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Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an edible, perrenial herb which resembles dill. It was discovered in the Mediterranean region and south-east Asia (from east of Morroco and Portugal all the way to Pakistan). The biggest growers of fennel today are: the United States, France, India and Rusia. Fennel was brought to North America by the Spanish missionaires to be grown in their own medicinal gardens. In California it is known under the name of "star anise". The fact that this herb was used in the ancient times is shown by the traditions presented in mythology. In Greek myths this plant was associated with Dionysus (the god of feasts and wine). It is also said that intelligence came from the gods and reached the humans through a fennel stem. Fennel was considered to have magical characteristics. In the Middle Ages during the summer solstice this herb was placed by the door in order to fend off the evil spirits. What is more, the plant seeds were used to block the keyhole to keep the ghosts from entering the homes.

 Fennel seeds are 4-8 cm long, thin and slightly curved with colors that vary from brown to light green. The bittersweet smell and the slightly minty taste make this herb similar to ansine. Many languages (like Hindoo, Indonesian, Hungarian) contain only one word for both fennel and ansine. Fennel fruits - seeds are an old type of seasoning found in the Mediterranean region. These are used to make pickles, scented bread, scented vinegar, meat, fish, sea fruits. The poor would use fennel to appease the hunger in the Lent period but also for spicing up meals.

Proprieties and benefits of Fennel

It is believed from folklore that this herb has mysterious vitalistic characters. It was believed that snakes would digest fennel to shed their skin and to sharpen their vision. Likewise, it was believed that this herb has a rejuvenating effect on man and helps the eye sight. Moreover, fennel stimulates lactation and loss of weight. The consumption in excessive quantities of fennel is not indicated because it can lead to muscular convulsions and even hallucinations.

Fennel contains many minerals and vitamins: vitamin C, fibers, manganese, potasium, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin B3 etc. The vitamin C from the bulb of the plant is antibacterian and very useful to the immune system. Furthermore the fennel bulb is an important source of fibers which help reduce the cholesterol level. Also, the fibers from this herb can prevent intestinal cancer owing to the fact that they can eliminate toxins and cancerous substances from intestines. The herb is rich in potasium - an essential mineral which helps decrease the high blood pressure that can cause a heart attack.

  Fennel seeds, leaves and roots are edible, but the fat extracted from the fennel seeds was proved to be toxic even in small quantities - leading to skin rashes, breathing problems and nausea. 

Mixtures and treatments
Owing to the invigorating and purifying effects that fennel has over the human body, it can be used in treating bruises, cellulitis, obesity, retaining water, eliminating the toxins from the body, halitosis, inflamations of the mouth. Fennel helps eliminate the common cold and reduce the bouts of cough due to its expectorant nature (contains big quantity of alpha-pinen). The steam resulting from the boiling of the fennel leaves in water alleviates asthma and bronchitis

The mixtures and infusions from dry fennel seeds eliminate stomachaches and stimulate digestion. In childrens? case fennel is a good remedy against intestinal worms by administering light infusions of fennel leaves and seeds. The fennel mixture is used to sharpen the eyesight and alleviate eye irritations. Fennel seeds and roots unclog the liver, spleen, billiary bladder and eliminate cramps. In order to prepare an infusion of fennel seed it is necessary to crush a spoonfull of fennel seeds in a cup of water or milk. The container in which the mixture is being prepared must not be made out of metal. After boiling the mixture, 10 minutes are necessary for it to cool. Two-three cups of this mixtures should be consumed daily. 

The tea from fennel leaves and seeds is beneficial for removing intestinal worms and bacteria. The syrup made from fennel juice alleviates the violent bouts of cough. The volatile oil is antiseptic, sedative, carminative, expectorant and it is used in the making of soap and perfumes. The herb also has a very valued effect: if it is pulverized in coops and stables it keeps the flees away.

 It is recommended that pregnant women stay away from mixtures containing fennel. In large quantities fennel is an uterine stimulant. It does not cause any side effects if it is used in meals. In using the volatile oil any direct contact with the skin is to be avoided due to the fact that it can cause dermatitis for the individulas with sensitive skin. 


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