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IBS Supplements > Herbs as Medicine > Anise

Anise

Anise, which is botanically related to fennel, is an ancient spice indigenous to the Mediterranean. It was cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and noted in the works of Dioscorides and Pliny. Anise has been grown in Italy continually since Roman times for use as a digestive aid. Anise was introduced to central Europe in the Middle Ages and by the 14th century was so popular in medieval England that King Edward I placed a special tax on the spice to raise money to repair London Bridge.

Anise seeds have a very sweet, pronounced licorice taste and contain a volatile oil, anethol, that aids in the digestion of rich foods and settles the stomach. Anise stimulates gastric juice production, relieves nausea, and is helpful for colic. It regulates digestion, making it useful for both constipation and diarrhea.

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Anise is also helpful for belching, gas, bloating, vomiting, chronic diarrhea, gastrointestinal cramps, and sluggish digestion. It's a mild sedative and is useful for calming stress-related nervousness and relieving insomnia. Anise has anti-spasmodic and anti-fungal properties, and helps prevent fermentation and gas in the stomach and bowels.

Anise is available as small, black, dried seeds from spice shops or the bulk section of health food stores, and can be easily brewed into tea. Lightly crushing the seeds before brewing them with hot water will increase their strength. Whole anise seeds can also be chewed.

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