As a medicinal herb, the seeds, bulbs, and stems of fennel are used to reduce flatulence, aid digestion, regulate appetite, fight infection, increase flow of milk in nursing mothers, and to heal snake bites. The active ingredients in fennel help sooth and protect the small and large intestines. Anyone eating fast food on a regular basis should consume lots of fennel.
Fennel (Feoniculum vulgare or officinale) tastes like anise (which is used in licorice candy). It is a well known culinary herb. Fennel is used to flavor pickles, candies, breads, and liqueurs. It is a perfect seasoning for fish and the bulbs make a delicious vegetable.
Fennel seeds, bulbs, and stems are used to reduce gas and increase milk flow in nursing mothers. Fennel seeds help indigestion and fennel root helps gout. Fennel seeds are good for colic, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and coughs due to colds. Fennel is also used to treat gum disorders, loose teeth, laryngitis, and sore throats. Fennel root decoctions (strong teas) are effective in preventing kidney stones and reducing high uric acid content which makes it good for fighting gout. Fennel is a mild diuretic. It also increases bile production, reduces pain, and cools a fever.
Fennel seed tea is easy to make. Just crush or grind a tablespoon of the seeds, then simmer them in two cups of water for five to ten minutes. Keep the pot covered. Cool, strain, and drink a portion three times a day.
Fennel is rich in volatile oils that have estrogen like qualities. These oils calm smooth muscle spasms. Fennel essential oil is often added to chest rubs along with thyme essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and almond oil. This rub is an effective treatment for coughs. Rub on to throat, chest, and back using gentle circular motions. Do not take essential oils internally!
Fennel is originally from Europe and has been cultivated in Asia and Egypt for thousands of years. In medieval times people chewed fennel seeds to subdue growling stomachs. Fennel infusions were used to tighten wrinkled skin and to bathe tired eyes.
The tasty seeds can be chewed or added to food. The bulbous stems are used like celery. Eat raw, cooked, in sauces, in soups, and in stews. Fennel leaves are good with fish and make a fine sauce for pork chops.
To make fennel sauce, add 5 tablespoons of chopped fennel leaves to 1 cup cream, lightly whipped. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over cooked chops and return to oven until hot.
Fennel is a perennial that does well here in North Georgia. One planting will last for several years if not dug for the roots. The plant reaches 3-7 feet tall and resembles a feathery fern or dill weed. The bright green stems produce flat clusters of golden flowers. Sow seeds directly into the garden or start in pots. Grow in full sun and light, well-drained soil.
One type of fennel is grown for it's large, tasty seeds (herb fennel – Foeniculum vulgare). Another type of fennel is grown for its bulbous root which is used as a vegetable like celery or artichoke (Florence fennel or Finocchio – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
* Do not use fennel tincture or capsules for more than six weeks. Avoid fennel during pregnancy. Do not use high doses of fennel in cases of estrogen dependent cancers.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
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