We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to support gut health. However, as we move forward, we keep finding that the answers to our GI problems are remedies from the past. Our ancestors turned to star anise to help prevent illness and to provide relief for gastrointestinal distress. Today, you can use star anise in a variety of ways. Let’s discuss how.
- 1 What is Star Anise?
- 2 Benefits of Star Anise
- 3 How to Grind Star Anise Powder
- 4 Ways to Use Star Anise
- 4.1 Replacement for Sugar
- 4.2 Gut Healthy Thai Iced Tea
- 4.3 Star Anise Braised Chicken
- 4.4 Cinnamon Spice Star Anise Green Tea
- 4.5 Chickpea Star Anise Masala
- 5 Need Help to Use Star Anise for Gut Health?
- 6 Resources
What is Star Anise?
Star anise (Illicium verum) is an evergreen tree that originated in Vietnam, Laos, and China. Origin is an important distinction because Japanese star anise is highly toxic!
This member of the magnolia family produces a nutrient-dense fruit that we know as star anise. Typically, star anise is ground into a powder. It’s one of the five spices used in traditional Chinese cooking.
Chinese five-spice includes:
- Szechwan Peppercorns
- Star Anise
While Chinese five-spice is an excellent way to use star anise, it’s not the most efficient. The further from the manufacturing date, the less potent the spice will be. You don’t know when the spice was created (and under what conditions). So, make sure to buy whole star anise for these recipes.
Benefits of Star Anise
Prior to this article on how to use star anise, we wrote an entry about the benefits of star anise. You can read about each holistic use of star anise. Here we will briefly touch on these positive effects.
Benefits you may experience from star anise include:
- Antibacterial Properties 
- Antioxidants to Boost Immune System 
- Antimicrobial Activity (including against Candida) 
- Flu Vaccines 
That’s right! Star anise fights off influenza. In fact, star anise is an active ingredient in Theraflu.
Much of these benefits of star anise are thanks to its unique compounds:
- Linalool – Promotes Calming, Anti-inflammatory Properties 
- Shikimic Acid – Antibacterial that Fights Flu 
- Anethole – Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Diabetic Traits 
While linalool is in many essential oils, shikimic acid and anethole are rather rare. Star anise has an abundance of these molecules, anethole in particular. That’s why many people use star anise for Leaky Gut Syndrome, IBS, and other GI disorders.
How to Grind Star Anise Powder
Star anise is a pungent spice. It has a bitter, almost black licorice-like flavor. It has a hint of peppery notes with a fruity bite and a touch of spice. For many, star anise is an acquired taste, while others love it off the bat. We are going to tell you some ways to use star anise. You’re bound to find something that works for you!
The best way to add star anise to your meal cuisine is freshly ground. Just grab the fruit as-is, and go town, seeds and all.
A spice grinder or a mortar and pestle will do the trick.
Add it to a soup stock, pasta sauce, or marinade. It also pairs nicely with oils for salad dressings and sprinkled on a latte.
Remember, start slowly when dressing your food with star anise. It’s pungent!
How to Store Fresh Star Anise
In many cases, it’ll be cheaper to buy star anise in bulk. With this spice, a little bit goes a long way. Therefore, you might not need to use your star anise yet. Due to its potent antibacterial traits, you can store whole star anise into a glass container for up to two years.
Fresh ground star anise lasts half the amount of time. Once you cut open a whole food, it begins to oxidize. So, be sure to place the ground star anise in an air-tight glass container and use star anise within a year.
Ways to Use Star Anise
Due to its unique flavor, you can use star anise in a variety of ways.
In some instances, you can use the whole star anise, while others will call for freshly ground powder.
The shape of star anise presents as a choking hazard.
It should be treated like a bay leaf or clove. If you use the whole star anise, be sure to remove it from the final products before eating.
Replacement for Sugar
As a society, we are addicted to sugar. Every generation consumes more and more of this nutrient-deficient substance. Meanwhile, obesity rates and cases of cardiovascular disease continues to grow.
One analysis from the New Hampshire Division of Public Health and Safety found,
“Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week! ”– New Hampshire Division of Public Health and Safety
The only way to survive this epidemic is to perform a sugar detox. So, how do we make the mundane taste as delicious as table sugar used to? By creating a suitable substitute.
Star Anise Sugar Recipe
You can mix 1/2 of a freshly ground star anise with either:
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Half a Lemon Peel Zest
- Half an Orange Peel Zest
- Vanilla Beans
- 1 Clove
Mix and match with different combinations. Sure, they’re not sugar. However, they bring so much flavor; you probably won’t miss the sugar!
Gut Healthy Thai Iced Tea
There are many benefits of tea in a healthy gut diet plan. Adding star anise to the mix will only strengthen these positive effects.
Here is a take on traditional Thai iced tea. Typically, Thai iced tea uses sweetened condensed milk. In this recipe, we opt for coconut milk.
Below is a recipe for two glasses. If you make a bigger batch, save the tea in the refrigerator. Wait to add coconut milk until drinking.
Gut Healthy Thai Iced Tea with Star Anise
- 2 cups Water
- 2 Black Tea Bags
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 Cardamom Pod, Smashed
- 1 Whole Clove
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
- Boil water.
