Day 5: Star Anise
The best way I know to start is by saying …. use caution with this oil!
Although readily available, the potential for adverse reactions with regular use is real; primarily because it’s main constituent is anethole which happens to be estrogenic in nature. That alone makes it ill-advised with children 5 and under as well as with nursing and pregnant women. Not to mention, for anyone living with breast or prostate cancer …
While I’m at it, allow me to add a few more contraindications:
one week before or after surgery due to its anticoagulant properties
people regularly taking aspirin or blood thinners
With this in mind, between the estragole, phenolic ether, and anethole, also a phenolic ether, star anise is a very potent oil; therefore, besides the estrogenic concerns, it’s wise to realize that a little of this oil goes a long way when using it. As with phenols, these compounds have a significant influence on the immune system; hence, the early ‘catch it before it turns full blown flu’ Tamiflu medication. At the same time, consistent use OR using strong concentrations are not recommended due to neurotoxicity.
All of this aside, this is a pretty dynamite oil to have on around for adults NOT on medications or for that matter living with an autoimmune disorder.
You see, besides the estrogen dependent cancers being a contraindication, estrogen is a primary signaling molecule that activates both the stress mechanism and immune system. That explains why star anise is recognized for its ability to ‘zap’ the flu. However, lets go back a tic to estrogen and autoimmune … what does one have to do with the other?1
Well, science has linked estrogen to autoimmune disorders as it signals changes to the nitric oxide synthase process activating the antibodies of the adaptive immune system. Therefore, to consume products albeit food, herbs or oils that act like estrogen in the body is absolutely counterintuitive as they’re only aggravating the condition. This is another reason we want to avoid using this oil with children. They’re already exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment, setting them up for the onset of some type of degenerative disease. Please know, this is a generalized statement and in no way is 100% fact. Everyone’s future health depends on their epigenome and lifestyle. I just issue this ‘warning’ as just that … an awareness alarm.
Nevertheless, star anise is beneficial in small doses and for those not taking medications; although, experiencing digestive issues, low flow menstrual cycles as well as menopause. To be honest, this is about as much as I’ve used it for with myself and clients and always, once in a blue moon. Because just like our kids, our bodies are repeatedly exposed to xenoestrogens and there is no sense in aggravating the system. Our goal is to be healthy and well, not the opposite.
With all of this, I trust I didn’t discourage you. In many instances, it is possible to blend oils in such a way that they support a stable reaction in the body. In other words, balancing out the specific mechanism of action of one oil. In this case, estrogen. However, due to the potential for neurotoxicity, I do not recommend anyone attempt an act of alchemy with star anise.
On that note, if you weren’t aware, I’m posting 31 days of essential oils on YouTube that you’re invited to watch. I do my best to keep them brief while sharing my thoughts on how to use them. Please let me know if you have any questions.