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History of Fennel
Ancient Greeks and Indian cultures used fennel for cooking and as part of traditional herbal medicine. The Greeks and Indians traditionally combined fennel with other herbs to make home remedies for the relief of gastrointestinal problems such as acidity and indigestion.
The essential oil of fennel contains approximately 5 percent limonene, 50 to 80 percent anethole and 5 percent fenchone. Additionally, the oil contains trace amounts of a-pinene, estragole, b-pinene, safrole, b-myrcene, camphene and p-cymene. The seeds from the fennel plant also contain fiber and complex carbohydrates. Fennel contains nutrients including vitamin B-3, magnesium, molybdenum, copper, phosphorus, iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, folate and potassium.
As a health supplement, fennel can help to prevent gas, support digestion and function as an expectorant that can help to relieve minor respiratory problems such as mucus. Fennel also contains anti-inflammatory properties when used externally. The leaves from the fennel plant can facilitate the healing of wounds and burns. The root of the fennel plant is diuretic and can help treat urine infections. Fennel also contains a combination of phytonutrients including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin and kaempferol. Fennel also has antioxidant properties and as a dietary fiber, it can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Health supplement manufacturers offer fennel supplements in powdered form. As a supplement, manufacturers recommend taking 1 to 4 g per day of the powdered fennel supplement. The Food and Drug Administration, however, has not established a recommended dose for fennel powder. There are no known side effects of consuming fennel powder supplements, although you should speak with your doctor prior to using fennel powder if you are attempting to treat a specific medical condition.
Fennel is widely employed as a carminative, both in humans and in veterinary medicine (e.g., dogs), to treat flatulence by encouraging the expulsion of intestinal gas. Anethole is responsible for the carminative action.
Mrs. Eencher Herbal states:
On account of its carminative properties, fennel is chiefly used medicinally with purgatives to allay their side effects, and for this purpose forms one of the ingredients of the well-known compound liquorice powder. Fennel water has properties similar to those of anise and dill water: mixed with sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute the domestic ‘gripe water‘ used to correct the flatulence of infants. Volatile oil of fennel has these properties in concentration. Commercial preparations of fennel are widely available as alternative treatment for baby colic. Fennel tea, also employed as a carminative, is made by pouring boiling water on a teaspoonful of bruised fennel seeds.
In the Indian subcontinent, fennel seeds are also eaten raw, sometimes with some sweetener, as they are said to improve eyesight. Ancient Romans regarded fennel as the herb of sight.Root extracts were often used in tonics to clear cloudy eyes. Extracts of fennel seed have been shown in animal studies to have a potential use in the treatment of glaucoma.
Blood and urine
Fennel may be an effective diuretic and a potential drug for treatment of hypertension.
There are historical anecdotes that fennel is a galactagogue,improving the milk supply of a breastfeeding mother. This use, although not supported by direct evidence, is sometimes justified by the fact that fennel is a source of phytoestrogens, which promote growth of breast tissue. However, normal lactation does not involve growth of breast tissue. A single case report of fennel tea ingested by a breastfeeding mother resulted in neurotoxicity for the newborn child.
Syrup prepared from fennel juice was formerly given for chronic coughs. It is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.
- “Herbs That Work: The Scientific Evidence of Their Healing Powers”; David Armstrong
- “The Encyclopedia of Herbs: A Comprehensive Reference to Herbs of Flavor and Fragrance”; Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio; 2009
- “Pocket Guide to Herbal Remedies”; Lane P. Johnson; 2002
- “Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine”; Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno; 1997