Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel, botanical name Foeniculum vulgare, is an herb belonging to the Foeniculum genus and is a member of the Apiaceae family, earlier known as Umbelliferae. This is a hardy and perennial herb that bears feathery leaves and yellowish blooms. The fennel is native to the regions around the Mediterranean, but has now been extensively naturalized in many regions of the world, particularly on arid soils close to sea coast as well as on banks of rivers. Fennel is an extremely scented herb that has several therapeutic as well as culinary uses.

There are basically two types of fennel in the Umbelliferae family - while one possesses a bitter flavour, the other has a sweet flavour. Only the type of fennel that has a sweet or sugary flavour is used for aromatherapy purposes. This variety of the herb is also used as an aperitif or appetizer and is used before taking meals. The sweet variety of fennel is cultivated in many regions of the glob, including the Mediterranean, Asia, especially India, America and Europe. This variety of fennel possesses a sugary scent that reminds one of aniseed and has been used in cooking traditionally. As sweet fennel possesses diuretic properties and has the aptitude to influence the hormones, the essential oil obtained from the herb is helpful in reducing obesity. In addition, fennel essential oil is also effective in healing digestive problems. It is especially used in gripe water meant for treating digestive problems in infants and small babies.

Generally, sweet fennel essential oil is obtained from the crushed seeds of the plant and subsequently passed through a process known as steam distillation. It is one of the significant oils that are used in aromatherapy. On the other hand, the bitter fennel essential oil is extracted from the seeds of the bitter variety of the species or the herb itself. The essential oil obtained from bitter fennel is not used in aromatherapy. Here is a word of caution. The sweet fennel essential oil is very potent and, hence, it should always be used in diluted dosages. Moreover, the sweet fennel oil should never be used by people enduring epilepsy or pregnant women.

As mentioned before, sweet fennel essential oil is fantastic scented oil that is extracted from the crushed seed of this plant. This particular species of fennel grows up to a height of about six feet and is biennial, sometime also perennial herbs. Fennel plants bear feather-like leaves and clusters of golden yellow blooms at the top. This herb has been used by people since long for various therapeutic purposes, including inducing nerve and vigour as well as to ensure long life. It is interesting to note that fennel also possesses some 'magical' properties and they include neutralizing poisons and protection against evil spirits or omens.

It is said that fennel essential oil is also useful in facilitating the digestive process. According to tradition, Indians offer the seeds of the plant to people after their meals. This oil may also be used for treating indigestion. Taking a drop of the oil orally results in a pleasant sensation to the digestive tract. In addition, it is known that fennel essential oil has the aptitude to invigorate production of estrogen and, at the same time, increase the secretion of breast milk in lactating mothers. This is one reason why this oil should not be used by patients suffering from breast cancer and undergoing treatment with estrogens. At the same time, fennel essential oil also stimulates the digestive and circulatory systems. This essential oil is an effective natural cleanser and helps to disintegrate as well as flush out toxins and other waste products from the body, thereby cleansing the tissues. To obtain the utmost benefits, fennel essential oil should be used after diluting it with any suitable carrier oil.

Fennel essential oil possesses a pleasing fragrance something akin to that of aniseed and is a perfect remedy for skin disorders. Especially, this oil is appropriate for massaging on areas afflicted by cellulite. Although this oil is scarcely used for breast massage in women, when it is done it not only helps in firming the breast, but also enhances secretion of breast milk among nursing mothers.

In addition, fennel essential oil is also beneficial for the digestive system, particularly when an individual is suffering from extreme flatulence or intestinal gas formation. If you chew fennel following a scented meal, it facilitates in avoiding foul breath.

This herb as well as the essential oil extracted from its seeds is unbelievably popular for its ability to treat an assortment of digestive problems. Even in the present day, there are numerous people who use fennel essential oil to avail relief from numerous medical problems. Some of the specific medical problems for which this oil is used even to this day include:

  • Anorexia (malnutrition);
  • Colic (stomach ache);
  • Constipation;
  • Dyspepsia (upset stomach);
  • Flatulence or intestinal gas;
  • Hiccups;
  • Vomiting.

This herb has an exceptional property that can be obtained only by vaporizing the essential oil extracted from its seeds. Fennel essential oil has the aptitude to enhance appetite and hunger when it is added to a vaporizer. This particular aspect of the oil may perhaps be beneficial for people who have been struggling to prevail over anorexia (malnutrition) as well as other problems associated with foods. Surprisingly enough, findings of a number of another researches hint that the fennel essential oil may also help in treating obesity as it has been found that this oils helps people to feel fuller and, hence, eat less.

As aforesaid, ingestion of fennel essential oil also works as a diuretic in the body and increases urine outflow, thereby also helping in elimination toxic wastes from the body. In addition, the diuretic property of fennel essential oil helps to provide relief to people who may be enduring some kind of discomfort of the digestive tract. Moreover, the diuretic action of fennel also helps the body to temporarily dispose of bloating or water retention by the body.

