|Japanese star anise|
|Japanese star anise|
Illicium anisatum, commonly known as the Japanese star anise, is a tree similar to Chinese star anise. It is highly toxic, therefore it is not edible; instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan, where it is known as shikimi (樒). Cases of illness, including serious neurological effects such as seizures, reported after using star anise tea may be a result of using this species.
I. anisatum is native to Japan. It is similar to I. verum, but its fruit is smaller and with weaker odor, which is said to be more similar to cardamom than to anise. While it is poisonous and therefore unsuitable for using internally, it is used for treatment of some skin problems in traditional Chinese medicine.
Japanese star anise contains anisatin, shikimin and sikimitoxin, which cause severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive organs. Other compounds present in toxic species of Illicium are safrole and eugenol, which are not present in I. verum and are used to identify its adulteration. Shikimi gave its name to Shikimic acid, a substance also present in the plant.
The essential oil of air-dried Illicium anisatum obtained by hydrodistillation was analyzed by GC–MS. Fifty-two components were identified in the essential oil and the main component was eucalyptol (21.8%).
It is impossible to recognize Chinese and Japanese star anise in its dried or processed form by its appearance only, due to morphological similarities between the species.
There are cases of product recalls when products containing star anise were found to be contaminated by Japanese anise. Cases of consumers admitted to hospital with neurological symptoms after ingesting excessive doses of star anise or smaller doses of products adulterated with Japanese anise were described as well.
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- FDA Issues Advisory on “Teas”: Teas Made from Star Anise Were Associated With Illnesses Including Seizures, US Food and Drug Administration
- Neurotoxicities in infants seen with the consumption of star anise tea
- Perret C, Tabin R, Marcoz JP, Llor J, Cheseaux JJ "Apparent life-threatening event in infants: think about star anise intoxication!". Arch Pediatr. 2011 Jul;18(7):750-3
- JI-YOUNG KIM et all, Chemical composition, antioxidant, anti-elastase, and anti-inflammatory activities of Illicium anisatum essential oil, Acta Pharm. 59 (2009) 289-300