Foeniculum vulgare, commonly known as fennel, is a culinary herb and medicinal plant. Fennel plants are green and white, with feathery leaves and yellow flowers.
It is a biennial, aromatic, stout, glabrous, 1.5 to 1.8 meter high. The ripe fruit (seed) is small, oblong, cylindrical, 6.8mm long, straight or slightly curved, greenish yellow, deeply furrowed, 5 ridged and having agreeable aroma.
ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION
It is a native of Europe and Asia Minor. It is cultivated extensively in Northern India as a cold weather crop. It comes up well in fairly mild climate. The dry and cold weather favours high seed production.
The leaves of fennel is used for garnishing. Leaves and stalks are used in salads. Dried fruits have fragrant odour and pleasant aromatic taste and therefore used as a masticatory. They are also used for flavouring soups, meat dishes, sauces, pastries, confectionaries and liquors.
Aside from its many culinary uses, fennel and its seeds offer a wide array of health benefits and may provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. The fruits are aromatic, stimulant and carminative. Here are some of the medicinal uses of Fennel.
Improves Bone Health: Fennel is rich source of Calcium and hence may improve bone health. Fennel also contains magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, which all play a role in maintaining bone strength.
Prevents Anaemia: Fennel is rich source of Iron and amino acids like Histidine which are quite beneficial for anaemia. Iron is the major component for Haemoglobin, and Histidine also helps in formation of other components of blood.
Relieves indigestion: Some of the components in the essential oils in fennel help in the production of digestive and gastric juices, reduce inflammation in stomach and intestines and also help proper absorption of nutrients in the food. It helps to reduce constipation. It is also widely known for its anti-acid properties and helps relieve acidity.
Also read about the benefits of other commonly used spices like Mint, Ginger, Fenugreek, Curry Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds on our digestion and metabolism.
Anti-Inflammatory: Fennel has anti-inflammatory properties and can help eyes against inflammation. It also helps to reduce eye fatigue.
It is also useful in treating respiratory disorders like Bronchitis, and congestion.
Helps symptoms of Colic: Essential Oils present in fennel and fennel seeds, have the potential to relieve symptoms of colic. It helps to relax muscles and discomfort due to colic.
Rich Source of Vitamin C: Fennel is quite rich in Vitamin C, and helps build our immune system. It also acts as a good anti-oxidant protecting us against cellular damage by free radicals.
Benefits Heart Health: Fennel is great source of fiber and helps to maintain healthy levels of Cholesterol. Fennel is a rich source of Potassium, which helps in reducing Blood Pressure by relieving blood vessels.
Carminative: Fennel is highly carminative and helps treating flatulence. Essential Oils in Fennel also help relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.