Fennel or Foenicuum vulgare will thrive anywhere and, as it self-sows easily, a plantation will last for years. Fennel is largely cultivated for its medicinal use in the south of Europe, Russia, India, and Persia (modern day Iran).
Grown by the Romans for its aromatic fruits and edible shoots, Fennel was also used to ward off evil spirits and scattered over the floors, to keep away fleas and other insects. Pliny ascribed about twenty-two remedies to it and many of the older herbalists advocate its strengthening effect on eyesight.
In herbal medicine, the seeds are usually used, but both the seeds and roots are beneficial. Fennel is high in mineral salts plus about 50-60% of volatile oils which provides the essential elements for the efficient digestion of fats. It could, therefore, help with weight loss, if being overweight is due to faulty assimilation of fats and sugar.
For those who want to lose weight, I found the following effective recipe in an old herbal book:
- 60 g Fennel
- 45 g Parsley
- 30 g Walnut
- 30 g Elderflower
- 15 g Indian corn
- 15 g Calendula
- 15 g Birch
Directions: Place the above herbs in an airtight container, mix and shake well, and store the mixture in a dark place. Infuse one heaped tsp of herbs with one cup of boiling water for approximately five minutes and strain. Drink 1 cup after meals.
As a medicinal herb, it is one of the best remedies for gas, acid stomach, cramps, colic and spasms. Drinking Fennel tea helps nursing mothers produce milk and a decoction given in small doses, is an excellent remedy for tummy ache in small children and colicky babies.
As an eyewash, Fennel tea can be used to relieve irritation and eye strain – gently dab on and around the eyes, similar to the way Camomile tea can be used.
As a culinary herb, the leaves can be chopped and added to fish, pork, veal and salads, while the seeds are popular as a flavouring agent in herb vinegar and some medicines.