Chinese star anise (Illicium verum).

Plant Part Used: Fruit, seed.

Dominican Medicinal Uses: The fruits or seeds are traditionally prepared as a decoction and taken orally for flatulence, headache, indigestion, stomach ache, upper respiratory tract infection and cleansing the intestines.

Safety: The fruit is generally considered safe for human consumption in small amounts and is widely used as a culinary spice. When taken in excessive quantities, isolated compounds from the fruit have shown neurotoxic effects in animal studies. Caution is advised due to possible adulteration with the highly poisonous look-alike, Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum).

Contraindications: Avoid use in small children due to potential contamination with misidentified toxic look-alike. Caution and avoidance is advised in patients with a history of convulsive disorders including epilepsy due to case reports of seizures associated with internal use of the tea. Caution advised in patients prior to surgery due to potential risk of increased bleeding.

Drug Interactions: Anticoagulants, antiplatelet medications and NSAIDS: based on animal studies in mice, star anise increases cytochrome P450 dependent 7-ethoxycoumarin O-deethylase activity which may affect the metabolism of these drugs.

Clinical Data: No human clinical trials evaluating this plant species have been identified in the available literature.

Laboratory & Preclinical Data: The following biological activities of this plant have been demonstrated in laboratory and preclinical studies using in vitro or animal models: antiangiogenic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, insecticidal, neurotropic and sepsis prevention.

* See entry for Anís de estrella in “Part 3: Dominican Medicinal Plant Profiles” of this book for more information, including references.

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