Description: Natural Order, Umbelliferae. A native of Egypt and Western Asia; but now much cultivated in Spain and Southern Germany. Annual. Stem about one foot high, erect, smooth, slightly branched. Leaves very various, lower ones cordate and cuneate-lobed, middle ones pinnate-lobed, upper ones trifid. Umbels without involucres, long-stalked. Flowers small, white. Fruit about a line in length, compressed, oval, striate with five ridges, with a few scattered hairs of a peculiar greenish tint.
The seeds are fragrant, with a pleasant odor peculiar to themselves, and which is owing to the presence of a volatile oil. Warm water acts on them but moderately, but alcohol completely. They are mostly valued for their oil, which is obtained by distillation from the bruised fruit. It is transparent, colorless or sparingly yellow in tint, with the odor of anise seed strongly marked, of a sweetish warming taste, and possessing the unusual property of concreting into a lardacious-looking body at a temperature of 50° F. Spermaceti is sometimes used to adulterate this oil, in imitation of this concreting property; but pure oil is soluble in all proportions in cold absolute alcohol, while spermaceti is not, whence the adulteration may be detected readily.
ILLISIUM ANISATUM (star anise) is a shrub about eight feet high, of the Natural Order Magnoliaceae, native to China and Japan, from the seeds of which the greater portion of the anise oil of commerce is now obtained. "Leaves evergreen, obovate, obtuse, entire, smooth, dotted. Flowers solitary, stalked, sepals six, petaloid; petals numerous, yellow; stamens numerous. Fruit of eight or more carpels coherent by their inner edge, and arranged in a star-like manner; seeds one in each carpel, ovate, compressed, reddish brown." (Nees.) The distilled oil of this fruit can not be distinguished from that of the pimpinella, though it more commonly has a faint yellowish tint. Some consider it superior to the true anise.
Properties and Uses: The oil is one of the most pleasant and sweet of the aromatics, nearly a pure relaxant, and valued for its carminative and nervine influence in flatulent colic, both of children and adults. Few carminatives are so reliable; and it is equally excellent to prevent the griping of stimulating cathartics, and to cover the taste of bitter and nauseating medicines. The stomach receives it gratefully; and, if suitably diluted, it not unfrequently allays nausea and vomiting. One or two drops may be given on sugar; or, for children, it may be rubbed well with a small lump of sugar, and two tablespoonfuls of water added a little at a time, with trituration. This is a ready way of forming a sweet medicated water, which infants take readily. To relieve vomiting, some add it with sugar to camphor water.
The officinal essence is made by dissolving a fluid ounce of the oil in fifteen fluid ounces of seventy-five percent alcohol.
A drachm of the seeds may be made into a pint of infusion; but water acts on them so insufficiently that the oil is now generally preferred. It enters into preparations named under lobelia, valerian, and angelica.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com