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Food

Gia Mas! Anise Is The Smell of Summer in Greece

‘Gia mas’ in Greek means ‘to our good health.’ ‘Gia mas’ means drinking with friends and family in holidays and vacations. Spring has come in Greece and we dream of ‘gia mas’ and the sound of clinking glasses at a big table. We keep ‘Stay safe and healthy,’ in  mind, but we also dream of a great big ‘reunion summer’ with our loved ones.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a traditional cultivation in Greece. In Springtime, fields are covered with the bright yellow color of anise and you can smell it for miles. It is a plant cultivated as an herb for thousands of years. Nowadays, a big part of Greek production is used for ouzo or tsipouro in many places in Greece. This aromatic plant gives a characteristic smell to n everything – from baked goods to cosmetics. But the smell of anise reminds all Greeks of the famous liqueur, ouzo!

It is not so well known why we use this specific herb, but in addition to what is adds to ouzo’s unique taste anise has a great ability to treat stomachaches, bad digestion, or gassiness. For these conditions, use it as an herbal tea: boil some seeds of anise and drink a cup two times a day. Also, if you combine anise with fennel seeds, you can have a wonderful tea for bronchial sniffles. Sometimes it helps with colic in babies, if you boil some seeds in milk, but first get the advice of your pediatrician. Putting some anise seeds into hot milk may help you with insomnia if you drink it before going to bed. For indigestion and aerophagy, you can make a strong concoction: in a liter of ouzo, add 500 g sugar, 40 g of anise seeds, grounded, and 1 g of cinnamon powder. Put it in a warm place and strain it for 6 weeks. Drink it after a meal.

But be careful. Nature hides powerful substances in those seeds. Do not use it for too long or in big doses. Over a long period of time it can be addictive or harm blood circulation.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD in Agricultural Economics, Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.

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