Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) grows easily in South African soil, and both the leaves and the bulbs can be enjoyed. The herb's scent is reminiscent of licorice and anise.
There's also some evidence that fennel seeds may have healing properties.
Helps increase milk production in lactating mothers
Carminative (stops formation of intestinal gas and helps expel existing gas)
Soothes colic in babies
Powdered fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables. The seeds can also be chewed as a natural breath freshener.
Fennel oil contains estragole - a substance that is believed to mimic female oestrogen.
Fennel is available in capsules, compress, decoction, oil, powder, seeds and tincture.
A decoction is made using one to two teaspoons of bruised seeds per cup of water.
Do not take fennel for longer than two weeks without consulting a doctor.
Avoid taking pure fennel oil per mouth as even small amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and respiratory problems.
Pregnant women should avoid fennel seeds and oil.
(Information source: The American Pharmaceutical Association's Practical Guide to Natural Medicines by Andrea Peirce, published by William Morrow and Company, 1999).
- (Pic: Carsten Niehaus)
- (updated by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, August 2010)