Habitat & Cultivation:
Fennel originates from the shores of the Mediterranean but also grows through parts of temperate Europe. Since Italians have colonized, Fennel grows throughout the world particularly in dry soil and near the coast or river banks.
Stalk, bulb and leaves. Fennel can grow up to 6 and a half feet high. It looks quite a bit like dill, upright, cylindrical, smooth stalks and stems, is bright green, and has very fine, feathery leaves, becoming threadlike at the end. The flowers are umbels - so like umbrellas - and are bright and golden colored. The “fruits” or fennel seeds are greenish yellow, oblong, sometimes elliptical, and have ribs down the sides, and are about 3-5mm long.
Indications for fennel include:
Supporting milk supply in lactating individuals
Stomach and intestine remedy for gas/ bloating
Helps calm coughs/ bronchitis
Used externally, fennel can help with muscle pain
Can also be used externally on the eyes to help treat conjunctivitis and inflamed eyelids
There is a contraindication for those with a sensitivity to Umbelliferae species (Mills & Bones, 2005). For pregnancy, fennel, is a B3 category (Mills & Bones, 2005). The traditional use is to enhance milk supply.
Phenols, phenolic glycosides and volatile aroma compounds such as trans-anethole, estragole and fenchone have been reported as the major phytoconstituents of this species.
Dense, Sweet, Heavy, Slightly cooling, Stable, and Bold.
Fennel can be somewhat amphoteric in regards to heavy/light. It helps counter depression by its uplifting qualities but is also grounding and helpful when there is too much lightness. This is why we see that it is neutral for all three doshas. VPK=
Fenugreek is considered pregnancy category B3, which indicates that there is no evidence of harmful effects on fetuses with “limited use,” but that there is some evidence of harm in animal studies. Romm (2010) claims that it should not be taken during pregnancy in “medicinal” amounts and that it is considered to be in safety class 2b, and is not to be used in pregnancy due to its abortifacient properties.
That said, Mills & Bone (2005) note that this may be a largely theoretical concern, or at least one more likely to be relevant at very high (excessive) doses, but also cite historical associations between fenugreek and inducing abortion. It is, however, considered safe during lactation. Mills & Bone (2005) assign it lactation category C, though recommend caution if thyroid levels are low, which can be a postpartum concern.
I added fennel to some homemade chicken and gnocchi soup and it turned out delicious. The flavor was sweet and dominant in the soup. Next time I will not add so much. I enjoyed it, but my family didn't favor it as much.
Grieve, M. (n.d.) Fennel. Retrieved online from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/fennel01.html
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. London, England: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone
Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)