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Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare

The hardy Fennel plant is a striking 5 - 7 foot perennial with feathery leaves and tall stalks reaching up to umbels of yellow flowers, which flower during July and August and are followed by the ribbed oval-shaped seeds which are greenish grey in colour and wonderfully aromatic. All parts of the Fennel plant have a delicious aniseed aroma.

Fennel Seeds have been used for centuries as a spice and food preservative, and both the seeds and leaves are widely used in a variety of meat and fish dishes throughout Europe. Fennel is an excellent remedy for wind and indigestion, also very effective at warding off hunger pangs and was a favourite during the Mediaeval times during fasting. The Greeks called the plant marathron, reputedly being derived from a verb meaning "to grow thin" and it have been used as an early slimming aid. To stave off hunger pangs between breakfast and lunch try Fennel seed tea sweetened with honey as a breakfast tea - eat the seeds afterwards for their nutritional value. Alternatively try a cup of Fennel seed tea after a meal to aide digestion and sweeten the breath.

Chewing on the seeds is an effective remedy for bad breath - a mouthwash made from infusing a teaspoon of Fennel seeds to one cup of boiling water (allow to cool and strain before using) makes an effective remedy for gum disease, sore throats and is a welcome ingredient in herbal toothpastes.

The Greeks also used teas made from Fennel to remedy asthma and other respiratory ailments. Fennel contains creosol and alpha-pinene, compounds which are known to help loosen bronchial secretions. Fennel seeds can contain as much as 8,00 parts per miollion of alpha-pinene.

Fennel has compounds that act like the female hormone oestrogen and the seeds have been used in infusions for centuries to promote milk flow in nursing mothers. It is also commonly used as a remedy for colic and painful teething in babies.

Fennel seeds have been used for thousands of years to remedy sore eyes and conjunctivitis and to bring a sparkle to the eyes. Make an infusion just as you would for a cup of tea, leave covered for 10 minutes, strain and when cool enough use as an eyewash, or soak cotton pads in the infusion and place over the eyelids - relax for 10 minutes before removing. The infusion can also be used cold.
Fennel seeds are also a healing, cleansing ingredient for facial steams.

Fennel is a carminative, anti-spasmodic herb. It is also a mild laxative and is especially helpful for constipation caused by tension. Fennel Tea is also a folk remedy for relieving the aches and pains of flu.

In folklore Fennel was used in some regions to decorate houses at Midsummer to keep negative spirits at bay.

! Sweet Fennel essential oil should be used in moderation and with caution !
! The essential oil is not recommended for use by epileptics !
! Because of its estrogenic effect pregnant women should avoid medicinal amounts of the herb and should not use the essential oil !


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