Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare)

Traditional Indications

Fennel seeds are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue, hallucinogenic, circulatory stimulant, and stomachic. Fennel has a long history of herbal use and is a commonly used household remedy, being useful in the treatment of a variety of complaints, especially those of the digestive system. An infusion is used in the treatment of indigestion, abdominal distension, stomach pains etc. Fennel is often added to purgatives in order to allay their tendency to cause gripe, and also to improve flavour. An infusion of the seeds is a safe and effective cure for wind in babies and to promote breast milk in mothers. (1)


Active constituents include neochlorogenic acid chlorogenic acid gallic acid chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid-7-o-glucoside, quercetin-7-o-glucoside, ferulic acid, 1,5 dicaffeoylquinic acid, hesperidin, cinnamic acid, rosmarinic acid, quercetin and apigenin. (2)

Fennel is rich with the antioxidant flavonoid Quercetin. Quercetin is known for its antioxidant activity in radical scavenging and anti-allergic properties characterized by stimulation of immune system, antiviral activity, inhibition of histamine release, decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines, leukotrienes creation, and suppresses interleukin IL-4 production and is helpful for allergies and histamine-related inflammation. (3)

Drinking fennel seed tea is a significantly effective aid to suppress subjective appetite among overweight women in South Korea. (4)

Consuming fennel as part of an anti-inflammatory diet is useful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (5) and fennel improves symptoms and quality of life in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). (6)

Fennel effectively blocks the inflammatory processes induced lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury, by regulating pro-inflammatory cytokine production, transcription factors, and NO. (7)

Fennel seeds extract displays antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity. (8)

1. PFAF. Foeniculum vulgare. 2019.
2. Roby MHH, Sarhan MA, Selim KA-H, Khalel KI. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil and extracts of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare L.) and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.). Industrial Crops and Products. 2013;44:437-45.
3. Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2016;21(5):623.
4. Bae J, Kim J, Choue R, Lim H. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) Tea Drinking Suppresses Subjective Short-term Appetite in Overweight Women. Clinical nutrition research. 2015;4(3):168-74.
5. Olendzki BC, Silverstein TD, Persuitte GM, Ma Y, Baldwin KR, Cave D. An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a case series report. Nutrition journal. 2014;13:5-.
6. Portincasa P, Bonfrate L, Scribano ML, Kohn A, Caporaso N, Festi D, et al. Curcumin and Fennel Essential Oil Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Journal of gastrointestinal and liver diseases : JGLD. 2016;25(2):151-7.
7. Lee HS, Kang P, Kim KY, Seol GH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill. Protects against Lipopolysaccharide-induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice through ERK-dependent NF-κB Activation. The Korean journal of physiology & pharmacology : official journal of the Korean Physiological Society and the Korean Society of Pharmacology. 2015;19(2):183-9.
8. Mohamad RH, El-Bastawesy AM, Abdel-Monem MG, Noor AM, Al-Mehdar HAR, Sharawy SM, et al. Antioxidant and Anticarcinogenic Effects of Methanolic Extract and Volatile Oil of Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare). 2011;14(9):986-1001.


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