Anise: Uses, Side Effects, & More

This herb may ease menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms

Anise oil, extract, and spices

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Anise is an annual herb of the parsley family. Its scientific name is Pimpinella anisum (P. anisum). Anise is native to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean region. However, it also grows in other parts of the world, such as areas in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Anise has the following compounds that are likely responsible for how it works:

  • Acetophenone
  • Anethole
  • Anise alcohol
  • Estragole
  • Limonene
  • P-anisaldehyde
  • Pinene

This article discusses what you should know about anise—its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP),, or NSF International.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talking to a healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and asking about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is important.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients (s): Acetophenone, anethole, anise alcohol, estragole, limonene, p-anisaldehyde, pinene
  • Alternative name(s): Anise, Pimpinella anisum, P. anisum, aniseed (the fruits of P. anisum)
  • Legal status: Over-the-counter supplement in the United States; substance added to food
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on the specific dosage form and medical condition
  • Safety considerations: Used in children, pregnant people, and breastfeeding parents, although more information is still needed to assess its safety better

Uses of Anise

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Like many natural products, more extensive research is necessary. But people might use anise for various reasons.


Results from a 2022 review suggest people with type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar due to a problem in the way the body regulates and uses sugar for use as energy) might benefit from 5 grams (g) of aniseed powder per day for 60 days.

The potential effects were lower fasting (before-meal) blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Since this study was small, its finding would need backing up by further, extensive research with a larger group of people to evaluate the effects of anise on diabetes.


Results in a review suggested people with functional dyspepsia might benefit from 3 g of anise powder three times daily with food for four weeks. Functional dyspepsia is a medical condition with symptoms of indigestion (upper abdominal pain or discomfort) for at least 12 weeks that started within the last six months.

While the results look promising, additional research with larger groups of participants is still necessary to better understand how anise works.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Studies suggested people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might benefit from anise oil. In these clinical trials, a group of study participants took anise oil as an enteric-coated (EC) capsule called AnisEncap.

The dosage was 600 milligrams (mg) (three capsules of 200 mg each) before a meal every day for four weeks.

The group that took AnisEncap reported fewer of the following symptoms when compared to the group taking a placebo (an intentionally ineffective drug given to people in a control group):

The AnisEncap group also had symptom relief from depression and severe constipation.

What's more, this group reported experiencing a better quality of life.

Although results were promising, higher-quality and larger clinical trials are still necessary to better assess the effects of anise and understand how it works.


Results from a small six-week study suggested that people with migraines might benefit from an aniseed oil cream, which they applied to the forehead and temporal areas (behind the ears).

The aniseed oil cream group of study participants experienced migraine attacks less often than the group not using the cream. And if they did have an attack, it didn't last as long. However, the cream didn't seem to affect the severity of the migraine attack.

While this trial is promising, additional research with larger clinical trials is still necessary.

Nasal Allergies

A small clinical trial compared anise to fluticasone nasal spray for nasal (nose) allergies.

The anise group of participants applied nasal drops containing 200 micrograms (mcg) of a water extract of aniseed in almond oil into each nostril every 12 hours for four weeks.

Results from this study suggest that anise might be better at relieving nasal allergy symptoms than fluticasone nasal sprays, which includes the brands Flonase and Flovent.

Larger clinical trials with extensive research are still necessary to evaluate these effects.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Results from a small study suggested an alcohol extract of aniseed powder might relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms better than a placebo. In this clinical trial, the dosage was 330 mg per day.

Since many clinical trials tend to study anise in combination with other plant materials, additional research is necessary to better evaluate anise's effects by itself.

Hot Flashes

Another small clinical trial also studied the potential use of an alcohol extract of aniseed powder for relieving certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.

In this study, a group of participants took 990 mg of the extract daily for four weeks. The extract seemed to decrease the severity of the hot flashes, as well as their frequency.

