect mouth as well as gut from  Candida albicans fungus, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella to an extent and also E.Coli and pseudomonas species. Hence it is a strong anti-fungal and bacterial.

Image result for flatulenceReduces bloating and flatulences:

It also eases thirst and is a mild sedative and relaxes the gut movement, by reducing nerve tension. This combined property with the above characteristic improves gut movement and bloating and flatulence in the body.

It is also used to treat rheumatism and joint pains.

Star anise could be allergic causing skin irritation and GI irritation and sometimes also toxic in adults and babies. However, the skimitoxic is only found in the Japanese star anise and is prohibited for human consumption by US FDA.

 

A Nutrition and Food Science grad, Poorvi is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in the same. She believes that a way to a better health both is through one’s stomach 🙂
She is on a quest to find out the innate wisdom of Intuitive Eating and also propagates it. She strongly believes, health is a holistic concept than just changes made in a Diet plan. Although she is not into cooking, she enjoys developing recipes and enjoys experimenting. But, mostly likes to be fed 😛

Poorvi Anandan, Nutritionist

Poorvi Anandan, Nutritionist

A Nutrition and Food Science grad, Poorvi is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in the same. She believes that a way to a better health both is through one's stomach :) She is on a quest to find out the innate wisdom of Intuitive Eating and also propagates it. She strongly believes, health is a holistic concept than just changes made in a Diet plan. Although she is not into cooking, she enjoys developing recipes and enjoys experimenting. But, mostly likes to be fed :P

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