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27 January 2022 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Star Anise Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Star anise can successfully protect us from a wide range of different infections.

Star Anise spice on wooden spoons

An ancient Chinese remedy, star anise is incredibly effective at protecting our bodies from infection.

Often confused with aniseed or anise, star anise is actually a different oil altogether with different properties, although the two are similar in scent.

Star anise oil has had many uses, but these days it is mostly used to combat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Its ability to comprehensively protect our health makes it incredibly popular in many medical systems – including modern western medicine.

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What is Star Anise Essential Oil?

A member of the Illiciaceae family, star anise oil is extracted via steam distillation from the dried, ripe fruit of the evergreen tree, native to Southeast Asia. Each fruit contains five to thirteen little seed pockets attached in the shape of a star. This fixture is what gives the spice its name.

Almost clear in colour, star anise is commonly confused with aniseed as both contain similar names and similar divisive, liquorice-like aromas – though star anise is considered the sweeter of the two. These oils are also sometimes confused with for the same reason.

What are the benefits of Star Anise Essential Oil?

Star anise and its commonly confused counterparts all contain similar versions of the same benefits, with minor differences in potency.

Some of the best-researched benefits of star anise essential oil include:

  • Protection against cold and flu viruses
  • Antifungal properties
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Stress-relieving abilities
  • Pain relief

Star Anise Spice

Is star anise oil good for the flu?

The cooler months of the year can bring about some stubborn illnesses – which may explain why warm, expectorant oils are at their prime both in cooking and aromatherapy at this time.

One of the main agents used for protection against and treatment of the influenza virus is a chemical component called shikimic acid.

Star anise has a very high level of shikimic acid content and a showed that the fruit is actually the primary source of shikimic acid in pharmaceuticals.

This high content of shikimic acid makes it an incredibly useful tool against the flu and suggests that shikimic acid can be used in homes to help protect households from infection.

Preliminary research also shows that star anise may be useful in combatting other viral infections. A even found that star anise showed antiviral activity against a strain of the herpes virus.

Research into star anise’s other antiviral applications is still ongoing, but there is a good chance that the oil could help in combatting a number of common viruses.

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Does star anise essential oil have antifungal properties?

Star anise contains a significant amount of a component called anethole – which can also be found in aniseed and is responsible for the oil’s distinct scent.

The anethole component has strong antifungal properties and can be instrumental in protecting us from fungal infections. In fact, a found that anethole may help star anise inhibit the growth of infectious fungi in humans.

Prior research also pointed to the compound’s ability to inhibit growth of pathological fungi in a number of edible crops.

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Can star anise combat bacterial infections?

On top of its antiviral and antifungal properties, star anise is also antibacterial and can prevent harmful strains from attacking the body.

A showed that star anise could effectively reduce the growth of E.coli, while further pointed to the oil’s abilities in treating urinary tract infections.

This suggests that star anise’s antibacterial abilities are extremely powerful and can be utilised across a number of pharmaceuticals.

Even more impressively, a suggested that star anise could be effective against drug-resistant bacteria. Bacteria growing resistant to antibiotics is a mounting concern in the medical community. Natural remedies could provide the answer where antibiotics fail.

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Using star anise oil to relieve stress

Star anise essential oil is considered a natural sedative, meaning it can slow our brain activity, calm our minds, and relieve our stress when inhaled.

Sedatives can make for a useful aid against symptoms of anxiety, so using star anise as a natural alternative could be a viable option.

The calming properties of star anise oil may be attributed to the presence of the component nerolidol, which is a known sedative.

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Star anise essential oil for digestion and pain

Some sources claim that star anise may also function as an anti-inflammatory and can effectively stimulate blood circulation to alleviate pain in certain regions of the body.

Using star anise oil to help treat muscular or joint pain could be an effective natural alternative to common pain killers.

While essential oils should never be taken internally, topical application of star anise combined with a carrier oil can be a useful remedy against digestive issues and their related pains.

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How to use Star Anise Essential Oil

Aromatherapy

Like the sweet and faintly spicy scent of liquorice? Then star anise is a fantastic choice for diffusing around your home – particularly during the winter months.

This inviting scent is incredibly useful for protection against respiratory illnesses, as well as any airborne bacteria.

If you’re struggling to switch your mind off and settle into sleep, the sedative qualities of star anise may also be a good choice for diffusing around your bedroom.

Bath

If you don’t have a diffuser to hand, or if you simply prefer enjoying your essential oils in conjunction with another relaxing activity, then sprinkling some star anise into your bath may be the ideal choice for you.

Using star anise in the bath is a great way to experience the oil’s sedative abilities - particularly if you are bathing before bed – and can also help soothe sore muscles or joints.

Massage

Combine star anise with a carrier oil for a restorative at-home massage with good anti-inflammatory benefits.

The stimulating properties of star anise can help to relieve pain caused by digestive issues and inflammation by increasing blood flow in the body – so performing a massage on yourself or a loved one can help push these benefits even further.

Remember to always perform a patch test before applying essential oils on the skin and be sure to dilute with a carrier oil before use.

Cleaning

As star anise is an antibacterial, it can be used to help clean or top-up surfaces to prevent harmful strains of bacteria.

Combine a few drops of star anise oil with water and an emulsifier (like dish soap) in a spray bottle and use at will.

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History of Star Anise Essential Oil

Star anise has been used in Chinese medicine for around three thousand years, with its use becoming global in the seventeenth century after English sailor Sir Thomas Cavendish brought the spice back to England.

The spice then began being traded along the tea route from China to Russia and Germany.

Star Anise Illustration

    Whether or not you enjoy the divisive aniseed scent of star anise, it can’t be denied that the seeds of this starry fruit yield an incredibly beneficial oil.

    Using star anise in cleaning products or diffusing the oil in cold and flu season can help to protect the health and happiness of your household.

    Shop our star anise essential oil here. 

    Product Name

    100% Pure Star Anise Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Illicium Verum
    Scent Type Spices
    Benefits & Uses Antiviral, Antibacterial, Relaxing
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this star anise essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this star anise essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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