Fennel is a tall perennial herb from family Apiaceae. Its biological name is Foeniculum vulgare. Other popular names include Florence fennel, Finocchio and Carosella.
It looks like wild tall herb of a size up to 2,5 m. Fennel has deep green hollow stem, feather-like thing and long leaves, its little yellow flowers are set in nice umbels, that will turn into the dark brown seeds. Fennel has a strong odor that reminds that of Anise, but stronger and sweeter. You can smell it near the herb, or if you touch the leaves or flowers, or crush the seeds.
Fennel comes from Southern Europe, but now is spread all over the world in areas of similar climate: southern Asia, Canada, United States, Australia, Iran, and some other countries.
Fennel prefers hot, full day sun. It can grow in moist or dry soil (it needs some water only in the beginning of its growth, after it Fennel can tolerate long absence of water). You can see Fennel along roadsides, near coasts of see or banks of river, in the fields or somebody’s gardens.
For medical purposes root, leaves and seeds are used (in some cases stem is used as well). The whole plant is used in culinary purposes due to its strong aroma. It adds something unique and piquant to every dish (especially salads, vegetables and seafood).
The most known and popular Fennel products include Fennel liquid seed extract, Fennel oil, dried Fennel and Fennel in capsules. Fennel in tinctures is also available on the market. Fennel Tea and Fennel water is made from fresh or dried leaves (or seeds) and are very effective herbal remedies. Syrup is also used in herbal medicine. For culinary purposes fresh or dried leaves are used, dried seeds are used mainly for liquid dishes (soups, sauces, etc.).
Fennel is known as antispasmodic, antimicrobial, diuretic and stimulant. It has very useful constituents that make the herb effective in treating various ailments. They smooth muscles in the body, ease spasms, kill germs, and act as a phytoestrogen (thus simulating the effects of estrogen) in the body.
Fennel is used in numerous conditions and ailments.
- For skin – it is applied to skin in different skin disorders.
- For eyes – in case of conjunctivitis and blepharitis; Fennel water or tea cleanse the eyes very well (you can apply it to the eye in tampon or just drop the liquid into your eye in direction from ear to nose).
- For mouth and throat infection and viruses – Fennel mouthwash is used for gum disease, Fennel tea is used in case of sore throats.
- In case of coughs and bronchitis – Fennel oil can be applied to the chest or you can drink Fennel tea (tree times a day of more, if it is a combined herb tea). Oil is made from the crushed seeds, tea – from crushed seeds (or dried leaves) and hot water. Tea is very effective in loosing phlegm in the bronchial passages, thus easing symptoms of bronchitis and coughs. For that reason tea is rather popular in treating chronic coughs in children.
- In case of problems in digestive system – Fennel relieves digestive tract cramping and spasms. In Ukraine and Russia it is extremely famous for treating infant colic and other digestive upsets. In other countries it is successfully used to treat indigestion, gas pains, and irritable bowel syndrome as well. As an antispasmodic it relaxes other smooth muscles in the body as well (Fennel is used to smooth muscles in uterus in pregnant women).
- For urinary disorders the root is used.
- For lactation – Fennel is generally used for any kind of hormonal imbalance in women, not only as a milk production stimulant. As an herb it makes Fennel very important in breastfeeding period, when no medications are advisable (look up Teas for Breastfeeding). Among other benefits are stimulating menstruation (it will not actually bring menstruation, but also will ease the PMS symptoms) and libido enhancer (using Fennel in different available products may eventually lead to the increased sex drive).
- As a diuretic it is also used in different health diet plans as it helps to loose weight – mainly due to the ability of suppressing appetite and reducing water retention.
Fennel is also commonly used for aromatherapy; it is believed that the aroma of the herb will promote strength and gives energy to your body. Fennel is also added to different medicines as a flavor.