Latin Name: Foeniculum Vulgare
Common Names: Florence fennel or finocchio
Distribution Area: It is native to the shores of the Mediterranean but has widely spread in many parts of the world. It grows in dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.
Botanical information: Root is spindle-shaped, fleshy, wrinkled, 1 cm thick, branched at the top, having several heads. The whole plant is covered with a bluish bloom. Stem is of up to 90-200 cm tall, straight, roundish, thin-ribbed, intensely branched with alternate, green and ovate-triangular leaves on it. Flowers are five-membered. Double umbrellas have 3-20 rays of 3-15 cm width. Petals are widely ovate, yellow, long and about 1 mm wide. The fruit is greenish-brown of ovate-oblong shape, 5-10 mm long and 2-3 mm wide, sweet to taste, reminiscent of anise. The plant blooms in July - August, fructifies in September.
Caloric content of 100 grams of fennel seeds (of which 15.8 g of protein, 14.9 g of fat and 52.3 g of carbohydrates) is 345 kcal or 1 443 kJ.
The plant includes a high amount of essential oil. There is up to 6.5% of it in fruits, and up to 0.5% in leaves. Fennel essential oil has a characteristic aroma and a spicy-sweet taste. Its composition includes: anethole, fenghon, methylhavicol, α-pinene, α-flalandrene, cineole, limonene, terpinolene, citral, bornilacetate, camphor and other substances. Fruits also contain up to 12-18% of fatty oils consisting of petroselin (60%), oleic (22), linoleic (14) and palmitic (4%) acids.
The herb of the plant, in addition, contains a large number of flavonoids, glycosides, ascorbic acid, carotene, B vitamins and various minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, chromium and aluminum.
PHARMACOLOGICAL ACTIONS AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF FENNEL
Fennel seeds have the following actions on the body:
10 useful properties of fennel seeds:
- Helps regulate blood pressure. Fennel seeds are also rich in potassium, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
- Regular use of fennel tea helps to remove toxins and reduces the risk of problems with the genitourinary system. It also stimulates sweating.
- Useful for stomach upset, abdominal distention and constipation. Fennel seeds contain estragole, fenchone and anethole, which have antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Fennel tea is often used for newborn babies to relieve colic and help digestion.
- Reduces symptoms of asthma. Seeds of fennel and their phytonutrients help to clear sinuses. They struggle with bronchitis, sputum congestion and cough, as they have expectorant properties.
- Helps cleanse the blood. Essential oils and fiber in fennel seeds are very useful for washing out toxins from the body, which helps to purify the blood.
- Improves eyesight. Fennel seeds contain vitamin A, which maintains vision.
- Heals acne. If fennel seeds are consumed on a regular basis, they provide the body with valuable minerals such as zinc, calcium and selenium. They are very useful for balancing hormones and maintaining healthy skin.
- Protects against cancer. Seeds also have very powerful properties for the removal of free radicals. This helps protect the body from various types of skin, stomach and breast cancers. Fennel seeds also have a very powerful chemomodulatory effect.
- Increases the secretion of breast milk in nursing mothers. Fennel seeds contain anethole, which is considered phytoestrogen. It mimics the properties of hormone estrogen, which usually participates in the growth of mammary glands and increased milk secretion in women. Estrogen is also responsible for female secondary sexual characteristics.
- Helps to lose weight. Dietary fiber in the fennel is an important factor for losing weight, as it works as a "filler" in the digestive system. As a result, the feeling of satiety increases and appetite decreases, causing the person to feel full longer and lowering the total calorie intake.
Fennel is safe to consume it as a spice, but can cause an allergic reaction if you already have an allergy to carrots or celery.
Do not eat fennel seeds in large quantities. Compounds in fennel can be neurotoxic in high concentrations and can cause hallucinations and convulsions.
It is not recommended for patients with oncological diseases, especially those with estrogen-sensitive cancer. Nevertheless, tea from fennel well removes stomach spasms and vomiting after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid the use of fennel in large quantities, as it can harm the fetus.
Moderate Interaction with Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs):
Some Contraceptive drugs include estrogen. Fennel can have of the same impact as estrogen. However, fennel’s effectiveness is not as strong as the estrogen’s one. Parallel taking of fennel and Contraceptive drugs such as ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others can lessen the power of birth control pills.
Moderate Interaction with Ciprofloxacin (Cipro):
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) is an antibiotic. Fennel can bring down the quantity of ciprofloxacin (Cipro) the organism soaks up. Simultaneous consumption of fennel and ciprofloxacin (Cipro) can reduce the impact of ciprofloxacin (Cipro). To avoid this undesirable effect you should take fennel no less than one hour after ciprofloxacin (Cipro).
Moderate Interaction with Estrogens:
Huge doses of fennel can have the effects of estrogen. However, fennel’s effectiveness isn't as intensive as estrogen pills. Concurrent using of fennel and estrogen pills such as conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others can decline the power of estrogen pills.
Moderate Interaction with Tamoxifen (Nolvadex):
Body hormones influence some types of cancer. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to cure and hinder the estrogen-sensitive cancer. Huge doses of fennel can have the effects of estrogen. Contemporaneous taking of fennel and Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) can lower the efficacy of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take them together.
SIMPLE FENNEL TEA RECIPE
Take a teaspoon of fennel seeds and grind them in a mortar.
Place them in a cup, pour boiling water and leave for 10 minutes.
Strain, add honey, basil leaves, black pepper or other ingredients of your choice.
Enjoy your self-made fennel tea!
Fennel seed tincture will help with many digestive problems like gas, bloating, cramps and even colic.
“Fennel, which is the spice for Wednesdays, the day of averages, of middle-aged people. . . Fennel . . . smelling of changes to come”
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting with a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.