Botanical Name :- Foeniculum vulgare
Indian Name :- Sombu, peruncheeragam (பெருஞ்சீரகம்), saunf (Hindi)
Other names: الشمرة (Arabic), komorac (Croatia), fennikel (Danish), venkel (Dutch), haras (Philippines), fenkoli (Finnish), fenouil (French), fenchel (German), funcho (Portuguese), hinojo (Spanish), ไม้คล้ายยี่หร่า (Thai), Jintan manis (Malay)
Fennel is a perennial herb. It is erect, glaucous green, and grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform (threadlike), about 0.5 mm wide. (Its leaves are similar to those of dill, but thinner.) The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5–15 cm wide, each umbel section having 20–50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. The fruit is a dry seed from 4–10 mm long, half as wide or less, and grooved.
Fennel was well known to the Ancients and was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots. Pliny had much faith in its medicinal properties, according no less than twenty-two remedies to it, observing also that serpents eat it 'when they cast their old skins, and they sharpen their sight with the juice by rubbing against the plant.'
The bulb, foliage, and seeds of the fennel plant are widely used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. Fennel pollen is the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive. Dried fennel seed is an aromatic, anise-flavoured spice, brown or green in colour when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the seed ages. For cooking, green seeds are optimal. The leaves are delicately flavored and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp, hardy root vegetable and may be sauteed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw.
Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are very similar in taste and appearance, though smaller. Fennel is also used as a flavouring in some natural toothpaste.
Fennel features prominently in Mediterranean cuisine, where bulbs and fronds are used, both raw and cooked, in side dishes, salads, pastas, vegetable dishes such as artichoke dishes in Greece, and risottos. Fennel seed is a common ingredient in Italian sausages and meatballs and northern European rye breads.
Many cultures in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East use fennel seed in their cookery. It is an essential ingredient of the Bengali/Oriya spice mixture panch phoron and in Chinese five-spice powders. In many parts of Pakistan and India roasted fennel seeds are consumed as an after-meal digestive and breath freshener. Farming communities also chew on fresh sprigs of green fennel seeds.
On account of its aromatic and carminative properties, Fennel fruit is chiefly used medicinally with purgatives to allay their tendency to griping and for this purpose forms one of the ingredients of the well-known compound Liquorice Powder. Fennel water has properties similar to those of anise and dill water: mixed with sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute the domestic 'Gripe Water,' used to correct the flatulence of infants. Volatile oil of Fennel has these properties in concentration.
Fennel tea, formerly also employed as a carminative, is made by pouring half a pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of bruised Fennel seeds.
Syrup prepared from Fennel juice was formerly given for chronic coughs.
Fennel is also largely used for cattle condiments.
It is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered Fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables. The plant gives off ozone most readily.
To relieve digestive complaints in infants and children
Fennel tea's sweet flavor and antispasmodic effect make it a good choice for children with stomach upset. In infants with colic, a few tablespoons of fennel tea bring fast relief: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of crushed fennel seeds. Allow it to steep for 10 min., then strain. The tea is also helpful to older children with abdominal pain and flatulence. You can make fennel tea with milk instead of water or use the tea to thin whole milk or pureed foods.
To promote lactation
In folk medicine, fennel tea is commonly used to increase milk flow in nursing mothers. Drink at least 3 cups of the tea each day. The infusion may also relieve breast infections or nipple soreness. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm tea and apply it to the affected area of the skin.
To treat eye inflammations
Bring 1/2 cup of water and 2 tsp. of crushed fennel seeds to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm tea, cover your eyes with it and leave it on for 15 minutes. Or, use the tea as an eyewash.
To treat indigestion
Fennel tea is helpful for the relief of bloating and flatulence. The so-called "four-winds tea blend," which contains equal parts fennel, anise, caraway and coriander seeds, has proved especially useful for this purpose. All four of these herbs have similar therapeutic properties and uses.
To ease congestion
Due to its mucus-dissolving properties, fennel tea is often used as an expectorant for the treatment of whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections. It can also be used as a gargle for a sore throat. Inhalations with essential oil of fennel alleviate coughing and loosen phlegm; it also clears respiratory passages, making breathing easier. Mix 2 drops of fennel oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the vapors.
For eliminating toxins
European doctors have used fennel oil externally to treat gout, as it helps flush waste products from the body. Add 4 drops of fennel oil to your warm bathwater before you get into the tub.
For conditioning your skin
A conditioning oil containing a few drops of fennel oil can prevent acne and help heal minor skin inflammations. It also has a mild firming effect on the skin that may restore muscle tone. Blend 1 drop of fennel oil in 2 tbsp. of sweet-almond oil and apply.
Fennel oil is one of the most effective aromatherapy oils for reducing bloating. Blend 2 drops of the oil in 1 ounce of sweet-almond oil. Gently rub your abdomen with the oil to ease swelling and gas.
Women with chapped, sore breasts from nursing can use fennel oil for the pain. Blend 3 drops of fennel oil, 2 oz. of avocado oil, 10 drops of rose-hip-seed and 2 drops of sandalwood oil. Rub into your skin after nursing (wash off before nursing again).
1 cup boiling water
1-2 tsp Fennel Seeds Crushed
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of slightly
crushed fennel seeds,
cover, steep for 5 minutes, and strain. For extra flavor, add a fresh orange rind to your fennel tea.
Store dried fennel seeds in an airtight container and keep it in a cool
and dry location. They should remain good for six months. Place in the refrigerator and they will last longer.