Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spice : Fennel

Latin Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Alternate Names:
Hinojo, Xiao Hue Xiang (Chinese), Finocchio, Carosella

Parts Used: Seeds (most medicinal), leaves.

Properties: Antispasmodic, Aromatic, Carminative, Diuretic, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Laxative, Sedative, Stimulant, Stomach Tonic.

Internal Uses: Bladder Irritation, Colic, Diabetes, Diarrhea, Fever, Flatulence, Gout, Hiccups, Indigestion, Jaundice, Kidney Stones, Laryngitis, Nausea, Obesity, Rheumatism, Stomachache, Teething, Wheezing

Internal Applications: Tea, Tincture, Capsules.

The seeds are used as an appetite suppressant. It also helps to disperse congestion in the liver. It is a naturally sweet flavor that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Fennel is believed to relax the smooth muscles in the digestive tract.

Topical Uses: Eye Strain, Laryngitis, Wrinkles

Topical Applications: Tea of seeds is used as an eyewash for eyestrain. Poultice herb is used in facial steams, anti-wrinkle creams, perfume, toothpaste and soup. Oil and liniment used for muscular toning. Gargle for hoarseness.

Culinary uses: Leaves are cooked as a vegetable, added to soups or eaten raw in salads. Seeds can flavor fish, pastries, pickles, sauerkraut and tomato sauces. Chewing the seeds after a meal freshens the breath. Used in liqueurs.

Energetics: Pungent, Sweet, Warm, Dry.

Chemical Constituents: Essential Oil (anethole, estragol, fenchone, pinene, limonene), phenolic ether, flavonoids, coumarins, stigmasterol, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, potassium, phosphorus.

Contraindications: Excess use can over-stimulate the nervous system.

Comments: The name fennel is derived from the Latin, foenum, meaning 'hay' due to the finely divided leaves of the fennel plant. Ancient Greek athletes ate Fennel seed so they would gain strength, but not weight. During the Middle Ages the seeds would be chewed to stave off hunger during fasts and during long church sermons. Eating the leaves is a traditional eye, brain and memory tonic.

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