Fennel

Part of the plant used for medicinal purposes: fennel seeds (Foeniculi fructus)

Other name: sweet anise, finocchio, Florentine fennel, Florence fennel.

Description and harvesting

Fennel is a biennial plant that can grow up to 200 cm tall. A stalk with fine feathery leaves grows from a strong root. It has yellow flowers in umbels. It belongs to the carrot family (Apiaceae). In Slovenia, it grows on dry and rocky areas of the southern Primorska region, but is also cultivated in gardens. The flowers bloom from July and October and the plant ripens from September to the end of October. Bulbs are harvested when they are not entirely ripe yet; afterwards, they are dried well and the seeds are collected from the stalks. They are stored protected against light, heat and oxygen and used as soon as possible because the structure of essential oil quickly changes (anethole dimerization).

Constituents and medicinal use

Fennel fruit contains essential oil (4 %), which gives food a fragrant odour. The main ingredients of essential oil are sweet trans-anethole and bitter-spicy fenchone. The other ingredients of essential oil are anisic acid, limonene, camphene, camphor; the plant also contains flavonoids, fatty oil, proteins, sugar and calcium oxalate.
Fennel tea helps to transport the mucosa in the airways and soothe cough. It also promotes gastric movement, increases gastric acid secretion, and shortens the time it takes for food to travel through the digestive tract. This is why it is added to tea blends for constipation relief and improved bowel functioning. It also prevents unhealthy bowel infections by inhibiting bacterial proliferation.
The tea has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle spasm and helps to stop gas, thus it is added to tea blends for babies with gas problems. It can also be used for older children and adults.
It stimulates glandular secretion and mildly increases the secretion of urine. It also increases breastmilk production.
Anethole displays anti-tumour activity and increases the activity of liver enzymes.

Monk Simon Ašič’s product containing fennel seed:

Sources:

1. Galle-Toplak Katja. Zdravilne rastline na Slovenskem. Založba Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 2002. .
2. Kreft S. Sodobna fitoterapija. Slovensko farmacevtsko društvo, Ljubljana, 2013.
3. Saupe J. Naravni zdravnik, Mladinska knjiga, L
4. Karlin M. Slovenska imena naših zdravilnih rastlin. Priloga Farmacevtskega vestnika, št.1-3/XV.

(Foeniculus vulgare L.)

Product containing fennel seed:

Fennel