Home Remedies - The power of fennel - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

Fennel, is a culinary herb and medicinal plant. Both the bulb and the seeds have a liquorice-like taste. Yet, the flavour of the seeds is more potent due to their powerful essential oils...

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The Romans were very fond of the young shoots, eating both for the flavor as well as in the belief that it would control obesity. Even the original Greek name for fennel was derived from the word "maraino," meaning to grow thin.

This belief was held even as late as the herbalist Culpepper's time when he wrote of fennel that "all parts of the plant are much used in drink or broth to make people lean that are too fat". There may be some backing to that belief since the seeds are known to be a slight appetite suppressant. The Puritans would chew the seeds during periods of holiday fasting to stave off hunger. 

Fennel was considered one of the nine sacred herbs to treat disease during Medieval Times. It was also thought to fight off evil spirits, which is why it was jammed into keyholes and hung on doorways, especially on Midsummer's Eve.

Anethole, a major component of fennel essential oil, may be behind the appetite-suppressing qualities of the plant.

Like most of the herbs, fennel is native to Southern Europe. It likes the hot, full day sun. It does grow best in a moist soil, but can thrive in rocky, dry, soils. In fact, once established, fennel needs very little water all summer. Its height, up to 7' tall, makes it a decorative fence line plant.

Other uses of fennel;

  • Fennel is an effective treatment for respiratory congestion and is a common ingredient in cough remedies
  • Fennel may assist some people to lose weight.
  • Fennel can give relief from hiccups. 
  • A tea made from fennel helps to stimulate the flow of breast milk.
  • It is sometimes added to baby formula to aid digestion
  • It nourishes the pancreas and therefore aiding pancreatic insufficiency
  • Aids post-menopausal symptoms such as tender breasts


How to use fennel

A tea made with a few fresh sprigs of fennel or a level teaspoon of seeds will relieve indigestion.

An infusion of the seeds is an excellent carminative, especially for babies. Use 1 teaspoon (5ml) of infusion for colic and gas.

Chew the seeds as a breath freshener!


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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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