Fennel as a natural remedy: properties, benefits and uses

Fennel as a natural remedy: properties, benefits and uses

Fennel is a natural remedy useful in case of digestive problems, menstrual pains and colds. Here's when and how to use it


  • What's this
  • Properties and benefits
  • How to use it
  • How to use essential oil
  • Contraindications and side effects

What's this

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a spontaneous herb that belongs to the Umbrelliferae or Apiaceae family. It is a plant that can reach two meters in height, with leaves divided into filiform strips and equipped with particularly developed sheaths. The flowers are small, yellow-green, aromatic and grouped in umbels, a feature common to all plants of the same family. The fruits are small, intensely perfumed cylindrical diachenes.

Fennel grows spontaneously throughout the Mediterranean region and is grown for food and phytotherapeutic use. The horticultural variety is the azoricum and the part of the plant we consume is represented by the leaf sheaths collected in the first year of life. The amara and dulcis varieties, bitter fennel and sweet fennel respectively, are instead harvested or cultivated for the properties of the fruits, used in herbal medicine as such or used to extract essential oil.

Properties and benefits

Fennel fruits, improperly called fennel seeds, are rich in essential oil, flavonoids and organic acids. These compounds give fennel properties:

  • antiseptics
  • antioxidants
  • aromatic
  • stimulants
  • expectorants
  • digestive
  • carminative
  • spasmolytic
  • galactogogues

The intake of fennel acts on gastrointestinal motility and secretions, promoting digestion and reducing spasms. For this, it is very useful in case of slow and difficult digestion, abdominal bloating, bloating and flatulence and to reduce the side effects of some laxatives such as senna. Thanks to its spasmolytic properties, fennel is also traditionally used to counteract menstrual pain, which is caused by contractions of the uterus (dysmenorrhea). Folk medicine also uses it to stimulate lactation and improve the flavor of milk, usually in association with anise, galega and fenugreek.

Fennel is also beneficial for the respiratory system because it promotes the ciliary movement of the bronchial mucosa and helps reduce the viscosity of secretions, improving the elimination of excess mucus in case of colds, such as colds and coughs.

How to use it

Fennel can be used in herbal tea or in the form of dry extract, essential oil or mother tincture. The herbal tea is prepared by placing about 4 grams of bruised fruits in boiling water, leaving it to infuse for fifteen minutes with the lid, while the mother tincture is administered diluted in water from one to three times a day (40 drops). Fennel can also be used in pediatrics, but in this case the dosages should be halved.

How to use essential oil

As for the essential oil, it can be taken orally in adults during main meals to promote digestive processes and in the case of intestinal parasites, but only for short periods, in small quantities and under medical supervision. The topical use of fennel essential oil instead involves diluting the essence in vegetable oil (1-3 drops for each tablespoon of olive, sweet almond or sunflower oil) but massaging into the skin.

Massages with fennel essential oil on the abdomen are useful for treating digestive problems, bloated intestines, bloating and flatulence; in these cases, the essence of fennel can also be associated with those of coriander and anise. When massaged on the belly, it helps in case of heavy and painful menstruation. The essential oil of fennel massaged on the back and chest (always diluted in a vegetable oil), on the other hand, is useful for relieving coughs, colds and respiratory problems. The massage oil prepared with essential oil of fennel, juniper, cypress and geranium is then used to tone the skin, streamline critical points and fight water retention and cellulite.

Finally, widespread in the environment, fennel essential oil has a tonic and stimulating action on the nervous system, promotes concentration and memory and helps keep mosquitoes away.

Contraindications and side effects

The intake of fennel is contraindicated in case of allergies to one or more components while in the absence of hypersensitivity it rarely gives side effects at therapeutic doses and can in fact also be used to treat ailments of children, pregnant women and during breastfeeding. At high doses and for prolonged intakes over time, however, fennel can interact with some drugs and hormonal therapies.

Greater attention should be paid to essential oil which, taken orally, can be toxic and carcinogenic. The essential oil of fennel applied to the skin can then cause irritation; fennel essence is also photosensitizing and therefore should not be applied to the skin before exposure to the sun. In any case, it is advisable not to use the essential oil beyond two weeks and to avoid its administration in children, pregnant and breastfeeding.

Read also

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  • Spices as a remedy for bad smells: here are which ones to use
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  • Passionflower: properties, benefits and uses

Tag: Natural remedies

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