Fennel has a long history as a medicinal and culinary herb. It was cultivated by the Ancient Romans for its leaves and succulent, edible shoots. The natural historian Pliny had great faith in its medicinal properties, stating that it had no fewer than 22 remedial uses, including prolonging life, giving strength and courage, helping sight and losing weight. In medieval times, the plant was used to ward off evil. Fennel has also been used as an aphrodisiac.
Fennel’s dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make remedies.
Volatile oil, mainly anethole, the polymers which act as phytoestrogens, as well potassium, vitamin C, fibre, folic acid, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium, molybdenum and manganese.
Fennel is used to:
- Treat digestive problems such as heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, spastic colon, and colic in infants.
- The fibre in fennel helps eliminate toxins from the intestine and reduce cholesterol.
- Support kidney and bladder function. Fennel has an anti-inflammatory action on these organs that helps reduce cystitis and gout flare-ups.
- Support the hormone-related functions of the body.
- Improve lactation, ease menstrual-related problems and assist with menopause discomfort.
- Relieve coughs and sore throats.
- The vitamin C in the bulb of the plant is antibacterial and supports the immune system.
- Fennel seed and oil are approved by the German Commission E for the short-term treatment of dyspepsia, flatulence and upper respiratory catarrh. *
Fennel is a hardy perennial with hair-fine leaves and yellow flowers. Reaching about one metre tall, it is considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean. It grows easily in areas that have moderate frost and a fairly high rainfall. Plant seed in light, sandy soil in full sun or semi-shade and keep it well-watered.
* Blumenthal, Mark, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. , American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas, 1998.
- By Howcheng (Own work)