Besides, helping people to overcome or treat their physical conditions, fennel essential oil also offers unbelievable benefits that not only inhibit the aging process, but also boosts aesthetic feelings. It has been found that regular application of fennel oil to the skin helps to keep it clean from dusts, sweat and microbes and, at the same time, acts as a balancing agent for the complexion. Especially, people enduring old-age symptom like wrinkles and crow's feet may find fennel useful in making their skin smoother as it gets rids of the signs of aging and makes them look younger. Besides these properties, fennel also has the aptitude to enhance one's looks and also heal trivial cuts, scratches and bruises.

In order to achieve benefits for the digestive system, overall health as well as beautification, people may add a few drops of fennel essential oil to their bath water, as it would ensure all the things mentioned here. Additionally, the fennel oil also may  be simple used as a massage oil to alleviate muscle and joint aches as well as tone up the skin.

Presently, a number of beauty products, particularly lotions and creams, enclose fennel essential oil. Using these types of creams and lotions regularly may help decrease the lifelessness of an individual's complexion and, at the same time, improve the general look of the skin. However, the best part of using lotions and creams containing fennel essential oil is that it aids in diminishing the signs of cellulite since this oil has the potential to support the process to restore the skin.

In addition, use of fennel essential oil facilitates improving the general condition of one's health or physical welfare since this oil facilitates toning as well as cleansing the liver and the spleen. One may use a few drops of fennel essential oil if he or she has taken in excessive food or liquid, as this oil has the aptitude to generally provide relief from any kind of stomach discomfort or side effects caused by consumption of too much food or drink.

In addition, fennel is a beneficial herb for women too. While the use of this herb helps to alleviate menstrual problems and pains, nursing mothers who have been struggling to breast feed their infants due to insufficient breast milk secretion, may use fennel to enhance secretion of breast milk. Using the herb not only increases the quantity of breast milk production, but is also said to enhance the quality of the milk. In addition, the enhanced breast milk production owing to the use of fennel is also safe for infants, while it acts as a natural boost.

Aromatherapy uses

The essential oil extracted from crushed fennel seeds has several therapeutic uses. Here are a few of them:

  • Fennel essential oil is useful in detoxification of the system. In other words, it helps to flush out the toxic and waste substances from our body.
  • Using fennel essential oil in aromatherapy helps to provide one with nerve and vigour when they require it most.
  • The fennel essential oil is very effective cleansing oil and when applied regularly to the face has the aptitude to get rid of wrinkles and keep the skin toned and youthful.
  • This oil works as a stimulant or tonic for the kidneys, liver and the spleen. In addition, it is used in aromatherapy to treat problems related to constipation, flatulence and cellulite.

Internal use

Apart from topical application, the essential oil extracted from fennel seeds may also be ingested to cure certain medical problems. Here is a brief list of the specific conditions that may be treated by using this essential oil internally.

  • When used internally, fennel essential oil works as an antimicrobial and antispasmodic agent.
  • Internal use of this essential oil helps to treat fevers and also functions as a diuretic helping the body to get rid of toxic and waste substance through increased urine outflow.
  • Roots of the fennel herb are useful in curing urinary problems.
  • It is also a galactagogue herb that helps to enhance secretion of breast milk in nursing mothers.
  • The essential oil is useful for women as it is effective in treating menstrual disorders.
  • Fennel essential oil provides relief from dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. In addition, the oil is also helpful in treating problems related to intestines.
  • Fresh juice obtained from the herb is also useful for children and adults as it is effective in curing catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane resulting in sore throat) as well as chronic coughs.
  • Fennel essential oil is also used as a mouthwash to cure sore throats and gum problems.
  • Massaging fennel essential oil on the chest also helps in treating bronchial congestions.
  • Administration of fennel oil is also beneficial in treating skin problems as well as conjunctivitis.

General properties

  • digestive
  • detoxifying
  • eliminative
  • tonic

Blends well with

General uses


While fennel essential oil possesses a number of therapeutic and culinary properties, it needs to be used with caution. Since using high concentrations of this oil may result in irritation, it is advisable that you should use a watered down form of fennel essential oil. People enduring epilepsy should never use this oil. Similarly, this oil should never be administered to children below the age of six years. In addition, the essential oil extracted from crushed fennel seeds should never be used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Special care should be taken when this oil is used to treat female cancer patients.

Fennel essential oil has been found to enclose high amounts of trans-anethole (an aromatic compound found in abundance in nature) and this is the reason why people with estrogens related cancers and also pregnant women, women enduring endometriosis should keep away from using this essential oil. In fact, pregnant women should always consult their physician or medical expert before using this essential oil.

The essential oil extracted from the crushed seeds of sweet fennel is very potent and should never be used in excess or large doses. Using the sweet fennel oil is likely to produce a sedative effect. It is important to note that bitter fennel or the variety of the herb having a bitter flavour is never used in aromatherapy and, therefore, ought not to be used for therapeutic purposes at all, especially for treating skin conditions.

It may be noted that both varieties of fennel essential oil - sweet and bitter - are available in the market. It may be reminded again that individuals using the sweet fennel essential oil should never use it in excess or large amounts. Using the sweet fennel essential oil in excess may result in stimulating tranquilizing effects.


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