The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Translate:

Fennel

Scientific Names

Fennel

  • Foeniculum vulgaris L.
  • Umbelliferae
  • Apiaceae
  • Carrot family

Common Names

  • Hsiao-hui-hsiang
  • Large fennel
  • Shatapushpa (Sanskrit name)
  • Shih-lo (Chinese name)
  • Sweet fennel
  • Tzu-mo-lo
  • Wild fennel
  • Xiao-hue-xiang (Chinese name)

Back to Top


Parts Usually Used

Seeds, berries, fruits, roots, and stems.
Back to Top


Fennel

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A tall herb of the umbel family, with feathery leaves and yellow flowers.

A stout, strongly scented perennial plant, with erect stems and blue-green leaves. The striated stems are solid when young, becoming hollow with age. The yellow flowers grow in compound, terminal umbels, each with 10-30 stalks. Aniseed-scented, egg-shaped fruits follow the flowers.

Its light green, feathery foliage and aromatic seeds are used to flavor foods and medicines. Stems reach 4-6 feet and flowers appear July to October. Needs full sun; partial shade in warm climates. Zones 6-9.

Seeds can be planted in autumn to ensure early germination in the spring, otherwise plant seeds in spring in rich, well-drained soil but not clay. Sow lightly in a bed or in drills six inches apart. Keep the bed moist for 2 weeks or until leaves appear. Germination takes place within 2 weeks. Thin to 6 inches apart. Do not overwater after that. Do not plant fennel near dill, coriander, bush beans, or tomatoes. Although it has never been proven, fennel is said to have a damaging effect on bush beans, caraway, tomatoes, and kohlrabi, and is harmed by coriander and wormwood. Plant away from garden; most plants dislike fennel.

Collect seeds in summer and let the plant die back naturally in winter. Harvest seeds when mature and brown, but before they drop; check for aphids. Morning hours for harvest are best to avoid unnecessary seed losses.

Varieties of fennel: F. vulgare Rubrum (bronze fennel) has beautiful, dark reddish bronze foliage. It makes a striking accent in gardens.

F. vulgare azoricum (Florence fennel or finacchio; sometimes listed as var. dulce, incorrectly called sweet anise, and sold as anise in supermarkets) has thickened leaf bases that form a bulbous base called the bulb, which is eaten raw or cooked. Finocchio grows like a stalk of celery and is eaten raw or boiled as a vegetable. Florence fennel needs cool weather to develop its bulb, so sow seeds in midsummer for a fall harvest. Plants grown from a spring sowing may bolt in warm summer weather before forming the bulb. Plants benefit from frequent fertilization and watering. Cut off flower heads to encourage development of a thicker base. Once the bulb is about egg size, it can be hilled up with soil to blanch. It will be ready to harvest in a few weeks.
Back to Top


Where Found

Found growing as a weed in waste places in much of the United States, in southeastern Canada and in southern British Columbia. Also cultivated for commercial demands in the warmer parts of Europe and in many parts of Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Native to Mediterranean Europe where it is found growing wild.
Back to Top


Medicinal Properties

Stomachic, carminative (relieves gas), pectoral (relieves chest congestion and cough), diuretic, aromatic, antispasmodic, expectorant, mild expectorant, anti-inflammatory, stimulan
Back to Top


Biochemical Information

Anethole, calcium, camphene, cymene, chlorine, dipentene, fenchone, 7-hydrozycoumaarin, volatile oils, oleic acid, petroselinic acid, phellandrene, pinene, limonene, stigmasterol, sulfur, and vitamins A and C.
Back to Top


Legends, Myths and Stories

Fennel is one of nine Anglo-Saxon herbs known for secret powers. In ancient days, a bunch of fennel hung over a cottage door on Midsummer’s Eve was said to prevent the effects of witchcraft. Today, if witches are not a problem, try nibbling on the herb’s seeds, as Roman women did centuries ago, to help depress the appetite. Women in Roman times believed fennel prevented obesity.

The ancients believed eating the fennel herb and seeds imparted courage, strength, and conveyed longevity. In Imperial Roman times the physicians were in high regard of fennel for medicinal purposes.

The ancient Greeks and Anglo-Saxons snitched on their fast days by nibbling a little fennel, which reduced the appetite.

The ancients believed that myopic reptiles ate fennel to improve their vision and so used it themselves for this purpose. It is still prescribed as an eye-wash. Also, for failing eyesight, a tea was made from fennel leaves to be used as a compress on swollen eyes.

Fennel is considered one of the oldest medicinal plants and culinary herbs. It is fairly certain that fennel was in use over 4000 years ago. It is mentioned in the famous Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian collection of medical writings made around 1500 BC. There it is referred to principally as a remedy for flatulence. Later authors of herbals, such as Pliny (AD 23-79), also describe fennel primarily as an aid to digestion. In the Middle Ages, it was praised for coughs.

