This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Anisum Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Apium anisum dictum semine suaveolente Tourn. Pim-pinella Anisum Linn. Anise: a small annual umbelliferous herb; producing roundish striated seeds, flatted on one side and pointed at one end, of a pale colour inclining to a green. The upper leaves are divided into fine tegments; the lower entire, roundish, and serrated about the edges. This plant, said to be a native of Egypt, Syria, and other places of the east, is cultivated, for medicinal and culinary uses, in the southern parts of Europe: it is raised also in some of our gardens, but seldom brings its seeds to perfection in this climate. The seeds brought from Spain, which are dis-tinguished from those of other countries by being somewhat smaller, are accounted the best.
Aniseeds have an aromatic smell, and a pleasant warm taste accompanied with a degree of sweetness. They are of common use, as a warm carminative, in flatulent colics, in the gripes to which young children are subject, in flatulent pains and obstructions of the breast, in weakness of the stomach and indigestion, in diarrhoeas, and for strengthening the tone of the viscera and intestines in general: they are supposed to be in these intentions the most effectual of the warm seeds. They are sometimes taken in powder, from a scruple to a dram; and in some places entire, candied with sugar.
They totally give out their virtue to rectified spirit, the seeds, after the action of this men-struum, proving inodorous and insipid: the tincture is of a bright lemon colour, and tastes very agreeably. The spirit, distilled off from the filtered tincture, has a light taste of the seeds, but leaves far the greatest part of their virtue behind in the extract, which proves a very pleasant, sweetish, moderately warm, and not very pungent aromatic. In all these preparations made with rectified spirit, the peculiar smell of the aniseeds, to some persons offensive, is in great measure covered by the spirit.
Infused in water, they impart a little of their smell, but scarcely any taste: in distillation they give over the whole of their flavour, the remaining decoction having nothing of the peculiar scent or taste of the aniseeds. Along with the water arises an essential oil, to the quantity of an ounce or more from three pounds. This oil, in colour yellowish, congeals, even when the air is not sensibly cold, into a butyraceous white concrete. Its smell, which exactly resembles that of the aniseeds, is extremely durable and diffusive; its taste milder and less pungent than that of almost any other distilled vegetable oil: twenty drops may be taken for a dose, though common practice rarely goes beyond half that number: it is recommended chiefly in disorders of the breast, and said to be less effectual in flatulencies and colics, than the seeds in substance. Geoffroy observes, that milk, drawn from the breast soon after the oil has been taken, is found impregnated with its smell.
Ol. essentiale fem. anifi Ph. Lond. & Ed.
These seeds yield an oil likewise upon ex-pression, of a greenish colour, in taste grateful, and strongly impregnated with the flavour of the seeds: sixteen ounces, lightly moistened by exposure to the fleam of boiling water, are said to afford one ounce. This oil is composed of a gross, insipid, inodorous one, of the same nature with the common expressed oils; and of a part of the essential oil of the seed, on which its flavour depends. On digesting the compound in rectified spirit, the odorous oil is extracted; in distillation with water it is elevated, so as to leave the other by itself inodorous and insipid. The gross oil appears to reside in the kernel of the seed, the essential in the cortical part.
Among the aromatics, of similar intention, that have been tried in composition with ani-seeds, those of angelica seem the best adapted to improve their flavour. A spirituous water prepared from a mixture of equal parts of the two, by drawing off a gallon of proof spirit from half a pound of each of the seeds, is commonly kept in the shops, and proves a suffici-ently elegant carminative cordial.