- Add tea bags and spices.
- Boil gently for three to five minutes.
- Steep the tea for a half-hour to two hours.
- Remove the spices and tea bags and pour in coconut milk.
Star Anise Braised Chicken
One of the best ways to receive the most nutrients when you use star anise is to combine the spice with healthy fats. Not only does the licorice-like flavor complement the meat, but the fats help you absorb the beneficial antioxidants from the fruit.
Star Anise Braised Chicken Recipe
- 1 T Avocado Oil
- 1 1/2 pounds Free-Range Chicken Breast
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
- 1/2 Onion, Chopped
- 1-inch Ginger, Cut in Strips
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Sliced
- 1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
- 1/2 cup Stock (or Bone Broth)
- 1 T Honey
- 1 Whole Star Anise
- 1/4 cup Liquid Aminos (or Soy Sauce)
- 2 Scallions
- Heat avocado oil over medium-high heat.
- Place the chicken skin-side down in the oil, and allow to brown, three to five minutes on each side.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with a paper towel and add sea salt.
- Add the onion to the pan and allow to cook for about two minutes.
- Add in the ginger and cook for one minute, before adding the garlic cloves and cooking for one more.
- Add in the rice vinegar and stock.
- Bring to a boil.
- Pour in the honey, star anise, and liquid aminos.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken once after 15.
- Remove chicken from heat and garnish with scallions.
Cinnamon Spice Star Anise Green Tea
One of the best homeopathic remedies is drinking tea for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Green tea is rich in phenols that help support your immune system. In turn, it makes chronic inflammation in the gut biome more manageable. Here’s an easy way to use star anise that will protect your gut lining.
Cinnamon Spice Star Anise Green Tea Recipe
- 2 T Loose Green Tea Leaves
- 4 cups Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 T Star Anise, Broken in Pieces
- Orange or Lemon Zest
- Put teal leaves in a teapot.
- Boil water in a saucepan.
- Throw in the cinnamon stick and star anise.
- Allow infusing for two to three minutes.
- Pour into a measuring cup.
- Use a sieve and pour the star anise-cinnamon water into the teapot.
- Allow sitting for two to three minutes before straining into a mug.
- Grate some citrus zest on top for a refreshing drink!
Chickpea Star Anise Masala
If you are a vegan, you can also use star anise to flavor a protein-packed dish. This dish takes traditional Indian flavors and infuses it with the antioxidant-rich star anise. Trust us; you won’t even miss the chicken in this one!
Just as a heads up, you should soak fresh chickpeas in water overnight and then boil them before using. In a pinch, you can use canned chickpeas. However, beware of BPA-lined cans and other forms of plastic in your food. These will leach into the water and cause more ruckus in your GI tract.
- 1 1/2 cup Chickpeas (or 2 Cans), Boiled
- 1 cup Jasmine Rice
- 1/3 cup Peanut Oil
- 1 cup Onion, chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 4 T Curry Paste
- 6 Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped
- 4 Cardamom Pods, Ground
- 1 Cinnamon Stick, Ground
- 1 T Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/3 tsp Ground Star Anise (2 Whole Star Anise)
- 1/2 cup Water
- Heat peanut oil in a pot on medium-high for one minute.
- Start making the rice.
- Add in onion and cook for five to seven minutes.
- Add in the garlic cloves and cook for two more minutes.
- Reduce the heat down to medium and add in the curry paste, working it around the pot.
- Pour in the dates, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, and star anise.
- Cook for three minutes before stirring in chickpeas and water.
- Allow to cook for five minutes.
- Drain rice and plate it.
- Pour masala on top of rice and garnish with cilantro. If using whole star anise instead of powder, remove from the masala before pouring.
Need Help to Use Star Anise for Gut Health?
Adding new foods to our diet and changing up our wellness game can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, we are here to help you. Take the time to Thryve Inside today by joining our Gut Health Program.
As a member of our gut health program, we will use an at-home gut test to find our which stomach bacteria are in your system. Based on those results, we make probiotic recommendations that you can purchase to bring balance to your intestinal flora.
Furthermore, we have a healthy gut diet plan tailored to your needs. Our database has over 1,500 ingredients. You will find many ways to use star anise. Get your gut health on track and Thryve Inside!
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 Lim, Louisa. “Swine Flu Bumps Up Price Of Chinese Spice.” NPR, NPR, 18 May 2009, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104191227.
 Peana, A T, et al. “Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Linalool and Linalyl Acetate Constituents of Essential Oils.” Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12587692.
 Tripathi, P, et al. “Shikimic Acid, a Base Compound for the Formulation of Swine/Avian Flu Drug: Statistical Optimization, Fed-Batch and Scale up Studies along with Its Application as an Antibacterial Agent.” Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25563634.
 Sheikh, Bashir Ahmad, et al. “Trans-Anethole, a Terpenoid Ameliorates Hyperglycemia by Regulating Key Enzymes of Carbohydrate Metabolism in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats.” Biochimie, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25708856.
 “How Much Sugar Do You Eat? You May Be Surprised! .” New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, Aug. 2014, www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf.