Fennel, in addition to being a kitchen herb and flavoring, is a carminative and acts to depress the appetite. In ancient times, it was believed that fennel had the power to restore sight.
The volatile oils are responsible for most of the medicinal properties in fennel. The carminative action is primarily explained by stimulation of the gastrointestinal mucous membrane. This in turn stimulated the pancreas to increase its secretions and results in better and quicker digestion of food and less flatulence. The stimulated mucous membrane also results in the production of mucous which acts to isolate intestinal flora from oligosaccharides and other feed stock used by bacteria to produce gas.
The expectorant, diuretic and general tonic (stimulant) properties are also described as irritations which stimulate specific purging of organs. The mechanism of its spasmolytic effect on smooth muscles is probably due to its flavonoid content, and has been shown to be efficacious in studies with experimental animals. Many essential oils in fennel are antimicrobial. Alpha-pinene, for example, found in fennel is a major constituent of turpentine.
Contains aromatic compounds that stimulate the production of digestive fluids, relieve inflammation, are antiseptic, make one breath deeply and more often and increase the flow of urine. It has been used to treat indigestion, dyspepsia, anorexia, colic, flatulence, coughs and colds.
Fennel was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits (seeds) and succulent, edible shoots, and was well known to the ancient herbalists. Pliny has much faith in its medicinal properties, according no less than 22 remedies to it. He observed that serpents eat it “when they cast their old skins, and they sharpen their sight with the juice by rubbing against the plant.” Many of the old herbals uphold this trait of its strengthening effect on the sight.
Its primary use, however, was culinary, and its unique flavor and aroma helped overcome the taste and smell of tainted meats and fish, as well as their impact on the digestive system.
“One good old custom is not yet left off, viz., to boil Fennel with fish, for it consumes the phlegmatic humour which fish most plentifully afford and annoy the body with, though few that use it know wherefore they do it. It benefits this way, because it is an herb of Mercury, and under Virgo, and therefore bears antipathy to Pisces. Fennel expels wind, provokes urine, and eases the pains of the stone, and helps to break it. The leaves or seed boiled in barley water and drunk, are good for nurses, to increase their milk and make it more wholesome for the child. The leaves, or rather the seeds, boiled in water, stayeth the hiccup and taketh away nausea or inclination to sickness. The seeds and the roots much more help to open obstructions of the liver, spleen, and gall, and thereby relives the painful and windy swellings of the spleen, and the yellow jaundice, as also the gout and cramp. The seed is of good use in medicines for shortness of breath and wheezing, by stopping of the lungs. The roots are of most use in physic, drinks and broths, that are taken to cleanse the blood, to open obstructions of the liver, to provoke urine, and amend the ill colour of the face after sickness, and to cause a good habit through the body; both leaves, seeds, and roots thereof, are much used in drink, or broth, to make people more lean that are too fat. A decoction of the leaves and root is good for serpent bites, and to neutralize vegetable poison, as mushrooms, etc.”
King’s American Dispensatory describes it as carminative, stimulant, galactagogue, diuretic, and suggested its use in flatulent colic, and as a corrigent of unpleasant medicines. May be used in amenorrhea and suppressed lactation.
Indicated Usages - Internal:
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Indicated Usages - External:
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One of Fennel’s greatest attributes is its ability to make the unpleasant taste of many herbs more tolerable, particularly to children’s taste buds. Its aromatic quality also gives it some activity as a “catalyst” for other herbs.
On account of its aromatic and carminative properties, Fennel fruit (seed) is used in any purgative and laxative formulas to offset their tendency to intestinal griping. Fennel water has properties similar to those of Anise and Dill water, and mixed with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and simple syrup, these waters constitute the classic ‘Gripe Water,’ used to correct the colic and flatulence in infants.
...Fennel is one of the plants that is said to be disliked by fleas, and the powdered herb has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.
Fennel is most commonly known as a sweet cooking spice, however, both the seed and the leaves are used for their medicinal value. Fennel is a good example of cooking with herbs to flavor food for additional nutrition as well as giving healthy benefits.
Has been used in the following:
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Caution: These are not like the Fennel seeds you may find on a spice rack in a supermarket. This is much fresher and more effective.
Uses: Fennel seeds are a spice. For that reason, we keep it in the kitchen as all other food ingredients. It's mostly used for internal applications: teas, tinctures, capsules, food recipes, etc. Our two favorite uses are in teas and meals. Like many other bulk herbs, we add it to many dishes (salads, meat dishes, soups, stews, etc.) in small amounts for added nutrition and fiber without affecting the flavor. Fennel can be used to benefit men, women (including before, during or after pregnancy, and nursing) and children. It can be used as often as you would like.
Voice of Experience: Like most spices, Fennel seeds are a potent flavor enhancer. Use it often, but a little goes a long way. Chewing on a pinch of Fennel after a meal will not only taste good, it will also aid digestion, and freshen your breath.
Storage: It should be kept in an airtight container and stored in a dark, dry, and cool place. Refrigeration or freezing is not necessary.
Questions?: Check out Frequently Asked Questions.
Posted by Priscilla on 11th Nov 2013
These are flavorful which I attribute to being fresh.
I gave some to my MIL for a fish recipe, she loved it. I plan on sharing more with her, as I have plenty to share.
More Than Alive, has great customer service. I've already placed a few orders with them & will again.