Common Name: Fennel
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Family: Umbelliferae or Apiaceae
Origin: Mediterranean countries such as Itlay, Greece and France
Synonyms: F. officinale, Anethum foeniculum; F vulgare is also known as Roman fennel.
Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics
Sweet fennel is a colourless to pale-yellow liquid with a very sweet, but slightly earthy or peppery-spicy odour and a clean, sweet aromatic dry-out.
Origin and History
Fennel is a biennial or perennial herb that grows up to 2 metres high, with fine, feathery leaves and umbels of golden-yellow flowers. There are two subspecies of fennel, being the F. vulgare, known as bitter fennel and F vulgare var dulce, known as sweet fennel.
Fennel was well known to the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. It was cultivated for its aromatic fruits and succulent edible shoots. Pliny had high regard for its medicinal properties.
The dried aromatic fruits or seeds are widely used in culinary preparations for flavouring bread and pastry, in candies, alcoholic liqueurs as well as in oral and medicinal preparations.
Method of Extraction
The essential oil of fennel is extracted from the distillation of the crushed seeds of the F. vulgare.
Precautions During Use (Contraindications)
Sweet and bitter fennel are often contraindicated for use by persons suffering from epilepsy or during pregnancy.
Worwood says that the fennel personalities are constantly active and always on the move. Fennel oil is closely related to the earth element and the intellect. According to TCM, an important aspect of the earth element is the need and capacity to be productive and creative. Mojay says that fennel is suited to the type of individual who tends to over-think and analyse.
Other therapeutic properties reported include antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactagogue, splenic, stomachic, cleansing, toning, purifying and stimulating.
Leman essential oil blends well with lavender.
Source: Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003, ISBN 0-6464-2896-9 and Lawless, J. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, ISBN 0-00-714518-7.