Herb Library: Natural Herbs and Herbal Supplements Directory: Fennel





This fact sheet provides basic information about Fennel. Fennel is an herb native to southern Europe and Asia Minor. It is also cultivated in the United States, Great Britain, and temperate areas of Eurasia. All parts of the plant are aromatic.

According to Greek legend, man received knowledge from Mount Olympus in the form of a fiery coal enclosed in a stalk of fennel. The herb was known to the ancient Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Greek civilizations, and the Roman scholar Pliny (AD 61-113) recommended it for improving eyesight. The name foeniculum is from the Latin word for fragrant hay. Fennel was in great demand during the Middle Ages. Wealthy people routinely added the seed to fish and vegetable dishes, while the poor reserved its use for fasting days as an appetite suppressant. The plant was introduced to North America by Spanish priests, and the English brought it to their early settlements in Virginia.

Common Names

Common, sweet, or Bitter Fennel, Carosella, Florence Fennel, Finocchio, Garden Fennel, Large Fennel, Wild Fennel

Latin Names

Foeniculum vulgare

What It Is Used For

  • Fennel has been used as a flavoring, a scent, an insect repellent, as well as an herbal remedy for poisoning and GI conditions.
  • It has also been used as a stimulant to promote lactation and menstruation.
  • When combined, peppermint, fennel, caraway, and wormwood appear to have a soothing effect on the intestines. This combination of herbs may also be useful when used in connection with: indigestion, heartburn, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • It is a purported antidote to poisonous herbs, mushrooms, and snakebites.
  • Tea made from crushed fennel seeds has been used as an eyewash.
  • Powdered fennel is said to drive fleas away from kennels and stables.

How It Is Used

  • Fennel oil: 0.1 to 0.6 milliliters (about 2 to 12 drops)
  • Fennel seed: 5 to 7 grams (about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoonfuls)
  • All parts of the plant have been used for flavorings, the stalks have been eaten as a vegetable, and the seeds served as a traditional carminative.

What the Science Says

  • There is a lack of clinical evidence to support the use of fennel for any indication.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • This herb is not suggested for small children and should not be used for a prolonged period of time.
  • Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.


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