An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.

 

Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare (Foeniculum officinale) (Foeniculum capillaceum) (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce) (Foeniculum dulce) (Anethum foeniculum) - family: Umbelliferace (Carrot Family).

This perennial plant grows up to ten feet high. It has fragrant finely-fringed leaves and in the summer produces clusters (umbels) of yellow flowers. The flowers are followed by aromatic gray-brown seeds. This is one of the ancient herbs that has been used as a food and as a spice by man for thousands of years. Used as protection against witches in Europe and England during the Middle Ages. This is an edible herb; its seeds, roots and greens have been traditionally used as food sources in Europe. Also, tea of crushed seeds has been traditionally used in Europe as a remedy for heartburn, indigestion and intestinal gas. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for bronchitis, coughs and indigestion. Modern American and European folk use of crushed seeds as a remedy for constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and stress. Also, this tea from crushed seeds has been used as a gargle and a mouthwash for bad breath, gum inflammations and sore throats. Under the name Shatapushpa, Fennel has been traditionally used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Note: handling foliage may cause photosensitivity and contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Note: don't eat essential fennel oil: it may disturb the body's nervous system. Note: epileptics and young children should not use fennel oil. The seeds have been traditionally used as a insect repellent, especially for fleas. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1970. Traditional European folk use as a strewing herb. Native to the Mediterranean area. Naturalized in eastern, central and western North America. Naturalized in California. It is grown as an ornamental and as an herb in North America and has at least six cultivars.

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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.