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Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is today grown almost exclusively in southern China, Indo-China, and Japan. Star anise, Illicium verum, is sometimes called Chinese star anise. It’s important to distinguish it from Japanese star anise, Illicium anisatum, which is highly toxic. Star anise is not related to the common anise, Anisum vulgare. It was first introduced into Europe in the seventeenth century. The oil, produced by a process of steam extraction, is substituted for European aniseed in commercial drinks.. Health Benefits of Star Anise; Like anise, star anise has carminative, stomachic, stimulant and diuretic properties. In the East it is used to combat colic and rheumatism. It is a common flavouring for medicinal teas, cough mixtures and pastilles.In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is prescribed as an digestive aid, promoting health of female reproductive organs and for lactating mothers to increase breast-milk secretion. It is used to promote appetite, to treat abdominal pain, digestive disturbances including colic, complaints caused by cold weather such as lumbago, and to relieve flatulence. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of star anise is useful in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and dry cough. For this reason, some cough mixtures contain star anise extract. Star anise, in its natural form, can help the body’s immune system fight off many strains of flu, as well as many other health challenges. Shikimic acid, a compound present in star anise is used for preparing drug for curing influenza or the flu virus. Star anise can also be used as for its sedating properties to ensure a good sleep. It is not intended for internal use. ABC also pointed out that the public should not confuse star anise with anise, sometimes called aniseseed (Pimpinella anisum), a member of the carrot family. Anise is a safe, commonly used food flavoring that is also generally recognized as safe by the FDA.