It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani in Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian State.
Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient which gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor . It is also used in the production of Sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe.
Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for colic and rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.
Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu. Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. A drug company named now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting '''' bacteria. There is no longer any shortage of star anise and it is readily available and is relatively cheap.
Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a ten-stage manufacturing process which takes a year. Reports say 90% of the harvest is already used by the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer in making Tamiflu, but other reports say there is an abundance of the spice in the main regions - Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan.
Japanese star anise , a similar tree, is not edible because it is highly toxic; instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan. Cases of illness, including "serious neurological effects, such as seizures", reported after using star anise tea may be a result of using this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive organs.
* Refer to the 4th edition of the European Pharmacopoeia .
Differentiation with other species
Joshi ''et al.'' have tried the techniques of fluorescent microscopy and gas chromatography to distinguished the species, while Lederer ''et al.'' employed the state of the art which combines the technology of TLC with HPLC-MS/MS.