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Fennel Foeniculum vulgare
Parts Used: The fruit. The herb and fresh bulb can be cooked.
Active Compounds: up to 8% volatile oil
(including about 80% antheole, up to 5% estragole, and fenchone), flavonoids
(rutin, quercetin and kaempferol glycosides), coumarins (bergapten,
imperatorin, xanthotoxin and marmesin), sterols, fixed oils and sugars.
Indications: flatulent dyspepsia, anorexia, flatulent colic in children; topical eyewash for conjunctivitis and blepharitis; gargle for pharyngitis
Fennel is primarily used in the treatment of mild, spasmodic gastrointestinal complaints such as flatulence and colic in children, and indigestion, bloating and heartburn in adults. Both the seeds and the root are appetite stimulants and sooth the digestion. The volatile oil has both carminative and spasmolytic actions, and has been shown to increase liver regeneration experimentally.
Fennel is a useful remedy for upper respiratory catarrh and has a calming effect on bronchitis and coughs. It is also diuretic, and is used to treat urinary calculi. The volatile oil is bactericidal and anti-fungal, and has been shown to be effective in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It is also slightly oestrogenic, and is a well-known means of promoting the flow of breast milk.
Externally, the oil relieves muscular and rheumatic pains, and the infusion may be used in a compress to treat conjunctivitis and blepharitis. The seeds have a traditional reputation as an aid to weight loss and longevity.