Pythagoras, the 6th century B.C. E. mathematician, investigated the potential uses of anise and believed that epileptic seizures could be prevented by simply holding the plant. The Roman scholar Pliny observed that anise removed breath odors if chewed in the morning. He also felt that the herb helped preserve a youthful appearance and he may be the source of the idea that anise bad dreams could be prevented by keeping anise near one’s bed. Hippocrates recommended anise seed for coughs. Indeed, the essential oil contained within the seed is a mild expectorant and exerts a direct effect upon the secretory cells of the respiratory tract.
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