FENNEL – an ancient panacea for body, mind and spirit

Fennel with its Latin name Foeniculum vulgare belongs to the Apiaceae (former: “Umbelliferae”) plant family. The name is derived as a diminutive of the latin word “fenum” meaning “hay” which certainly has to do with the grass like feathery appearance of the leaves. Originally, in Europe, the plant was only native to the Mediterranean area preferring a sunny and wind-protected environment. But since the Middle Ages Fennel has also been cultivated in Northern parts of Europe.

Fennel

Going back in history we find that the herb has a long medicinal reputation. Fennel was believed to give longevity, courage and strength. During medieval times people used Fennel to ward off evil spirits and magic spells created by witches. It also was famous for strengthening eyesight. The Roman philosopher and writer Plinius (ca. 23-79 PC) reports that snakes ate Fennel to clear their eyesight after having cast off their skin. And indeed, Fennel has successfully been used in case of visual impairment and ocular inflammation. It is the silicea content causing the healing effect.

It is well-known that Fennel was held in high esteem in the monastic gar-dens of Europe over centuries. Already the famous healer abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) described the effects of Fennel in her herbal recipes: ”However, if it is eaten, it makes man merry and gives him pleasant warmth, good sweat and good digestion.“ Also Chinese Medicine has used it for longtime as a powerful remedy against all kinds of health problems. Historical evidence shows that Fennel is one of the oldest vegetables, spices and medicinal plants used by man. Fennel seeds are also an important spice in the modern European kitchen. The herb is rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium and has few calories if the tubers are prepared as vegetable.

More on the Healing power of Fennel

The shape of the plant and the yellow colour of the flowers manifest Fennel’s relationship to light and warmth. The fine-grained sheets are well suited to absorb light and warmth. Thus the plentiful medicinal effects of the herb are not surprising and makes us understand that Fennel was considered a panacea. Its airy outer appearance already signifies its healing energies with regard to the respiratory track. The fragrance can be described as mild, warming, earthy-peppery and sweetish-spicy – similar to Anise. Apart from mainly seeds producing species there are also those that develop tubers near the ground being very tasty as a vegetable. Responsible for taste, smell and healing powers of Fennel are especially the seeds containing the essential oils. To meet the increased demand of Fennel today the herb and seeds are largely imported today from China, Egypt etc. Hungary is the largest producer, also of the essential oil, in Europe.

The major chemical compounds of Fennel oil are:

a-pinene, myrcene, fenchone, trans-anethole, methyl-chavicol, limonene, 1,8-cineole and anise aldehyde. The herb also contains silica, mineral salts, starch, vitamin A, B and C. The effectiveness of Fennel essential oil can be increased if mixed with Anise, Caraway, and Coriander. It also harmonizes well with Lemon Balm, Mint, Lavender, Geranium, Sandal-wood and Rose.

Fennel harvest, Hungary

The numerous health benefits of Fennel characterize it as an all-round medicinal plant and oil. It is still an indispensable household remedy for many to have at hand at any time.

Fennel oil’s major virtues

Anti-septic: Due to its antiseptic properties Fennel herb oil is able to protect wounds from getting septic. For example infections caused by tetanus and wounds after an operation like a caesarean delivery can find effective healing support through Fennel essential oil.

Anti-spasmodic: Fennel unfolds strong relaxing healing powers on nerves, muscles and the respiratory tract and soothes spasmodic attacks in case of painful coughs, extreme contraction in the intestines, muscle cramps and epileptic seizures.

Aperitif: As an aperitif it works mildly purgative thereby influencing the intestinal peristaltic motion to function properly.

Depurative: Fennel oil acts as a detoxifier and cleans the blood from unwanted deposits like uric acid and other substances. Apart from that it harmonizes the sodium level in the blood.

Fennel field, Hungary

Diuretic: As a lymphatic stimulant Fennel essential oil supports urination thereby removing excess water, uric acid and other toxic deposits from the body. It is also able to cleanse the kidneys, treat high blood pressure, and reduce fat.

