Articles

Bunga Lawang

Plant Part Used

Fruit

Active Constituents

Anethole, cinnamaldehyde, 0-methoxycinnamaldehyde, p-methoxy-cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, p- methoxycinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol, trans-anethole, beta-caryophyllene, citronellol, estragole, eugenol methyl ether, myrcene, p-methoxy phenylacetone, terpinen-4-ol gamma-terpinene, anisaldehyde, astragalin, kaempferol, kaempferol-3-O-alpha-L-galactoside, kaempferol-3-O- beta –D-rutinoside, quercetin, quercetin-3-O-alpha-L-galactoside, quercetin-3-O-alpha-L-rhamnoside, quercetin-3-O-alpha-D-glucoside, quercetin-3-O-alpha-D-rutinoside, quercetin-3-O-alpha-D-xyloside, benzoic acid-4- beta –D-glucoside, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, cineol. Neurotropic sesquiterpenoids, veranisatins A, B and C, phenylpropanoids, two lignans. (1) , (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) , (7) , (8) , (9) , (10) , (11) , (12)

Introduction

Illicium verum Hook or star anise fruits are produced on a medium-sized evergreen tree, native to southern China and northern Vietnam. They grow in well-drained soils. (13)

It is star shaped, radiating between five and ten pointed boat-shaped carpels, averaging eight carpels. These hard carpels are seed-pods with tough skin. They are 1-3 cm in length and 0.3-0.5 cm in width, reddish-brown in color and they possess a rather sweet taste and aromatic odor.

Illicium Verum has carminative, stomachic, stimulant, and diuretic medicinal properties and is used by the Malays to combat stomachache due to the accumulation of intestinal gas, headache, and to promote vitality.

Standardization

No standard marker has been reported. The color test of the powdered fruit sample was documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph. (14)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

Illicium verum Hook f. (Chinese star anise) is often times confused with Illicium anisatum, a plant that produces morphologically similar fruits, yet contains neurotoxins (such as veranisatins) which can cause hyperactivity to the central nervous system and tonic-clonic seizures. Many convulsion episodes have been reported due to Illicium verum preparations and preparations contaminated with Illicium anisatum. (15) , (16) , (17) , (18) , (19) , (20)

Large doses of anethole, a chemical in Illicium verum, may cause poisoning with symptoms of trembling, cerebral congestion (21) and even epileptic convulsions. (22)

Side Effects

Ingestion of Illicium verum preparations and preparations contaminated with Illicium anisatum caused acute neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms such as convulsion, irritability, abnormal movements, vomiting, nausea, and nystagmus. (23) , (24) , (25)

Veranisatins from Illicium verum showed convulsion and lethal toxicity in mice at an oral dose of 3mg/kg, while at lower doses side effects of hypothermia was observed. (26)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

The use of the herb should be avoided in pregnant and lactating women.

Age Limitations

Due to the convulsive effect of star anise, all anise-containing products are not recommended for infant consumption.

Pharmacology

Detailed chemical studies done on Illicium verum Hook indicated that one of its components, anethole [1-methoxy-4-(1-propenyl)-benzene], possessed potent antimicrobial activity. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) studies performed with isolated anethole, showed that it is effective against different microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, and fungal strains. (27) The antibacterial activity of Illicium verum Hook against periodontopathic bacteria, particularly Eikenella corrodens was reported recently. (28)

The insecticidal effect of Illicium verum fruit, attributed by the fumigant activity of (E)-anethole against Blattella germanica adults was documented. (29) There was a study about the potential of hexane extract of Illicium verum fruit as a grain protectant against Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and Sitlphilus zeamais Motsch. (30) The methanol extract of Illicium verum fruit showed insecticidal effects against adults of rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae (L.) and the adzuki bean weevil, Callosobruchus chinensis (L.). (31)

Reported Uses:

Uses reported in folk medicine, but not supported by clinical data
The fruit of Illicium verum Hook f. is used for its carminative (32) , (33) , (34) , (35) , antirheumatic, stomachic, stimulant ,and vermifuge properties. (36) Its uses for hernias, lumbago, beri-beri, nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach have also been reported. (37) Star anise infusions are also frequently used in the treatment of infant colic. (38)

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  1)  Botanical Info

References

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