Fennel / Fenouil
Fennel / Fenouil
Foeniculum officinale (Umbelliferae) Fennel is also known as garden fennel, green fennel, large fennel, sweet cumin, sweet fennel and wild fennel.
Parts used: The seed. There is a history of using the root for medicinal purposes, but this is not common in modern usage of the plant.
Habitat: A hardy perennial, fennel is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. The plant can grow from between 5 to 6 feet tall. It can be found growing wild in most temperate parts of Europe. Not widely found in North America, it has naturalized to some extent in the western United States. The plant likes to enjoy full sun and somewhat dry conditions. It will do best in well-drained soil. When crushed the leaves give off an aroma similar to that of anise or licorice. The bulb of the plant is used as a food source.
Properties: Antibacterial, antiemetic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-lithic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant (stimulating), galactagogue, hepatic and rubefacient.
Uses: Despite usually being thought of as an herb for digestion, fennel is surprisingly well rounded and can play an important role in addressing conditions of the urinary tract, respiratory system and the female reproductive system. Fennel can be used for IBS, nausea, gas, flatulence and colic. It can be used for wheezing, asthma, spasmodic coughing and bronchitis. The seed is an excellent galactagogue, promoting the production of milk in nursing mothers. It has the added benefit that many of the components of the essential oil will be passed to baby via the milk and will help to reduce gas in the baby. With its action on the urinary tract, fennel seed can assist with gout, kidney and bladder stones, incontinence and urinary tract infection. An infusion makes and excellent eyewash for conjunctivitis or other eye infections and is also a great mouthwash for gingivitis. It can be used to stimulate menstruation and the essential oil (in a carrier oil) makes an excellent rub for sore and aching muscles.
Preparation / Dosage: Tincture, decoction or long infusion.
Safety Considerations: As a seed or oil it should not be used during pregnancy as it may have a stimulating action on the uterus. Consumption of fennel bulb as a food is not a problem.