Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

Foeniculum vulgare
fennel seed
  • Common Names
  • Fennel Seed , Sweet Fennel, Fenkel
  • Botanical Name
  • Foeniculum vulgare
  • Family

Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Fennel Seed

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How to Use: Fennel

Fennel acts as an excellent digestive aid to relieve abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery, the seeds add a lovely anise flavor to fish and other dishes. If you expect to eat a vegetable that you have trouble digesting, like cabbage, try adding fennel seeds to your recipe. 335

Fennel seeds (as well as anise) contain creosol and alpha-pinene, chemicals that help to loosen congestion and make coughs more productive. Fennel also calms the dry, hacking cough of bronchitis. 1662

The Greek name for fennel was marathon was derived from "maraino", to grow thin, reflecting the widely held belief that fennel affected weight loss, a belief that was echoed by William Coles, in "Nature's Paradise" (1650)

both the seeds, leaves and root of Garden Fennel are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldiness and cause them to grow more gaunt and lank.
Fennel's ancient reputation as a weight loss aid still holds up today. Drinking a cup of fennel seed tea 15 minutes before eating a heavy meal seems to take the edge off your appetite. Fennel also tunes up digestion, helping to turn food into energy instead of fat.

Women who are going through menopause or are experiencing menstrual problems may benefit from the estrogenic properties of fennel. It has a balancing effect on the female reproductive system and increases the flow of body energy. Extracts of fennel have estrogenic properties that may benefit women going through the hormonal imbalances caused by menopause.1661

Preparation Methods & Dosage : Fennel is well known to cooks, all parts of the plant are edible. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery, and the seeds add a lovely anise flavor to fish and other dishes. Fennel seeds are most often taken as a tea, the essential oil is used in massage oils and diffusers.

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Fennel Remedies

In the Kitchen: All parts of fennel are edible, stalks, leaves and bulbs. Fresh leaves can be used as flavoring in soups and sauces. The bulbs can be used in Italian dishes. Fennel seeds make an excellent tea.

Ayurvedic Medicine ayurvedic medicinea Fennel increases the digestive fire without aggravating pitta. Its energy is in dispute some say warming, others cooling, most likely neutral. It calms the nerves, is the premier carminative herb for adults, and promotes mental clarity. 603

Fennel Side Effects: Fennel has virtually no side effects when used as a food, or as a seed tea. The essential oil should be avoided in pregnant and nursing mothers.

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Plant Description

  • Flowers:Bright, yellow flowers in large, flat terminal umbels
  • Plant Class:Perennial/Biennial herb/vegetable 4 to 5 feet height
  • Leaves:Stalks are smooth and bright green, leaves are feathery
  • Fruit: Small light-colored seeds, anise flavored.
  • Preferred Habitat:Dry and sunny
  • Flowering Season:July and August
  • Distribution:Native to the Mediterranean, cultivated worldwide

Regional Traditions :European *

How to Grow Fennel

Fennel will thrive anywhere, but needs its own space to grow, apart from the main garden. Fennel plants release a chemical, (anethole) that impairs the growth of some other plants, so it should not be grown very close to beans, tomatoes or cabbage family plants. Fennel grows well in its own big container in a rich soil. It is easily propagated by seeds, sown early in the year, and is frost resistant. You can direct sow, or transplant, about a foot or so apart. Fennel thrives in dry and sunny places that remind it of it's mediterranean home. Harvest the leaves anytime, and the bulbs when large enough. Keep flower heads cut to insure a supply of green leaves, or let flower heads mature to harvest seeds when ripe.

books citedWorks Cited
  1. Adele Dawson. "Herbs: Partners in Life" Healing Arts Press, (2000) Fennel is useful to relieve abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. One of the best digestive aids, the seeds can be used in cooking, or made into a tasty licorice tea. ,
  2. A.W. Smith. "A Gardener's Handbook of Plant Names:" Dover, (1997) The Greeks used teas made from anise and fennel for asthma and other respiratory ailments. They both contain creosol and alpha-pinene, which help to loosen bronchial secretions. ,
  3. . "Estrogenic activity of isolated compounds and essential oils of Pimpinella species from Turkey, evaluated using a recombinant yeast screen, Planta Med. 2004 Aug;70(8):728-35. Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Anadolu University, Iskisehir, Turkey, (2004): Several plants and plant-derived pure compounds, designated as phytoestrogens, have been reported to cause estrogenic effects. They have been used for alleviation of menopausal symptoms, prevention of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. ,
  4. Maud Grieve. "A Modern Herbal" Harcourt, (1931) It is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered Fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables. The plant gives off ozone most readily. ,
  5. Maud Grieve. "A Modern Herbal" Harcourt, (1931) Syrup prepared from Fennel juice was formerly given for chronic coughs. Fennel helps clear mucus from the lungs