(NaturalNews) There are various species of fennel; the most widely used species is sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Similar to dill and bitter fennel, sweet fennel is a perennial or biennial herb which grows to a height of around 6 feet. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, sweet fennel is now cultivated in many parts of the world. It is used for essential oil, for herbal medicines and in cooking and baking.
Fennel contains vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, iron and riboflavin. It also has a mild laxative effect. Chewing fennel seeds after a meal helps with indigestion and/or constipation.
Fennel essential oil
Sweet fennel essential oil is diuretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and a decongestant. The oil is used to treat a variety of ailments such as digestive complaints, flatulence, gout, pain during menstruation, cellulite and fungal infections such as athlete's foot.
Sweet fennel essential oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or jojoba oil before applying. It blends well with other essential oils such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, lavender, peppermint, rose, juniper, lemon and orange.
Natural remedies using fennel seeds
Fennel is said to help in cases of heat stroke. Soak a handful of seeds in water overnight. Strain the water and add a pinch of salt before drinking.
Colicky babies can benefit from a mild fennel infusion. Boil a liter of water and add a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes and allow to cool. Strain and give a little of the mixture when the baby is in pain.
Nursing mothers can increase milk production by adding 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds to a half liter of boiling water. Allow to cool, strain and add raw honey to taste. Two to three cups per day of this tea can safely be taken by nursing mothers.
Fennel acts as a natural breath-freshener and is also a good mouthwash for gum disease or infections.
Try fennel tea to help clear mucus from the lungs and calm hacking coughs.
Fennel can rejuvenate dull skin. Boil a tablespoon of seeds in a liter of water. Use as a steam facial for cleansing.
This herb is familiar in cooking. Typically used to compliment fish dishes, it is delicious sliced raw and presented with olive oil, salt and lemon wedges. The bulbs can be marinated, braised or roasted.
Caution: Fennel is narcotic in large doses and should not be used during pregnancy. The essential oil should not be used by nursing mothers.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies, C. Shealy, Published by Harper Colling, 2002 Edition, page 121
Fleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.