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Fennel - Uses and Benefits

This member of the celery family is a well-known herb native to southern Europe and Western Asia, but it was known in ancient China as well as in India, Egypt, and Greece.

Some herbal references distinguish between sweet and bitter fennel. Although the entire plant is edible, only the fruits and their essential oil are used medicinally. The fruits are collected in August and September when they are ripe and then dried. Fennel has been used for centuries to enhance breast size and to promote milk production in new mothers. The herb's history is similar to the story of fenugreek above. Fennel is also used to treat amenorrhea, angina, asthma, heartburn, high blood pressure and to increase sexual desire in women. It is rich in the phyto-nutrients that increase breast size and is a great addition to the program.

The plant has a rather stiff, erect, branching stem, bears deeply-cut greyish-green leaves and terminal greyishblue flowers, followed by odd, toothed seedvessels, filled with small somewhat compressed seeds, usually three-cornered, with two sides flat and one convex, black or brown externally, white and oleaginous within, of a strong, agreeable aromatic odour, like that of nutmegs, and a spicy, pungent taste.

Uses of fennel:

The important uses of fennel are as:-

  • 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 of infusion for colic and gas.
  • Fennel is an effective treatment for respiratory congestion and is a common ingredient in cough remedies.
  • An infusion makes a soothing eyewash.
  • In traditional herbal medicine, fennel was used to treat flatulence, encourage production of breast milk, improve sex drive, increase urination, and bring on menstrual bleeding.
  • In Europe, in addition to digestive complaints, fennel is recommended for colds and congestion.
  • In laboratory studies, fennel oil increased movement of the stomach but counteracted spasms of smooth muscle in the gut. Perhaps this activity explains its reputation in treating flatulence.
  • The seeds can be seeped in hot water to make an interesting tea, flavored somewhere between licorice and anise. The tea also  has been used historically as an aid to infant colic, settling the upset stomach.
  • Fennel oil has been used as a natural cough remedy. The fennel oil will help to expel mucous accumulations as well.

Side effects of Fennel:

In rare cases fennel can cause allergic reactions of the skin and respiratory tract. Anyone with an estrogen-dependent cancer should avoid fennel in large quantities until the significance of its estrogen-like activity is clarified.

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