Ba Jiao Hui Xiang (Anisi Stellati Fructus or Star Anise)

What Is Ba Jiao Hui Xiang

Ba Jiao Hui Xiang commonly known as Anisi Stellati Fructus or Star Anise is the ripe fruit of Illicium verum Hook. F., which is an aromatic evergreen tree belonging to the family Schisandraceae. It is a known Chinese traditional spice, which first appeared in <Bencao Pinhui Jingyao>(Collected Essentials of Species of Materia Medica) in the 18th year of Hongzhi in the Ming Dynasty (about 1,505 AD).

There are about 38 species of Illicium. Most of them are distributed in eastern and southeastern Asia, and a few species are distributed in southeastern North America and Central and South America. Among them, the most famous species is Illicium verum Hook. F.

Illicium verum Hook. F. commonly called star aniseed, star of anise, or Chinese star anise is a medium-sized tree with star-shaped fruit. This plant is semi-hardy. they may grow poorly outside of tropical conditions. They are suitable for planting on deep, well-drained, fertile, and moist, acidic sandy loam or loamy soils. They are native to southern China and northeastern Vietnam and are now widely grown in eastern Asia and Southeast Asia.

Illicium verum Hook. F.

Illicium verum Hook. F. is non-toxic, however, other related species Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum L.) and Illicium lanceolatum A. C. Smith are poisonous. In some areas of China, there have been accidents of poisoning caused by the mistaken use of the above species as Illicium verum.

From autumn to winter, people gather the ripe fruits of Illicium verum Hook. F., dry them, or boil them slightly in water and dry them, or fry them with salt water, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Ba Jiao Hui Xiang contains trans-anethole, estragole, limonene, cis-anethole, α-pinene, p-cymene, eugenol, linalool, camphene, β-myrcene, trans-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, γ-terpineol, terpinolene, γ-terpinene, trans-α-bergamotene, α-copaene, cubebene, cyperene, (+)-9-epiledene, β-elemene, α-phellandrene, foeniculin, α-caryophyllene, β-caryophyllene, α-muurolene, p-anisaldehyde, 2-(1-cyclopentenyl)-furan, isobornyl thiocyanoacetate, trans-chalcone, kaempferol, quercetin, shikimic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, myristic acid, R-sec-butyl-d-glucopyranoside, and neolignans.

Generally, red-brown or yellow-brown, and oily Ba Jiao Hui Xiang with a strong fragrance is preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Ba Jiao Hui Xiang is relatively warm, with a pungent taste. It has a therapeutic effect on pathological changes in the liver, kidney, spleen, and stomach meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to warm yang for dispel cold, regulate qi-flowing for relieve pain, and treat periumbilical colic due to cold, lumbago due to the kidney deficiency, cold pain of stomach and abdomen, belching, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, abdominal distention and pain, loose stool, diarrhea, stomach pain, indigestion, infantile colic, colitis, cough, influenza bronchitis, toothache, periodontal swelling, insomnia, cold pain in waist and knees, rheumatoid joint pain, acute torsion contusion, and hydrocele of the testis.

Approximately 95% of star anise is used as a spice each year, and only 5% is used as a medicine.


  • Anti-inflammation, attenuates ovalbumin-induced asthma in mice [1], and inhibits the production of NO and PGE2 in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages [2].
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH, ABTS, and PTIO free radicals, inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Inhibiting influenza A, influenza B viruses, herpes simplex virus, and coxsackievirus B3.
  • Increasing the pain threshold, prolonging the pain time of mice to thermal stimulation, and reducing the number of writhing in mice induced by acetic acid.
  • Warming yang for dispelling cold, treating periumbilical colic due to cold.
  • Warming the kidney, and treating lumbago due to the kidney deficiency.
  • Regulating the flow of qi, treating abdominal distention and pain caused by qi stagnation due to stomach-cold.
  • Dispelling cold to stop the pain, treating vomiting, cold pain of stomach and abdomen caused by stomach-cold.
  • Its ethanolic extracts can reduce the aortic atherosclerotic plaque area and the immunoreactivity of iNOS activation in apolipoprotein E-knockout (ApoE−/−) mice fed on a high-fat diet [3].
  • Its ethanolic extract can reduce elevated blood glucose, urea, lipid, liver function parameters, and renal AGEs levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats [4].
  • Its essential oil has a certain inhibitory effect on Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus [5].
  • Studies have shown that its extracts possess potent CNS depressant action and anxiolytic effects without interfering with motor coordination [6].
  • Its extracts inhibited angiogenesis in Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) at concentrations of 10 μg/ml. Another study reported that the oral administration of it resulted in a decrease of metastasis in lung cancer cells with little or no cytotoxic effects [7].


Side Effects

Overdose of it may cause loss of vision and sores.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Ba Jiao Hui Xiang should be controlled between 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or grounds for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Ba Jiao Hui Xiang should not take it.
  • Patients with hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Patients with heat in the lungs and stomach should not take it.
  • It may cause constipation when taken by pregnant women.
  • Lactating women, children, and the elderly and infirm should be taken under the guidance of a physician.