Fennel common

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 02.10.2022

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Synonym(s)

Bitter Fennel; common fennel; fennel (engl.); foeniculum vulgare; Sweet fennel; wild fennel

Definition
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The common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is native to the Mediterranean area, there are subspecies: fennel piperitum (pepper or donkey fennel), a wild fennel and the garden fennel. The latter is cultivated all over Europe. The latter also has three varieties: bitter fennel, sweet or Roman fennel and the vegetable or onion fennel. Herbaceous biennial plant of the umbelliferous family, with growth heights of 0.4-2.0 meters. The two- to three-pinnate stem leaves are hair-slit. The petioles of the lower leaves are 5-15 cm long. As a phytotherapeutic, the ripe fruits of bitter and sweet fennel are used, Foeniculi fructus.

Fennel is traditionally used as a spice with fish. It is added to sauces and minced meat. Finely chopped fennel leaves are used in small quantities to flavor soups, salads, mayonnaises and for "vinaigrette" sauce. Fennel is also used in some spirits (absinthe or pastis).

HMPC - Monograph: both bitter fennel, sweet fennel and fennel oil: traditional-use: mild crampy gastrointestinal complaints, flatulence, flatulence. also mild menstrual cramps, also expectorant for cough in colds.
ESCOP monograph: bitter and sweet fennel, and bitter fennel oil: dyspeptic complaints, mild crampy gastrointestinal complaints, flatulence, but also catarrh of the upper respiratory tract. only the bitter fennel to relieve menstrual crampsCommission
E monograph: bitter fennel
and bitter fennel oil: dyspeptic complaints. mild crampy gastrointestinal complaints, bloating, flatulence, also catarrh of the upper respiratory tract.

General information
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Naturopathy:

Foeniculum vulgare is the parent plant of the medicinally important Foeniculi fructus, the officinal fennel fruit, and of Foeniculi aetheroleum, the officinal fennel oil, which is also used for naturopathic purposes.

Cosmetics:

Foeniculum vulgare (semen) oil (from sweet fennel). Foeniculum vulgare (semen) oil, the cosmetically used sweet fennel oil, is obtained from the crushed seeds of sweet fennel by steam distillation. The oil is a colorless to pale yellow liquid.

Foeniculum vulgare (semen) oil (from the bitter fennel): Foeniculum vulgare (semen) oil is obtained from the crushed seeds of bitter fennel by steam distillation. Bitter fennel (semen) oil is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a camphor-like odor.

Foeniculum vulgare oil (from the bitter fennel): Foeniculum vulgare oil, a pale orange-brown liquid with a pungent, camphor-like odor, is obtained from the whole plant by steam distillation.

Effects: promotion of gastrointestinal motility, spasmolytic, secretolytic, carminative and appetizing, increase gastric juice secretion, antimicrobial.

Indication (according to Commission E): dyspeptic complaints, bloating, flatulence, spasmodic gastrointestinal complaints, also: catarrh of the upper respiratory tract.

Indication in empirical medicine: loss of appetite, infantile dyspepsia with diarrhea

Contraindication: pregnancy, infants: fennel oil can be used only in the oil portion of max 5-7 g of drug.

Literature
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  1. Schöne F et al. (2006) Effects of essential oils from fennel (Foeniculi aetheroleum) and caraway (Carvi aetheroleum) in pigs. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl) 90:500-510.
  2. SchilcherH et al (2010) Guide to phytotherapy; 122-124.
  3. https://arzneipflanzenlexikon.info/fenchel.php.
  4. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/herbal-monograph/final-community-herbal-monograph-foeniculum-vulgare-miller-subsp-vulgare-var-dulce-miller-thellung_en.pdf
  5. Wenigmann M. (2017) Phytotherapy medicinal drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, application. Urban & Fischer, pp. 106-107