However, larger clinical trials need to be performed extensively compare anise to typical hormonal therapies and their effects on various hormone levels.

What Are the Side Effects of Anise?

 As with many medications and natural products, side effects are possible with anise.

Common Side Effects

There is little information about anise's common side effects. However, the FDA placed anise on its Substances Added to Food list.

Severe Side Effects

Anise is generally recognized as safe with typical amounts in food. One study reported no severe side effects with enteric-coated (EC) anise oil capsules (AnisEncap).

However, a severe allergic reaction is a serious side effect possible with any medication, including plant-based medicines. If you're having a severe allergic reaction to anise, symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash.

Call 911 and get medical help immediately if you're having a severe allergic reaction or any of your symptoms feel life-threatening.


A healthcare provider may advise against using anise if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: If you have or have had a severe allergic reaction to anise or its components (ingredients or parts), you shouldn't take this medication.

Pregnancy: Historically, anise was considered safe and traditionally used during pregnancy. But essential oil constituents (components or parts) might reach the unborn fetus and have harmful effects. Aniseed oil and alcohol extracts of aniseed should be avoided. Aqueous (water-based) extracts of aniseed are preferred during pregnancy. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks before using anise during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: As with pregnancy, the use of anise was historically considered safe in breastfeeding parents and a way to increase milk supply. However, there aren't any solid and high-quality clinical trials to support this use or effect. Little is known about the safety of anise in nursing babies. Anise is present in breast milk but in smaller amounts than what breastfeeding parents take. A small study showed no side effects in nursing infants.

However, reports of toxicity in nursing babies exist from breastfeeding parents who drank too much tea containing anise and other herbs. Anise may also change how the breast milk might smell. Some breastfeeding parents also experienced abnormal liver labs.

Consult with a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and harms before using anise—particularly aniseed oil and alcohol extracts of aniseed. While the possible exception is water-based extracts of aniseed, most anise product labels don't likely target breastfeeding parents.

Children: A small clinical trial showed no negative effects in nursing babies when breastfeeding parents used anise. But there's a possibility of toxicity in these children if the breastfeeding parents drink too much tea containing anise and other herbs.

What's more, many anise products likely target adults—not children. If you are considering anise for your child, talk with their healthcare provider.

Older adults over 65 years old: Older adults participated in anise-related clinical trials, but these studies were small. Some older adults tend to have a higher likelihood of medication side effects. For this reason, use anise with caution.

Diabetes: Anise may affect your blood sugar. A healthcare provider may want to closely monitor your blood sugar levels—especially if you take medications for diabetes.

Breast cancer: Endocrine (hormone) therapy is typically used after surgery for certain types of breast cancer. This is to prevent these types of breast cancers from coming back. Since anise might have some estrogen-like effects and may interfere with endocrine therapy, the healthcare provider might want to avoid it.

Dosage: How Much Anise Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some studies on anise in humans, high-quality clinical trials are still necessary. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take for any condition.

Follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or label instructions if you take anise.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Anise?

At typical amounts in food, anise is generally considered safe.

However, with excessive amounts, possible symptoms of toxicity with anise may include:

Some anise products might also be contaminated with fake star anises, which may result in the following serious side effects:

If you suspect you're experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.


In general, there is limited information about possible medication interactions with anise. However, most data is based on in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (animal) studies.

Use caution when taking anise with the following:

CYP2C9 substrate medications: CYP2C9 is a liver protein typically responsible for breaking down and clearing out certain medications. Some examples of CYP2C9 substrates may include a blood pressure medication called Cozaar (losartan), a blood thinner called Jantoven (warfarin), and an anti-seizure medication called Dilantin (phenytoin).

Anise may promote the CYP2C9 protein to work faster and quickly break down these medications, lowering their effectiveness. So, if you take anise with these medications, a healthcare provider may want to closely monitor you and make any necessary adjustments to your medications.

