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Star anise of different origins evaluated as starting material for production of Tamiflu

  • Star anise of different origins evaluated as starting material for production of Tamiflu

    by Market Insider

    Monday, 05 Dec. 2016

    Star anise fruit (Illicium verum), known as ‘ba jiao hui xiang’ in Chinese and as ‘bất giác hồi hương’ in Vietnamese, is a product of southeast Asian biodiversity occurring in southern provinces of the People’s Republic of China (Guangdong, Yunnan, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) and in neighbouring Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

    While star anise fruit is used as an herbal drug in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formulations, it also serves as the starting raw material for obtaining shikimic acid, a key active ingredient of the prescription medicine Tamiflu® (F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel, Switzerland), used to treat the flu (influenza).

    Reportedly due to a shortage of the drug, a study has been carried out aiming to determine if star anise fruits of different geographical origins contain more or less shikimic acid in order to scale up plantation of selected varieties with higher content.

    For analysis, the Guangxi Academy of Forestry took samples of star anise fruit from eleven different forest farms in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In Guangxi, star anise is mainly distributed in forests around Longzhou County, Ningming County, Pingxiang City, Baise City, Fangcheng District, Yulin City, Hechi City, and Cangwu County.

    The results showed that the shikimic acid content varied greatly from 6.28% (Yulin Forest Farm) up to 11.57% (Taiping Town, Wuming County). However, the harvest dates and times were not uniform (some differed by two months) and this could be a factor impacting shikimic acid content. Besides time of year when harvested, other factors may impact the shikimic acid level such as geographical conditions (altitude, latitude), climatic conditions, soil nutrient status, and forest farming practices.

    The next step will be to better control the sampling to occur over a shorter duration and to analyse the geographical and climatic conditions and other factors, for example measuring differences in star anise fruits harvested at the same location but at different points in time to better understand the main factors affecting shikimic acid content in star anise fruit.


    1. 周兴 [Zhoug Xing]. 八角茴香含量评测报告 [Evaluation Report on the Content of Illicium verum Hook]. 29 November 2016:

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