Last update Dec. 2, 2020
The fruit of the tree is used. It contains essential oil (rich in trans-anethole - 85% -, anisatin and estragole), flavonoids and tannins (de Groot 2016, Mathon 2013, Alós 2006). Ascribed properties: antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, estrogen agonist.
Indications from the German Ministry of Health’s Commission E: anorexia, cough, bronchitis (Blumenthal 1998 p215).
Anethole is neurotoxic (Mathon 2013, Alós 2006, Ize 2004) and is eliminated in breastmilk (Hausner 2008).
Two infants under one month of age became seriously intoxicated (lethargy) after their mothers drank an average of two litres per day of a mixed infusion of licorice, fennel, anise and galega. The effect was attributed to anethole from anise and fennel (Rosti 1994).
There is a high risk of accidental poisoning with Illicium religiosum (Illicium anisatum, Japanese star anise) which is inedible and very toxic (Techen 2009, Alós 2006, Ize 2004, Minodier 2003, Vandenberghe 2003) and has been withdrawn from sale in Spain (MSC 2004) and carries warnings in other countries (FDA 2003, n.a.l. 2003).
Many infants have had severe poisoning with seizures after direct administration (not through breastmilk) of infusions of star anise, contaminated or not with Japanese star anise (Casanova 2019, Obando 2016, Madden 2013, Perret 2011, de la Rubia 2009, Alós 2006, Ize 2004, Minodier 2003, Johanns 2002, Gil 2002), which is why in Spain the sale of star anise was temporarily withdrawn in 2001 (Europa Press 2001, Gil 2002).
Occasional or moderate consumption of star anise by the mother may be compatible during breastfeeding, but not administered directly to the infant.
Precautions when taking plant preparations:
1. Ensure that they are from reliable source: poisoning has occurred due to confusion of one plant with another with toxic properties, poisonings from heavy metals that are extracted from the soil and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi (Anderson 2017).
2. Do not take too much; follow recommendations from experienced phytotherapy professionals. "Natural" products are not good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which a large part of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can cause intoxication or act as endocrine disruptors (they contain phytoestrogens: Powers 2015, Zava 1998) if they are taken in exaggerated quantities or over extended time periods.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.
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