Fennel: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Fennel: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Fennel  was originally native to the Mediterranean regions. Today the plant is cultivated worldwide, especially in Europe, parts of Africa, South America and Asia. The drug is imported from China, Egypt, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

Fennel: what is used in herbal medicine?

In herbal medicine, the dried fruits (Foeniculi fructus) and the essential oil from them (Foeniculi aetheroleum) are used.

Fennel – typical characteristics

Fennel is a perennial plant that grows up to 2 m tall with erect shoots. The thin, filiform leaves are heavily slit. The small yellowish flowers are in large double umbels with mostly unequal rays. The plant also bears small, characteristically ribbed fruits.

A distinction is made between the subspecies of donkey or pepper fennel (Foeniculum ssp. piperitum) and garden fennel (Foeniculum ssp. vulgare).

Fennel for medicinal use

Garden fennel, of which two varieties are known, is used medicinally: bitter fennel (var. vulgare) and sweet fennel (var. dulce).

Fennel fruits are about 3-10 mm long and 3 mm wide and yellowish-green to yellowish-brown in colour. Frequently broken-off stylus remains hang at the upper end. Five protruding, straight ribs can be seen on each fruit. In general, the fruits of the sweet fennel are much lighter.

Smell and taste of fennel

Bitter fennel smells a little more spicy than sweet fennel. The  taste  of bitter fennel is aromatic and spicy, slightly hot and bittersweet, while sweet fennel tastes only slightly spicy and sweet. Due to the pleasant taste of fennel, the plant has proven itself primarily in pediatrics.

Fennel – application

Fennel is suitable for the treatment of various digestive disorders (dyspeptic disorders). These include mild cramps in the gastrointestinal tract,  flatulence , a feeling of fullness and loss of appetite. Experiences have also shown positive effects in the treatment of indigestion with  diarrhea  in infants.

Application of fennel

Another major area of ​​application for fennel is inflammation of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract (catarrh). Children with such symptoms and chronic cough can also be given fennel syrup or fennel honey.

Traditionally, fennel is used for better digestive function and to stimulate appetite.

Fennel in folk medicine

The official use of fennel fruits corresponds in the broadest sense to the use in folk medicine. As early as the 15th century, the positive effect of the fruit on indigestion, stomach pressure and breathing difficulties was known.

Today, fennel is also used as a milk-promoting agent for reduced milk production and externally for inflammation of the conjunctiva and the edge of the eyelid, functional visual disorders and signs of fatigue in the eyes.

Fennel as a homeopathic remedy

The dried, ripe fennel fruits are used homeopathically  in anthroposophic therapy.

ingredients of fennel 

Fennel fruits contain at least 4% essential oil with the main components trans-anethole and fenchone. The proportion of trans-anethole is higher in sweet fennel oil than in bitter fennel oil, and the reverse is the case with fenchone. Anethole is also used in the cosmetics and spirits industry as a flavoring (e.g. in ouzo and absinthe). Furthermore, estragole, fatty oil, proteins and  flavonoids occur  as ingredients in fennel fruits.

Fennel and its indications

Indications where fennel can be used to help are:

  • indigestion
  • indigestion
  • gas
  • bloating
  • stomach cramps
  • loss of appetite
  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract
  • chronic cough
  • catarrh

Fennel – dosage

Fennel  is offered alone or in combination with other plants as a tea drug; Fennel is also commercially available in filter bags or as instant tea. The fruit and oil are offered in the form of  honey , syrup, candy and throat lozenges. Fennel oil also exists in drop form for  colds  and digestive problems.

Average daily dose when using fennel

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 5-7 g of the fennel fruits, 10-20 g of the syrup or honey and 5-7.5 g of compound fennel tinctures. For digestive problems, 2-5 drops of fennel oil can be taken after each meal.

Fennel: Preparation of fennel tea

To prepare a fennel tea, 2-5 g of the fruit (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 2.5 g) are crushed immediately before use and poured over with boiling water. After leaving everything covered for 10-15 minutes, the mixture can be strained through a tea strainer.

Fennel – contraindications and warnings

Fennel fruits should be kept dry and protected from light in glass or tin containers. The following contraindications apply:

  • There are no contraindications for fennel tea or preparations comparable in terms of oil content, such as fennel honey. However, other preparations should not be taken during  pregnancy  .
  • Pure fennel oil should not be used on small children or infants.
  • Diabetics should pay attention to the sugar content of fennel syrup or honey.
  • Fennel fruits should be crushed immediately before use, as this is the only way the essential oil can pass from the secretion spaces into the extraction medium (water, ethanol).

Fennel: do not take it over a long period of time

The Federal Institute for Consumer Health Protection advises caution when taking fennel preparations over a longer period of time. This is based on experiments with pure, isolated estragole, in which mutagenic effects were found.

However, the estragol content that reaches the body at the maximum daily doses specified is so low that these results are usually not relevant for humans. If you take fennel preparations over a longer period of time, you should still consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Fennel – synonyms

German plant name: fennel
German synonyms of the plant: Common fennel, herb fennel, lady fennel, bread seed, Enis, Femis, Fenikl, Fenis, Fenkel, Finchel, Fennekel, Fennichl, Fenncol
Latin plant name: Common fennel
Latin synonyms of the plant: Fennel vulgare MILL., Common fennel, Azoric fennel, Capillaceum fennel, Sweet fennel, Fennel fennel, Fennel officinale, Fennel panmorium, Fennel sativum, Dill fennel, Dill fennel, Dill rupestre, Ligusticum divaricatum, Ligusticum fennel, My fennel, Ozodia feniculacea, Selenium hay
German drug name: fennel fruits
German synonyms of the drug: Bitter fennel or sweet fennel
Latin drug name: Fennel fruit
Latin synonyms of the drug: German Fennel seed (major); Fennel bitter fruit (Bitterer Fenchel) bzw. Sweet fennel fruit (Süßer Fenchel)
English name: Fennel fruit (Droge); Fennel, Fennels, Bitter fennel, Common fennel, Florence fennel, French fennel, Garden fennel, Roman fennel, Sweet fennel, Wild fennel Finnochio, Sweet cumin (Pflanze)
Plant family Latin: Apiacea
Plant family German: doldenblütler


Fennel – effect

Fennel oil, and in particular the anethole, has flatulence-relieving properties and promotes the mobility of the gastrointestinal tract. Higher concentrations produce antispasmodic effects, which are probably due to inhibition of calcium mobilization in the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. When the calcium concentration in the cells drops, the intestinal muscles relax and the spasm is relieved.

Other effects of fennel

Anethole also accelerates the beating frequency of the so-called ciliated epithelium in the bronchi, small cell extensions that are responsible for the removal of mucus and foreign substances. This loosens the mucus and makes it easier to cough up.

Furthermore, anethole and fenchone are said to help increase gastric juice secretion, stimulate appetite and have an antimicrobial effect. Anethole is toxic in very high concentrations.

Fennel Side Effects

In individual cases, allergic reactions of the skin and respiratory tract were observed. People with a known  allergy  to celery can also have an allergic reaction to fennel fruit.

There are currently no known interactions with other agents.


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