Emmenagogue: The female body may benefit from Fennel’s ability to make menstruation’s regular and reduce painful symptoms like headache, nervousness and dizziness if these are the bothering problems. Also untimely menopause can be influenced positively. People with estrogen linked cancer should not take it.

Expectorant: In case of persistent cough and phlegm Fennel proves effective relief. Also when used in case of congestion of the nasal tract, larynx, pharynx and bronchi caused by cold and infections Fennel can unfold its healing properties. In dry cough it helps to dilute the mucous and additionally it stimulates the movement of the cilia in the respiratory tract, so that phlegm can be expectorated more easily.

Galatogogue: Fennel can be recommended for breast-feeding mothers. It stimulates the milk production of the body by boosting the hormone re-lease of estrogen which is of benefit for the baby as well as for the mother. Furthermore the milk carries the digestive and carminative qualities of Fennel oil or Fennel herb tea and protects the baby from flatulence and digestive problems they are suffering from so often. Well established also Fennel honey with its calming effect on the nervous and the digestive system.

Laxative: Fennel oil is a useful laxative to treat both chronic and acute constipation’s with the great advantage that it does not cause side effects like many of the synthetic laxatives. Therefore it can be used regularly. The complete digestive track gets warmed through.

Stimulant: Fennel essential oil acts as a powerful stimulus for the brain and neurons, strengthens all activities of the endocrine system meaning secretions of the endocrine and exocrine glands, the gastric juices of the digestive organs and the excretory system.

Stomachic: As a stomachic Fennel protects and upkeeps the functions of the stomach by watching the secretion of the stomach acids with proper bile flow included. It prevents the stomach from getting infected or infested by ulcers. Thus it takes care of an all-round healthy stomach.

Splenic: Fennel essential oil helps the spleen to upkeep an efficient condition because it plays a key-role in the production of lymphocytes and red blood cells. A healthy condition of spleen indicates a balanced level of red blood cells which in turn increases well-being.

Tonic: Fennel balances the metabolic system and strengthens the immune system. It also shows a cleansing and toning effect on the skin, is able to reduce wrinkles and dispel bruises. All the systems functioning in the body, such as digestion, respiration, nerves and excretion benefit from it, and it is able to support absorption’s of nutrients in the body all of which proves the distinction of Fennel as a tonic to be well-earned.

Nervine: As a home fragrance Fennel unfolds healing powers for the psychic level acting as a tonic for the nerves. It is able to balance psychic instability and nervous tensions and provides consolation in case of abandonment feelings and lack of self-confidence. Callous people are encouraged to open themselves and allow the heart to melt. It awakens the maternal instincts within man.

Testimonials

“Goodbye hot flushes, finally THE miracle product!
This oil is simply a MUST for those who are approaching or are in their menopause: 2 drops in a glass of water in the morning and evening (if you like the Anise-seed flavor) and then 2 drops only per day, and believe me it changes your life, i.e. you no longer open the windows in an untimely manner even when it’s very cold, you no longer put the pressure cooker on inside and it goes up like crazy, you no longer put your head in the fridge, you no longer take out the handkerchiefs to mop up…. in short, after having tried a lot of tablets, each one as expensive as the other, FINALLY my perseverance paid off … after only 15 days of treatment – and my wallet says yippee! I spread the word around me and made some followers who thank me, because that, Ladies, that’s something to share !”
(Aromazone, 30/01/2019 by Catherine M.)

“I love it and I’ve made a following – are you embarrassed? I have been using this oil for years and it has been a great help to me in my daily life. This oil is a real pleasure if you like Anise, but even if you don’t like it, try it, maybe your prejudices will fly away, with this sweet taste.”
(Aromazone, 22/01/2019 by ghislaine g.)

“I used to use this EO when I was feeling sore, but I discovered its virtues on menstrual pain which is extremely violent for me. I was simply bluffed by the speed of action, and the total disappearance of the pain! In short, a miracle with just 1-2 drops directly under the tongue”
(Aromazone, 13/06/2020 by Nabeela A.)