Sleep-inducing medications: Various medications may make you sleepy. Some examples are codeine to help relieve pain and Valium (diazepam) to help relieve anxiety or muscle spasms. Anise may increase this side effect, making you excessively drowsy and sleepy.

Hormone therapy: Anise may have some estrogen-like activity. For this reason, anise may interact with endocrine (hormone) therapy for certain types of breast cancer, menopausal hormone therapy, and hormonal birth control.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to learn which ingredients are present and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with a healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Anise

Since storage instructions may vary for different natural products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container.

Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the sight and reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Store in a cool and dry place, and discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging.

Avoid putting unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider any questions about how to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Anise may have potential uses for high blood sugar, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines, allergies, menstrual period symptoms, and menopause.

Other potentially similar supplements may include:

  • Black cohosh: A potential use of black cohosh is for menopause. However, based on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), black cohosh's effectiveness results are mixed.
  • Butterbur: According to the NCCIH, butterbur may decrease the number of times you have a migraine. It may also relieve allergy symptoms. But it's no longer recommended because of a high risk of liver toxicity.
  • Chasteberry: Initial studies suggest that chasteberry might help relieve menstrual period symptoms. But the evidence isn't strong enough to conclude one way or another.
  • Chromium: There is weak evidence that suggests chromium may help lower blood sugar.
  • Probiotics: Potential uses for probiotics may include IBS and allergy relief. While some evidence supports this, it's not a firm and foregone conclusion. Additional high-quality studies are still necessary.
  • Valerian: A few studies support valerian in relieving menopausal symptoms. But more high-quality studies with solid evidence are still necessary to assess valerian's effects better.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): There is some evidence—but not an overwhelming amount—suggesting riboflavin may reduce the number of migraines you experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form of anise?

    Anise is available in a few different dosage forms—with liquid potentially being the most common.

  • Are there anise products from manufacturers in the United States?

    Yes. There are anise products made by manufacturers in the United States.

  • Does anise have any health benefits?

    Yes. The anise seed is a source of B-complex vitamins, including thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). It's also a source of other vitamins, such as vitamins A and C. As for minerals, it's a source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc.

  • Are anise and star anise the same?

    No. Anise (Pimpinella anisum) and star anise (Illicium verum) have similar flavor profiles and uses. However, they do not come from the same plant. Anise is an herb from the parsley family, and star anise is the dry fruit from the star anise tree.

  • Are anise and licorice the same?

    No. Anise and licorice have very similar flavor profiles, but they do not come from the same plant. Anise is from the parsley family, and licorice is from the pea family.

  • Is anise just another word for fennel?

    No. Both anise and fennel are herbs from the same official family called Apiaceae. But anise is from the parsley part of the family, and fennel is from the carrot part of the family. They're not from the same plant.

  • How do I take anise safely?

    To safely take natural products—like anise—inform a healthcare provider and pharmacist about any medication changes. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medications, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving anise a good trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Anise & What to Look For

There are several different sources of anise.

Food Sources of Anise

Anise is naturally available as a plant from the parsley family. When the aniseed (anise fruit) is ripe and dried, it can be used as a spice.

The FDA has placed anise to its list of approved substances added to food.

You may see aniseed and anise oil as flavoring agents in various foods, such as curries, Italian sausage, baked goods, and desserts.

Anise Supplements

Anise might be available in the following forms:

  • Capsules
  • Liquid
  • Nasal spray
  • Powder
  • Skin products, like creams

What product is right for you will depend on your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. Each product may also work a bit differently. Follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions for use.


Anise is an herb from the parsley family. It might have potential use for high blood sugar, indigestion (upset stomach), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines, allergies, menstrual period symptoms, and menopause.

Similar to many medications and natural products, side effects and medication interactions are still possible. Additional higher-quality, longer-term, and larger clinical trials are still necessary to better evaluate the effectiveness and safety of anise.

Before taking anise, consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist, pharmacist, or healthcare provider to help you choose safely.

22 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.