Star Anise

star aniseThis spice comes from an evergreen tree in China and is greatly admired for its beauty. It has a 6 or 8-pointed star of slender pods, each cradling a seed. It not only looks beautiful, it tastes of a lovely licorice flavor with a hint of cinnamon and clove.

This spice is 13 times sweeter than sugar, but is often used in savory recipes, particularly with meats.

In China, which has used it for centuries, star anise is a key ingredient in five-spice powder (with cloves, cinnamon, fennel and Sichuan peppercorns).

Star Anise…more than meets the eye.

This beautiful spice is more than just another pretty face. It has loads of flavor and even medicinal uses.

One whole star is enough to aromatize a vegetable stir fry dish.  When simmered with onions and soy sauce or tamari, it add a nice flare to beef, chicken and lamb.

Medicinal uses include:

  • Relieves gas, cramping, bloating and indigestion
  • Used in traditional Chinese medicine for clearing mucus from the respiratory tract
  • Case studies have indicated it useful for sinus issues
  • Fights influenza
  • Research shows it helps wards off viral, bacterial and fungal infections including Hepatitis B., Herpes simplex 1, HIV, Stept bacteria, Epstein-Barr virus and more.

Here are a few ideas in case this spice is new to you:

  1. Put a star anise in the pan when roasting chicken or beef.
  2. Add star anise to stewed apples or plums.
  3. Use it in soups, stews, and casseroles that require long cooking times.
  4. Use it to flavor teas.
  5. Grind it and add to a marinade.


Try adding one dried star anise pod and one slice of a fresh orange to a glass of water, and let sit for about 30 minutes before drinking it.  The water becomes infused with the spice and citrus flavor for a refreshing change of pace in beverages. Make a pitcher of this, for serving when entertaining; your guests will be delighted.

Spices Star Anise pairs well with:

Allspice, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Chile, Cinnamon, Cumin, Curry, Ginger, Fennel Seed, Mint, Nutmeg, Vanilla


Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is a common garden plant that is member of the nightshade family.  It produces hot, fiery, red fruits used to flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. The hotness produced by cayenne is caused by its high concentration of a substance called capsaicin. The word Capsaicin is believed to have been derived from Greek, meaning “to bite”.

This common spice herb has earned a reputation as a kind of “cure-all”. If you have ever cut yourself with a knife in the kitchen, next time think about trying cayenne powder from your cupboard to quickly and effectively stop the bleeding. Cayenne’s anti-microbial properties can also prevent infections.

This is one herb I would not be without in both my kitchen cupboard and my medicine cabinet. For foods, I love to add just a touch of Cayenne to add a little zip to the food. It is also one of the herbs I think of when it comes to pain relief. Applying the extract or tincture to the skin encourages circulation to that part of the body. Looking at the list of medicinal benefits below will convince you, too, to add it to you commonly used herbs.

Cayenne and other spicy peppers were once falsely blamed for causing ulcers, but now are accepted as a natural treatment for ulcers. Cayenne supports the health of the lining of the stomach, promotes tissue healing by bringing blood to the area, and addresses secondary infections such as H. pylori that are often common along with ulcers. It also blocks substance P, a pain receptor neurotransmitter, causing pain relief associated with ulcers.

Note: When using topical capsaicin products be sure to avoid touching eyes or other sensitive areas. It is best to start in very small doses and build up tolerance due to its irritating nature that some people may react to.

Latin Name:Capsium annuum
Key Elements – Warming & stimulating

Taste: Hot and acrid.

Parts used: Fruit (ripe peppers) and seeds.

Plant Preparations: Food, tincture, infusion, liniment, oil, salve.

Medicinal Uses: I consider Cayenne a healing food or a medicinal food. It can be used both internally and externally. Here are some well know used for Cayenne.

  • Opens and strongly stimulates circulatory
  • Known as a heart tonic because it normalizes and strengthens cardiovascular system
  • Regulates blood flow in the body
  • Considered a blood pressure equalizer – both hypertension (high) and hypotension (low)
  • Reduces blood clots due to stimulative circulatory properties
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Varicose veins
  • Traditional asthma remedy
  • Promotes secretions from the mucous membranes (helps push out mucus)
  • May help pneumonia
  • Useful for bronchitis
  • Good general remedy for colds because it fights viral infections
  • Gargle with a tea for sore throats or tonsillitis
  • Warms cold hands and feet
  • Promotes sweating
  • Used for rheumatism
  • Commonly used for arthritis
  • Will stop bleeding (hemostat) and nosebleeds
  • Known to stimulate digestion – For people with cold and stagnant digestion have a difficult time transforming food into nutrients. This condition is indicated when tongue is swollen, wet, with possible heavy white coating. There is likely bloating, gas, belching, loss of appetite and loose stools with undigested food.
  • Increases appetite due to digestive stimulating properties
  • Used to relieve constipation
  • For expelling worms and parasites
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • May be useful for Parkinson’s disease, convulsions, and paralysis
  • Useful for diabetics because it regulates blood sugar levels
  • Shingles
  • Migraine headaches
  • Used externally on weak nerve force or painful area and muscle weakness
  • For frostbite, sprinkle a small amount of powder on socks to prevent frostbite
  • For shock, heart attack or trauma use 1 dropper full of the tincture under the tongue. For heart attacks it works by opening the peripheral capillaries and increasing circulation to the extremities of the body while reducing the pressure of the heart.
  • For wounds and sores, especially old ones
  • May help with weight loss because the body’s thermal burn is increased

Systems Supported: Brain, Cardiovascular, Circulatory, Digestion, Nerves, Respiratory, Skin.

Minerals/Vitamins:  Potassium, manganese, vitamin A, B2, B6, C and E.

Plant Properties: Analgesic, Antiseptic (anti-microbial), Anti-fungal, Antioxidant, Carminative, Coagulant, Diaphoretic, Expectorant, Hemostat, Hypotensive, Rubefacient, Stimulant, Styptic, Tonic, Vulnerary


Note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice from your professional healthcare provider. Please consult your qualified healthcare provider for treatment of medical problems.