Common names: Fennel, Florence Fennel
Taxonomic name: Foeniculum vulgare
Uses: food, relieves gas, antacid
Area of origin: Mediterranean
Warnings: not to be used during pregnancy
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is one of those common herbs that everyone knows but less know about. It’s a common kitchen herb and probably everyone has some Fennel seeds in their kitchen spice rack.
Fennel has a history of being used by herbalists to settle stomach upsets. The essential oils that it contains settle the membranes and the production of stomach juices. It is especially useful for stomach and intestinal cramps, nausea, bloating and gas pains. It is quite mild and is suited to babies when they get colic. Chewing Fennel seeds is known to reduce hunger pains, that’s probably good for babies too.
Fennel increases gastric secretions, helping the digestive system move things right along and relieve some of the complaints listed above. It helps the liver and pancreas to break down fats and sugars in our system.
Fennel is also a diuretic, it helps move water out of the body. Fat cells contain a lot of water and by breaking them down and removing that water from the body, Fennel has become known as a’slimming’ herb. This may also be why it has been used in cases of anemia and fatigue, better digestion means more energy.
Tradition has it that placing bruised leaves over hardened and old tumors and lumps will help break them down and remove them. In later years, Fennel has been used in recovery from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
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