Fennel was well known to the ancient Chinese, Hindus, and Egyptians as a harmless medicine and spice. Italians are fond of the seeds as seasoning.

A warm tea of the seeds, slightly sweetened with honey, is a useful carminative for restless babies. A stronger tea, or the oil on a lump of sugar, is soothing for older children or adults.

The seed or the oil is combined with other flavors in the making of liqueurs. Fennel is the principle ingredient of a cordial known as Fenouillette.

In early American times of the 17th century, every garden had its little patch of fennel “for keeping old women awake in church.” A sprig of fennel was the theological smelling bottle of the tender
sex, not infrequently of the men, who found themselves too strongly
tempted to take a nap, would sometimes borrow a sprig of fennel.

Back to Top


Uses

An old reliable household remedy, good for flavoring foods and medicines. The tea makes an excellent eye wash. Fennel is a thoroughly tried remedy for gas, acid stomach or dyspepsia, gout, cramps, colic, cystitis, and spasms. Ground fennel sprinkled on food will prevent gas in the stomach and bowels. For colic in children, the herb should be steeped (weak for infants) and given in small doses every half hour until the infant or child is relieved. Nursing mothers will find fennel helpful in stimulating lactation, in a warm tea. Fennel seed, ground and made into a tea is given for snake bites, fever, insect bites, dog bites, hiccoughs, flatulence, backache, toothache, obesity, blood purifier, or food poisoning. Good for jaundice when the liver is obstructed or to improve appetite. Excellent for obesity. Increases the flow of urine and increases menstrual flow. Fennel oil may be rubbed over painful joints to relieve pain or rheumatism, and may be added to gargles for hoarseness and sore throat and cough. The shoots of this herb have a laxative effect and may be consumed raw or as a tisane.

A sweet herb used as an appetite suppressant. Promotes function of the spleen, liver, and kidneys. Relieves colon disorders, and good for the cancer patient after chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Fennel leaves may be cooked in sauce for oily fish, chicken and egg dishes or used in salads. When cooked with salmon or mackerel, it has been claimed to help eliminate oiliness. Eaten fresh, fennel has a licorice-like flavor similar to anise. Chop the leaves and toss them into a salad, or sprinkle over grilled seafood. The seeds add vigorous flavor to breads, sausages, curries, and even apple pie. With a mixture of fennel seed and dill seed season cucumber salad and a variety of lettuce salads.

Fennel also yields a yellow or brown dye for wool, and fennel oil is used commercially in perfumes, soaps, and liquors. Sugar-coated seeds are used as after-dinner mints in Indian restaurants.

Fennel seeds are used whole or ground to flavor bread, cakes, pastries, soups, stews, sweet pickles, fish and sauerkraut.

The fennel stalk, stripped of its skin and dressed in vinegar and pepper, makes a tasty celery-like salad that is popular in the plant’s native Mediterranean area. The Italians call the dish cartucci and claim it calms and aids sleep.
Back to Top


Formulas or Dosages

Gather the root in the spring for medicinal purposes:

Infusion: steep 1 tbsp. freshly crushed seeds in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey to taste.

Decoction: boil 1/2 tsp. seed in water. Strain. Use as an eye-wash, 3 times per day.

Extract: mix 10 to 20 drops in water. Use warm water and 1 tsp. honey for a soothing drink daily.

Milk decoction: boil 1 tsp. seed in 1/2 cup milk for 5 to 10 minutes. Take for colic.

Tincture: take 10 to 30 drops in water, as required.

Fennel-honey: add 1 to 3 drops fennel oil to 1 tbsp. honey and mix. Take a teaspoon at a time. A natural cough remedy.
Back to Top


Nutrient Content

Fennel nutrients

Back to Top


How Sold

Capsules or powder form. Take 1 or 2 capsules per day.
Back to Top


Warning

Fennel belongs to the carrot family, many members of which are poisonous and resemble this medicinal plant. There seems to be confusion as to which family fennel belongs. Some say the parsley family and some say the carrot family. Either way, care should be taken in identifying the correct plant before use.

Fennel or its seed oil may cause contact dermatitis. Ingestion of oil may cause vomiting, seizures, and pulmonary edema.

Fennel is a uterine stimulant, avoid during pregnancy. Small amounts used in cooking are safe.
Back to Top


Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Fennel As a Medicinal Herb

University of Maryland Medical Center: Infantile Colic

Health Library: Fennel

World’s Healthiest Foods: Fennel

Back to Top


Bibliography

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

Back to Top

Share