This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics - Vegetable Kingdom", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica And Therapeutics: Vegetable Kingdom.
Active Ingredients. - The efficient ingredient of anise is the oil obtained from the fruits, which is a mixture of a fixed oil and the volatile anethol, a substance common not only to several Umbellifferae, but also to the Illicium anisatum and the Artemisia Dracunculus. The formula is C10H12O. Anise oil is colorless when fresh, but gradually becomes yellowish; it has the characteristic taste and smell of the seeds. Sp. gr., 0.98 or 0.99. It is very soluble in alcohol and ether.
Physiological Action. - Anise oil acts as a rapid poison to lice and to itch insects; it is slightly irritant to the human skin; it is a powerful narcotic poison to certain small birds; in half-ounce doses it kills rabbits with symptoms of narcotic-acrid poisoning. It affects cats and dogs but slightly.
Therapeutic Action. - Taken internally, anise oil in small doses is a mild stimulant to the stomach and intestines, and to the bronchial mucous membrane; and is useful in atonic dyspepsia, colic, flatulence, and chronic bronchitis. Externally it has been employed with success in the form of an ointment or a soap to destroy lice and itch insects. Various other therapeutic actions have been ascribed to it which it does not really possess. It is unquestionably eliminated both in the urine and the milk, and has therefore been credited with the power of increasing the excretions, but there is no good evidence of this. It is probable that the old epithet of intestinorum solamen, applied to it by Van Helmont, adequately expresses its value. By Galen anise was reckoned among the true anodynes or cordials.
Preparations and Dose. - Anisum, gr. x. - xxx. (.65-2.);
Oleum Anisi, m j. - v. (.05-.25); Spts. Anisi, 3 j. - ij. (4.-8.)