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Foeniculum vulgareFoeniculum vulgare (Umbelliferae)

FENNEL, SWEET FENNEL, FENKEL

 

The fruit from this herb has long been valued by cooks and herbalists, both East and west, to prevent and treat indigestion, wind, and colic.

 

The fine hair-like leaves of this plant led the Romans to call it Foeniculum, meaning little hay. Highly respected as both a food and a medicine in ancient Rome and Greece, it was thought to have magical powers in medieval times and was hung over doors to keep out witches. Native to southern Europe, it is now naturalized all over the world and is widely cultivated for medicinal use. It is a hardy perennial with a blue-green ribbed stem, feathery leaves, and umbrella-like clusters of yellow flowers in mid- to late summer, followed by greyish oblong fruit that taste of anise.

 

PARTS USED

Fruit.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Volatile oil containing anethole, fenchone, limonene, and apiole; flavonoids, including rutin, kaempferol, and quercetin; coumarins, including bergapten.

 

ACTIONS

Stimulates the stomach; relieves wind and colic; anti-inflammatory; stimulates the appetite; stimulates milk production.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given for indigestion associated with flatulence and colic (particularly in children), inflammation of the eyes or mouth, and to stimulate milk production in women who are breast-feeding. Chinese medicine prescribes fennel for food poisoning, hernias, abdominal pain, and indigestion.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, dried fruit, tincture.

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