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Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel, Sweet Fennel,
Wild Fennel

FAMILY: Apiaceae

ORIGIN: Mediterranean
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.

You can get fennel seed here, and a very high quality fennel essential oil here.

(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?

Disclaimer General Health disclosure affiliate links


About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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4 Responses to Fennel: An Herbal Primer

  1. Anette M says:

    I love fennel, always have. Even as a kid. Especially fennel tea and salad. It is very common to rub some fennel oil on a colicky baby’y tummy and to drink fennel tea for digestion help. People even give newborns fennel tea (specially made for babies). Thanks for more info on fennel in your article. I didn’t know a lot of those things.

    • Amanda says:

      I made an oil for my babys tummy with ginger and fennel EO’s mixed into almond oil. It worked great! I love the stuff. Thanks for the info! It is sad that we don’t really think to just go dig up a plant, cut it in half, and rub the juice on people any more when really it is a pretty effective strategy.

  2. […] are currently being done to see how basil and fennel essential oils will affect breast milk production in a hospital setting with lactation […]

  3. Jelena says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Would you be able to tell me how to use fennel oil for menopause, please . Thank you

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