Fennel is an aromatic, yellowish green, biennial or perennial herb. The leaves of the fennel are digestive, appetizing and stimulating. Oil of fennel, distilled from the dry seeds is aromatic, carminative and antispasmodic. It is used in various carminative preparations.
Funnel consist of moisture 6.3 percent, fat 10 percent, protein 9.5 percent, minerals 13.4 percent, fiber 18.5 percent and carbohydrates 42.3 percent. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, sodium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C.
The composition of oil varies widely according to the variety and origin. Indian fennel oil contains substantial amount of anethole and fenchone. It possesses a sweet taste. The fatty acids of the oil are palmitic acid and petroselinic acid.
Botanical Name: Fenniculum vulgare
Indian Name: Saunf
Below are some of the medicinal properties of funnel:
- Fennel is highly beneficial in digestive disorders. It may be given in small quantities to help young children digest carbohydrates. An infusion prepared by boiling a tablespoon of fennel seeds in 100 ml of water for half an hour, is helpful in treating indigestion, biliousness, flatulence, constipation and atonic dyspepsia. Chewing its seeds after meals prevents foul breath, indigestion, constipation and vomiting.
- It is a valuable herb for treating colic, for helping the baby to release gas and relieve tummy. It may be used in combination with other herbs like peppermint and crushed caraway seeds or alone. A teaspoon of the herbs is boiled in a cup of water, and allowed to steep in the water for about 20 minutes. This is strained and allowed to cool. This tea, given to the baby in his feed bottle, helps cure colic. Not more than a teaspoon or two should be given at a time.
- Leaves of fennel are helpful in respiratory disorders like asthma and bronchitis. The juice may be given in the treatment of such conditions. Eating fennel seeds with figs is also a good medicine for cough, bronchitis and lung abscesses.
- It is believed that fennel benefits the eyes. Herbalists today recommend bathing the weakened, sore or inflamed eyes with fennel tea. Regular application of the leaf juice boiled with honey is said to cure conjunctivitis.
- Fennel seeds promote menstruation and regulate monthly periods. An infusion of the seeds can be given in painful menstruation and other menstrual irregularities.