Recipes

Gastritis (T. Telphon)
Local treatment:

  • Juniper: 2 ml
  • Sweet Fennel: 2 ml
  • Coriander: 2 ml

mix with :

  • St John’s wort carrier oil: 30 ml
  • Olive carrier oil: 30 ml

Use: Gently massage the plexus and its periphery, in a clockwise direction. Repeat 1 or 2 times during the day if necessary. St John’s Wort macerate presents a risk of photo-sensitisation. Do not expose yourself to the sun after applying this mixture.

Cellulite (N. Purchon)

  • Rosemary borneone: 20 drops
  • Fennel: 20 drops
  • Juniper: 15 drops
  • Grapefruit: 15 drops
  • Rose Geranium: 5 drops
  • Grape seed carrier oil: 3 tablespoons
  • Sweet Almond carrier oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Wheat germ carrier oil: 5 drops

Uses:
With a natural bristle brush, rub your skin dry, before the bath or shower (always rub in the direction of the heart, making small circular movements). Pour 2 teaspoons of product into the bath water, kneel down and massage the body with the suspended droplets. For a body massage after a shower, put some of the product in the palm of your hand and massage the still wet skin. The product can also be used for deep massages, kneading the flesh well.

A few words on the Ethers

Looking at the Fennel plant, its airy expression is apparent right away. We can understand this as a “signature”, a term which is used to convey the connection between a plant’s shape, color, floral shape, fragrance, size etc. with its intrinsic energy and healing power. As much as the tuber of the stem near the soil invites to become food. It is representing the earth element. But the leaves and the stem move with the wind and seem to be more interested in air and space. And this then, after the floral phase, leads to the seeds from which we derive the essential oil. Fennel oil is, as we saw before, good for the stomach, galactogogue, diuretic….yes, but also nervine, tonic, stimulant etc. As always, Nature combines its opposites in endless possible ways. Bulky and fat tuber, spacey and airy leaves. And if we open the stem, we can see that even here the “vayu” and “akasha” elements (air and space), as we would say in Ayurveda, have taken over. The long stem is hollow inside – which gives it actually a better stability in the movement of the wind – and maybe to us too, tossed around in the “winds of the world”…..:)

Fennel oil seems to want to transfer this “airy stability” through its seeds to those who want to use the oil. And this has very much to do with the presence of the ethers such as trans-anethole and methyl-chavicol. Ethers are known for their anti-spasmodic effects on the human system. This means nothing else than that they help to loosen up our being too much identified with the material structure of our body, they uncramp us

Fennel plants; Foeniculum vulgare dulce

and show us our way back to our “etheric body” to use the terminology of Anthroposophy (Rudolf Steiner) or, in Ayurvedic terms, make us aware that we are more than just a “food body” (Annamaya kosha)… Ethers relax body and mind, they help us letting go and restore balance in the nervous system. With this, using a few drops of Fennel oil can be an interesting way to get over “emotional glue” :), obsessive thinking, depression, and the like… and it is not hard to put a drop in the mouth. The oil is pleasantly sweet and slightly pungent.

Jane Buckle in her book “Clinical Aromatherapy” mentions that ethers are also know for their psychic (“hallucinogenic”) properties. I remember that some “seekers” or psychic adventurers have described this largely on Internet with reference to tropical Basil, Tarragon, and other medicinal plant oils which contain methyl-chavicol for example. Ether subtances, not unlike ketones, when largely overdosed, can definitely have that effect, simply because – as we saw – as nervine tonics they strengthen our energy body which naturally can lead to more subtle experiences in the realm of our inner worlds. This can be ok if taken in the right way. It is always the same : the right dosis is medicine, the overdosis can be risky or even toxic. But this is the case with all what we ingest, touch, breathe in, smell, expose ourselves to… nothing special about it.

I use to call the ethers the “akashic rescue allies”. They have definitely their place in the new era of the rediscovery of Nature’s medicine in form of Aromatherapy. And our time at the moment is so loaded with stress and anxieties of all kinds which makes it even more relevant to look for allies from the plant Kingdom and which can help us – in a natural way ! – to relax with more clarity and let our spirit inside take command.

Glory to Mother Nature, glory to the Fennel plant – medicine from the beyond !

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