Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a native plant of the Mediterranean region. The bulbs, leaves, and seeds are commonly eaten. Fennel has a mild licorice flavor and celery-like texture. It is a good source of potassium.
Fennel fruits have been used as a traditional herbal medicine in Europe and China. Fennel tea has been used as a remedy to treat indigestion in infants.
Good human evidence suggests that fennel reduces colic in infants. According to limited human evidence, fennel may also reduce painful menstruation and protect against damage caused by ultraviolet light. Fennel tea alone or in combination with other herbs is popularly used for gastrointestinal disorders and to improve digestion. However, studies evaluating fennel alone for this use in humans are needed.
Adas (Indonesian, Malay), adas pedas (Malay), alpha-pinene, anason dulce (Romanian), aneth doux (French), anethole, Anethum foeniculum, anis (Tagalog), Anthemis cotula (dog fennel), Apiaceae (parsley family), aptechnyj ukrop (Russian), apteegitilliseemne (Estonian), badesopu (Kannada), badishep (Marathi), bitter fennel, carosella, cây thì là (Vietnamese), common fennel, édeskömény (Hungarian), estragole (methyl chavicol), Fenchel (German), fenchone, fenheli parastie (Latvian), fenhelis (Latvian), fenicol, fenikel (Slovak), fenkel, fenkhel (Russian), fenkoli (Finnish), fenkolo (Esperanto), fennel honey syrup, fennel oil, fenneru (Japanese), fennika (Icelandic), fennikel (Danish, Norwegian), fenouil (French), fenoun (Provençal), fenykl (Czech), ferula communis (giant fennel), finocchio (Italian), finokio (Greek), florence fennel, Foeniculi antheroleum, Foeniculum capillaceum, Foeniculum officinale, Foeniculum vulgare, Foeniculum vulgare ssp. piperitum (bitter fennel), Foeniculum vulgare Mill. var. dulce (sweet fennel), Foeniculum vulgare Mill. var. vulgare (bitter fennel fruits), fructus Foeniculi, funcho (Portuguese), garden fennel, guamoori, haras (Tagalos), harilik apteegitill (Estonian), hinojo (Spanish), hoehyang (Korean), hoehyang-pul (Korean), h?i hương (Vietnamese), hui xiang (Mandarin Chinese), jinten manis (Indonesian), kama (Georgian), komorač (Serbian, Croatian), kopër (Albanian), koper włoski (Polish), koromač (Croatian), large cummin, large fennel, limonene, lus an t'saiodh (Gaelic), madhurika (Sanskrit), maduru (Sinhala), marac (Albanian), maratho (Greek), mehul (Basque), mellet karee (Thai), merula obisnuita, mieloi (Basque), miur belar (Basque), molură (Romanian), morach (Bulgarian), moti saunf (Hindi), mouri (Bengali), pačiolis (Lithuanian), pak chi duanha (Thai), pan modhuri (Oriya), paprastasis pankolis (Lithuanian), pedda jilakarra (Telugu), pennel (Korean), perunjiragam (Tamil), phak si (Laotian), phong karee (Thai), phytoestrogen, razianaj (Arabic), razianeh (Farsi), razyana (Azeri), rezene (Bulgarian, Turkish), samit (Armenian), samong-saba (Burmese), saunf (Hindi), shamaar (Arabic), shamar (Arabic), shamari (Swahili), shamraa (Arabic), shatpushpa (Sanskrit), shoap (Marathi), shoumar (Arabic), shumar (Arabic, Hebrew), siu wuih heung (Cantonese), sladki komarček (Slovenian), sladkij ukrop (Russian), sohikirai (Tamil), so-hoehyang (Korean), sombu (Tamil), sonf (Urdu), sopu (Telugu), spice of the angels, sulpha, sweet cumin, sweet fennel, thian-klaep (Thai), tian hi xiang (Mandarin Chinese), tiêu h?i hương (Vietnamese), tihm wuih heung (Cantonese), trans-anethole, uikyo (Japanese), ukrop sladki (Russian), Umbilliferae (parsley family), venkel (Dutch, Estonian), wariari, wild fennel, wuih heung (Cantonese), xiao hui xiang (Mandarian Chinese), yira (Thai).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Limited research suggests that fennel may reduce infantile colic. Additional studies are needed to confirm these promising findings.
ACE inhibitor-associated cough
Preliminary evidence suggests that fennel may help relieve a cough from using certain blood pressure-lowering drugs called ACE inhibitors (ACEI). However, there is insufficient evidence to make a conclusion for or against its use for ACEI-induced cough.
According to preliminary evidence, fennel, when combined with other herbal agents, may decrease pain associated with colitis (inflammation of the colon). More evidence is needed before further conclusions can be drawn.
Evidence evaluating the effects of fennel combined with other herbal agents suggests that it may reduce constipation. Studies evaluating fennel alone are needed before further conclusions may be drawn.
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
Fennel has been used to treat painful menstruation. Although preliminary research is promising, further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Hair growth (excessive)
Fennel has been studied in women with hirsutism (excessive facial and body hair), due to its estrogenic effects. More research is needed before further conclusions can be drawn.
According to preliminary evidence, sweet fennel combined with other aromatherapy agents may reduce nausea in patients in hospice programs. More evidence is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Ultraviolet light skin damage protection
Topical fennel extract improved sun protection factor (SPF) and decreased ultraviolet light-induced skin reddening. More research is needed in this area.