Fennel, Sweet Fennel,
region of Europe
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a herb we reach for often in our “Natural Medicine Cabinet“. Fennel originated in south-east Aisa but is now grown across the globe. The whole plant is edible, but the seeds are used medicinally primarily for ailments of the stomach.
The seeds are slightly curved and vary from grey to green in color, becoming brown when dried.
Fennel is best known for its tonic (normalizing), antispasmodic, and cleansing action on the digestive system. It cleanses the liver, spleen, billiary bladder and calms digestive issues like indigestion, constipation, cramps and spasms, colic, nausea, flatulence and hiccoughs. (2)
It also can be calming to the respiratory system easing bronchitis and coughs. It has a more gentle licorice like flavor that helps disguise other more bitter cough remedies and nasty tasting preparations. This makes it good to use for reluctant children or husbands.
It also works well with the reproductive system where its estrogen like and antispasmodic properties can help relieve cramps and spasms in the uterus. It can help with irregular mensuration, PMS, and water retention. It can also help to correct menopausal mood swings due to fluctuating hormones.
The hormone producing benefits of fennel help boost the production in milk of nursing mothers.
Fennel is known to be beneficial to oily skin, to treat tired or sore eyes, reduce inflammation in the eye lids, and has been said to slow or decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
Fennel Essential Oil is Antiparasitic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic diuretic and expectorant.
Historically the EO was used for snake bites, to stave off hunger pains, to tone the female reproductive system, for earache, eye problems, insect bites, kidney complaints, lung infections and to expel worms.
French medicinal uses of EO(1): Cystitis, sluggish digestion, flatulence, gout, intestinal parasites, intestinal spasms, increase lactation, menopause problems, premenopause, urinary stones, vomiting.
Other possible uses(1): Fennel oil may be used for colic, stimulating the cardiovascular system, constipation, digestion (supports the liver), balancing hormones, nausea, obesity, PMS and stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.
Aromatic Influence: It increases and influences longevity, courage and purification.
*CAUTION* Fennel is phototoxic, which means it can cause redness and sensitivity to light if applied to skin before going out into the sun. DO NOT USE ESSENTIAL OIL DURING PREGNANCY due to the estrogen like effects it can have on the body, it could cause uterine contractions if taken in large enough doses. It is also a diuretic and could cause dehydration so drink plenty of water. Do not use if you suffer from EPILEPSY.
At our house we use fennel in my tummy tamer tea, which I have been using to heal my angry stomach and leaky gut.
I have it in my more milk tea recipe for milk production and digestive ease for both baby and me.
We use the essential oil topically, diluted with coconut oil, on our tummys when we have digestive upset. I get a teaspoon of coconut oil and 1 drop of fennel and ginger EO’s and rub it clock wise around the belly button. This helps ease indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation. *BE WARE* If your child is constipated and you rub their belly with fennel oil you might have a very large diaper to contend with in about an hour.
Because of its many great uses for breast-feeding, tummy taming, hormone regulating, cleansing, and tea flavoring I think fennel is a “must have” herb for any family’s herbal medicine chest.
(1) Modern Essentials A contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils: 3rd Edition
(2) Natural Health: The Complete Home Guide to Herbs & Oils by Nerys Purchon
How have you used fennel?
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