Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare (in the Apiaceae, previously Umbelliferae, or Parsley family)
Parts used: Seed.
Taste/smell: Aromatic, sweet, spicy.
Dosage: Infusion: crush 1 teaspoon to one tablespoon of seeds per cup of water; or 1:4 dry liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day.
Use: (a) Mild expectorant, (b) Antispasmodic, thought to act on beta 2 receptors which effect vasodilation, intestinal relaxation, uterus relaxation, bronchodilation and bladder relaxation, (c) Anti-inflammatory, (d) Galactagogue, (e) Phytoestrogen, (f) Carminative, (g) Flavoring.
The root is useful as a diuretic when used in crude form or liquid extract but does not have a diuretic effect as a tea. In animal research, the seed was shown to have diuretic, analgesic, antipyretic and antimicrobial activities. It is beneficial for indigestion, gas and coughs.
Fennel contains fixed oil, flavonoids, 2-6% essential oil consisting of 50-70% of the sweet trans-anethole and up to 20% of the bitter and camphoraceous (+)-fenchone. It also contains methylchavicol, anisaldehyde, alpha-pinene, alpha-phellandrene and limonene. The seeds contain a fixed oil, protein, organic acids and flavonoids.
Contraindications: An overdose of the essential oil can cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and pulmonary edema. It is contraindicated in pregnancy due to the emmenagogue effect and phytoestrogen activity unless under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner.