Today’s featured supplement is actually a aromatic spice, used for centuries in China, India and parts of Vietnam to add flavor to meals. It grows on a type of evergreen tree native to these countries. The tree produces the star anise fruit, which is green and then turns brown and woody as it ripens. The star shaped fruits are picked before they fully ripen and dried in the sun to harden.
Valued for its sweet, licorice like flavor, star anise also has important health benefits.
Star anise is rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron. It has powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, making star anise great for treating the flu. In fact, this spice contains a compound called shikimic acid that is the main ingredient in the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.
Star anise has strong expectorant properties that help to clear up mucus and congestion in the body. It is used as a digestive aid to relieve gas, bloating, constipation, cramping, heartburn and indigestion. Star anise is also beneficial in treating asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, back pain, shingles, herpes and sinus infections.
In addition, star anise has sedative properties that ensure a good night’s sleep. And it supports female reproductive health and helps to increase the flow of milk in lactating mothers.
As a tea, which is how I primarily use this spice, star anise significantly boosts the immune system and wards off colds and flus. It can be purchased as a capsule or in dried or powder form. As a cream it helps to treat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.
I initially purchased dried star anise because of its fragrant, spicy scent. I included it in homemade potpourri. Then I discovered its amazing health benefits. No more letting this valuable spice go up in smoke. I add two teaspoons of the dried fruit, which looks like star shaped pods, to my tea infuser basket, pour boiling water into the cup and cover, letting the tea steep for 15 minutes.
The tea has a delicate and mild licorice flavor with hints of cinnamon and cloves. I’m sipping on a cup now as I write this post, and thinking I need to enjoy star anise tea more often. The dried flowers are also a wonderful addition to hot spiced apple cider in the winter.
I think I might go prepare a second cup of star anise tea!