Fennel

posted Oct 9, 2014, 12:22 PM by Ivy Hunter   [ updated Nov 16, 2014, 9:40 PM ]
aka foeniculum vulgare is a perennial that grows 60 inches and has yellow flower tops. Plant 18 inches apart by seed. Grows best in full sun, good soil, and the seeds can be sown in clumps to allow the plants to lean against each other.  Mix the fennel into potato salad, macaroni, and Cole slaw as well. I love to use fennel bulb in cooking most soups, as well as blended fennel pesto. Fennel stems are used like celery, the seeds and leaves offer a licorice tang to sauces and soups. Add the seeds to bread and tea as well.

The fennel is a part of the Umbelliferae family along with dill, carrot, celery, and parsley. According to the Herbal Medicine Handbook 2006, Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is also known as fenkel, large fennel, sweet fennel, or bitter fennel, and wild fennel.

Medicinal uses
There are medicinal forms sold as tea, seed, fennel bulbs, essential oils, honey syrup, and seeds. The oil is obtained from the ripe seeds of the sweet or bitter varieties and stimulates gastrointestinal motility in small amounts, but in large amounts it has antispasmodic effects on the gut. It increases bronchial secretions as well. It was used as an expectorant to manage couch, gas, distention, and GI tract spasms. The fruit or seeds may help with lactation, promote menstruation, increase labor, increase libido, according to folk uses, but there is no scientific evidence to back up those claims.

Cough syrup:
1 teaspoon honey
0.5 g fennel oil per kilogram of weight (for adults only)
Mixed with a small amount of warm water and taken daily for no more than 2 weeks.
Don't take more than 10 grams daily

Tea:
Crush up to 5 grams of seed (fresh or dried)
Use in a tea strainer with your favorite tea product
Don't take more than 5 grams daily

Salad:
1 head of fennel
1 grapefruit, peeled & sliced into small pieces
1 cup walnuts
Directions: Thinly slice the bulb of the fennel, and reserve the fronds for later use in another recipe. Toss slices together with soaked walnuts, and the freshly sliced grapefruit.

Pesto:
Fennel fronds make the best pesto. Even more flavorful than basil, and a good alternative for those who cannot have basil due to food allergies. See the attached PDF below for a full handout of the pesto, and sea palm frond fettuccine noodle recipe.

Cautions:
As with any plant, medication, drug, herb, etc - if you experience allergies, stop taking it. Allergies can be seizures, pulmonary edema, nausea, hallucinations, sun sensitivity on the skin, rash or any other reaction that you find uncommon. Fennel, when taken in excess, can lower the seizure threshold. Diabetics should be careful when using honey products as the honey contains natural sugars that can increase blood glucose levels. When foraging for fennel, be alert that there are many look-alikes including poison hemlock - this plant can cause vomiting, paralysis, and death. If you are not sure what it is, leave it alone. Never take this herb for more than 2 weeks liberally. Practice variety, and if you need cough relief for longer than 2 weeks then visit with your doctor to discuss the causes behind the cough and find a treatment plan that works for you under the care of your doctor.


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Ivy Hunter,
Nov 16, 2014, 9:34 PM
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