Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare, foeniculum officinale

Common names: Large Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel

Ayurvedic names: Saunf, Shatapushpa 

Chinese names: Xiao Hui xiang

Bangladesh names: Mouri, Mauri, Pan, Muhiri,

Arabic names:    الشمرة (ash-shamrah)

Rain Forest names: 

Family: Umbelliferae (carrot)

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed, Oil, Leaf


Annual/Perennial: Biennial or perennial

Height:  Up to 2 metres

Actions:  Carminative, aromatic, anti-spasmodic, stimulant, galactogogue, rubefacient, expectorant, anti-emetic, diaphoretic, hepatic, stomachic, pectoral, spasmolytic, anti-microbial

umbel picture

Known Constituents:  Over 5% oil inclugin >60% trans-antheole and >15% fenchone, <5% estragole; flavanoids, organic acids, stilbene trimers, plant sterols, including beta-sitosterol

Constituents Explained:


The stems are hollow with leaves that are thin and striaght.  Umbels (picture) of yellow flowers come off the end of the stem.  The fruit is made up of 2 joined carpels? The leaves and the sees have been said to have a licorice flavour.

Traditional Use:

A herb with a generally pleasing taste, that is sometimes used as a flavouring agent in tea, alcohol and food products.7  It was used for the Romans and it was mentioned in ancient Spainiard agricultural records.7 The plant is edible and vaguely resembles celery, with a distinct taste.

A good aid for digestion, and to ease gas and bloating.  It is often combined with herbs to relieve griping and cramping.  It is sometimes used to produce the flow of breast milk. Also taken to gently regulate menstruation and relieve cramping.  The seed has been used to assist in weight loss.

It is sometimes used for snake and insect bites, and food poisoning.1  The fruit has been used for nausea and hiccups.7

Tends to sometimes be used interchangeably with aniseed for its relaxing effect on the respiratory system.

One of the constituents anethole has a similar chemical structure to adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine.7  Fennel has been said to be a bronchodilator and similar to amphetamine, fennel has said to be conducive to weight loss.7

Externally it is used for joint aches and pains.  The tea is sometimes used as an eyewash. It has been used for jaundice.1

It hjas been used to increase the flow of breast milk and to regulate menstration.  The root has been used to repair the liver.

Clinical Studies:

Despite its benign, natural course, colic is a significant problem in infants and imparts a psychological, emotional, and physical burden to parents. Dicyclomine hydrochloride is the only pharmacological treatment for infantile colic that has been consistently effective. 

Unfortunately, 5% of infants treated with dicyclomine hydrochloride develop serious side effects, including death. Fennel seed oil has been shown to reduce intestinal spasms and increase motility of the small intestine.

To determine the effectiveness of fennel seed oil emulsion in infantile colic, a andomized placebo-controlled trial was conducted in two large multi-specialty clinics. 125 infants, 2 to 12 weeks of age, who met definition of colic were covered in the study.

The use of fennel oil emulsion eliminated colic, according to the Wessel criteria, in 65% of infants in the treatment group, which was significantly better than 23.7% of infants in the control group. There was a significant improvement of colic in the treatment group compared with the control group.

Side effects were not reported for infants in either group during the trial. The study suggests that fennel seed oil emulsion is superior to placebo in decreasing intensity of infantile colic.


Alexandrovich I, Rakovitskaya O, Kolmo E, Sidorova T, Shushunov S. “The Effect Of Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) Seed Oil Emulsion In Infantile Colic: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study.” 2003 July http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12868253