Fennel is an herb with sweet, aromatic seeds and its flavour is similar to anise. It has medicinal values and has been used in various cultures for different culinary and medicinal uses. In Ayurveda it has been called Mishreya meaning an herb that gets mixed with properties of other drugs. Due to its strong aroma it has also been called as Shalini. In ancient China it was used as remedy for snake bite.
Since ages fennel has been used as carminative and for weight loss. It also acts as an aphrodisiac and promotes menstruation. It also has anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic and anti-oxidant properties. It also aids in GIT motility as it acts on the smooth muscles of stomach and intestine. Taken post meals it aids in digestion, prevents gas and flatulence. Its property to work on smooth muscles also makes it quite useful in the treatment of asthma and bronchial spasms. It also promotes increased milk production in nursing mothers and prevents the infant from windy colic.
Fennel maintains the peristaltic movement of GIT and also acts on smooth muscles of stomach and intestine. Fennel seeds are powdered and taken with water at night act as a laxative. Fennel is also rich in roughage which helps clear bowels along with maintaining tonicity of intestinal muscles. Fennel is also useful in abdominal pain, diarrhoea, Irritable bowel syndrome and other intestinal diseases.
Fennel is not just a flavoring and aromatic compound but also has number of therapeutic uses which are as follows.
- Fever: Polydipsia and burning sensation due to fever is cured by fennel, honey and coriander infusion.
- Flatulence in children: This condition is treated by arka of fennel.
- Pain abdomen: In abdominal pain enema is given with decoction.
- Burning micturition: Fennel ground with water if taken in burning micturition provides relief.
- Cough: In dry cough and mouth disorders fennel kept in mouth gives relief.
- Headache: An ointment of seed paste of Mishreya is used.
- Coliky pain: Fennel decreases colicky pain in diarrhoea.
- Dysmenorrhoea: It has also been found to be useful in primary dysmenorrhoea.
- Hypertension: It is an effective diuretic and hence lowers blood pressure.
- Laxative: It is a potent carminative and mild laxative in human and animals as well.
- Lowers LDL: Since fennel has high fibre content it also lowers cholesterol.
- Antioxidant: Being a rich source of antioxidants it is also seen to possess anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Hormone stabilization: Fennel maintains and regulates hormonal levels in females and hence has been found useful in treatment of menstrual problems. It is useful in post-menopausal problems as well.
Fennel consumed in large doses can be dangerous as it may cause difficulty breathing, increased palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and various neural problems.
- Parts used: Fruits, seeds oil, roots
- Fruit powder- 3-6 grams
- Oil - 1-10 drops
- Arka - 10-50 ml
- Root powder - 3-6 grams
- Formulation: Most common mixed formulation
- Sarpushpadi powder
- Panch sakar powder
- Hindi name: Saunf (सौंफ)
- Sanskrit name: Mishreya
- Guna (गुण): Laghu (लघु), snigdha (स्निग्ध)
- Ras (रस): Madhur (मधुर ), katu (कटु), tikhat (तिक्त)
- Vipaka (विपाक): madhur (मधुर)
- Virya (वीर्य): sita (शीत)
Doshkarm (pharmacological action): Vattapittashamak
- Deepan, pachan (agnimandhayahar)
- Trishnanigrahan, dahprashaman
- Carminative (vatanulomak)
- Artavajanan, sukrahar, satnya janna, mutral, javarghan.
Modern scientific explanation
- English name: Sweet fennel
- Botanical name: Foeniculum vulgare
Constituents: Essential oil, coriandrol, anethole, fenchone and fixed oil.
- Anethole present in fennel is responsible for carminative and laxative action of fennel, therefore used with purgatives to allay abdominal cramps during motions.
- Vitamin C present in fennel acts as an antioxidant.
- It is known to be source of phytoestrogen which promotes growth of breast tissues.