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Star Anise: Benefits, Uses and Recipes

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Spices come in all shapes and sizes, and star anise (Illicium verum Hook.f.)1 is a classic example. Its dark and attractive color and unique star shape makes it stand out from other spices. There’s also research highlighting potential health benefits star anise can offer, making it a spice you should consider adding to your cooking arsenal.

What Is Star Anise?

Star anise grows as dark brown pods with six to eight segments each containing a seed. This spice hails from an evergreen tree plant native to southwest China2 and northeast Vietnam, although it’s also cultivated in Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, India and the Philippines.3 Star anise tastes sweet and spicy, but slightly more bitter than Spanish anise. Some chefs use it to provide a licorice flavor for savory dishes.4

Some people think that star anise and anise seed are the same. While both spices contain a substance called anethole,5 their similarities end there. Anise seed belongs to the Apiaceae family,6 while star anise comes from the Illiciaceae family.7 Anise seed is used more in Western dishes, particularly in Greek and French cuisines,8 while star anise is more common in Asian cooking.9

6 Health Benefits of Star Anise

If you’re looking for a flavorful spice with health benefits, star anise might be a good choice. Research has revealed that star anise may:

1. Provide antioxidants for the body — According to a Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry article, star anise extract has potent antioxidant abilities against H2O2-induced cell death and DNA damage.10

2. Help reduce cancer risk — A study published in the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions revealed that animals fed star anise had inhibited cancer development.11 However, more research is needed to show the full extent of this supposed benefit.

3. Exhibit antifungal and antibacterial capabilities — Results showed that star anise extracts and essential oils have antifungal abilities, especially against Candida albicans, a common yeast infection.12

Star anise also has antibacterial properties. Four antimicrobial compounds derived from the spice were effective against nearly 70 strains of drug-resistant bacteria.13

4. Target conditions like influenza and cough — Star anise can help fight influenza because of its shikimic acid content.14 A 2008 study discovered that shikimic acid, together with a plant antioxidant called quercetin, enhanced immune system function and helped protect the body against viral diseases.15 Ingesting star anise may also help relieve cough16 and sore throat.17

5. Improve digestion and dealing with digestive complaints — Star anise tea may help alleviate gas, abdominal cramps,18 indigestion, bloating and constipation.19

6. Address sleep disorders — This spice has mild sedative properties that may aid in calming nerves and ease sleep disorders.20

How to Use Star Anise

Star anise is mainly used for culinary purposes, especially in Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines.21 It can be added to alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.22 Star anise is a vital ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder, along with cloves, fennel seeds, Chinese cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns.23

This spice is also known for its medicinal uses. In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise boasts stimulant and expectorant properties, and may increase libido24 and facilitate proper digestion.25 Research revealed that using star anise tea can help alleviate diseases like colic and arthritis.26

Growing Star Anise at Home

Star anise plants are usually cultivated from cuttings or seeds, and are best grown in USDA zones 7 through 10, in full sun or partial shade.27 According to “Spices: Agrotechniques for Quality Produce,” star anise thrives in warm, subtropical climates, and in places where temperatures don’t dip below 10 degrees F.

When growing star anise at home, start by sowing seeds in pots or containers, or plant them directly outside. Adding 3 inches of compost or aged manure on the ground around the tree during spring can work as your fertilizer, although you can also apply slow release fertilizer during the same season.28

The soil should be humus- and compost-rich, with a loamy29 and well-drained texture, and with a neutral to acidic pH level.30 Water the plant frequently to keep the soil slightly moist. While the plant is young, actively prune it so it can have the appearance of a bush, and remove dead, diseased and weak branches.

A star anise tree takes at least six years to grow from seeds, so you might have to wait for the plant to fully mature. Once the tree is ready, harvest star anise while they’re still green, and then sun-dry them until their color changes to a reddish-brown hue. The seeds can be removed from the pods after.31

Try These Delicious Recipes With Star Anise

You can find whole or ground star anise in Asian supermarkets or spice stores,32 although whole spices are more ideal. Grind whole star anise using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Keep unused star anise inside an airtight container in a cool and dark place that isn’t exposed to heat, moisture or sunlight, where it can keep for at least one year.33 If you bought ground star anise powder, use it within six months, or else you’ll end up with a spice that lacks flavor.34

In cooking, star anise is used to enhance the flavors of duck, eggs, fish, leeks, pears, pork, poultry, pumpkin, shrimp or pastry, to name a few.35 It also goes well in soups, just like this carrot soup with star anise recipe:36

Carrot Soup With Star Anise

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons grass fed butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 5 whole star anise, divided
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 1-pound bags peeled organic baby carrots
  • 2 cups homemade chicken or bone broth

Procedure

  1. Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, thyme, three star anise pods, bay leaves and garlic. Sauté until they soften, for about five minutes.
  3. Add carrots and broth. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until carrots are very tender, for about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove and discard thyme sprigs, star anise and bay leaves.
  5. Working in small batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth and return to same pot. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made one day ahead. Cool slightly, cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.
  6. Finely grind remaining star anise in spice mill or coffee grinder. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with ground star anise.

Serving size: 6 to 8

As mentioned, star anise tea may help relieve certain illnesses. If you want to brew your own tea, follow this recipe, which features other healthy ingredients:37

Cinnamon-Star Anise Green Tea Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (8 grams) medium-size loose-leaf organic green tea or 4 organic green tea bags
  • 1 5-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 8 whole star anise or 1 1/2 tablespoon broken star anise pieces
  • 4 cups boiling water

Procedure

  1. Place tea leaves or tea bags into a prewarmed teapot and set aside.
  2. Add the cinnamon stick and star anise into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup. Add the boiling water, stir the mixture and infuse for two minutes.
  3. Pour infusion into the teapot. Carefully strain it to prevent the cinnamon and star anise from being added into the teapot. Steep the tea in the spice infusion for two minutes.
  4. Strain the finished brew, place into teacups and serve immediately.

This recipe makes 2 to 4 servings.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

If you haven’t replenished your stock at home, but want its strong licorice flavor in your dishes, here are star anise substitutes you can use:38

  • Anise seed and a pinch of allspice (one crushed star anise is equivalent to one-half teaspoon crushed anise seed)
  • Chinese five-spice powder
  • A few drops of anise extract

Try Star Anise Essential Oil, Too

Star anise seeds can be steam-distilled to produce a pale yellow oil with a licorice-like aroma.39 Their main components are trans-anethole, caryophyllene and limonene.40


Star anise essential oil can be added to aromatherapy blends,41 soaps and perfumes.42 It may aid in relieving bronchitis, colds,43 digestion problems, and painful muscles.44 Combine it with a carrier oil, such as coconut, jojoba, sweet almond or olive oil, before applying topically.

Prior to using, consult your physician and take an allergen patch test to check for potential allergies. Don’t use star anise oil if it’s oxidized or old,45 or before driving or operating machinery or performing activities that need full attention, as it may slow down your reflexes.46

Potential Side Effects of Star Anise

If you fall under these groups, refrain from using the oil or consuming high amounts of star anise altogether:

  • Children below 5 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People with endometriosis or estrogen-dependent cancers

While there’s information citing star anise’s potential in increasing breastmilk production,47 talk to your physician before using the essential oil or consuming high doses of this spice. It’s said that star anise, as well as other herbs like yarrow, chickweed and buckthorn, may pass through breastmilk and affect your infant.48 One study found that after star anise tea was given to young infants to relieve colic, neurological troubles occurred, with symptoms such as tremors, spasms and vomiting.49

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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