Neurotoxicities in infants seen with the consumption of star anise tea

Pediatrics. 2004 Nov;114(5):e653-6. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-0058. Epub 2004 Oct 18.


Chinese star anise (Illicium verum Hook f.) is a well-known spice used in many cultures. Many populations use it as a treatment for infant colic. Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum L), however, has been documented to have both neurologic and gastrointestinal toxicities. Recently, concern has been raised regarding the adulteration of Chinese star anise with Japanese star anise. We report 7 cases of adverse neurologic reactions in infants seen with the home administration of star anise tea. In addition, we have found evidence that Chinese star anise has been contaminated with Japanese star anise. More strict federal regulation of the import of star anise into the United States is warranted. Star anise tea should no longer be administered to infants because of its potential danger in this population.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Colic / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Illicium / adverse effects*
  • Illicium / chemistry
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Tea / adverse effects*
  • Tea / chemistry


  • Plant Preparations
  • Tea