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romatherapy Materia Medica

(Foeniculum vulgare)

© Kathi Keville, Mindy Green
 (Excerpted from Aromatherapy)

A tall, feathery Mediterranean herb, fennel loves to grow by the sea. Italian fishermen brought it to California, where it flourishes along the coast. It is called "licorice plant" because of its taste and smell. A fennel water for digestion is still made in Europe.

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Extraction: Distilled from the seed. The odor is herbaceous, sweet and licorice-like. A bitter fennel oil is distilled from whole herb.
Medicinal Action: Fennel reduces obesity, water retention, urinary-tract problems, indigestion and babies' colic. Its hormonal properties (mostly estrogen-like) increase mother's milk and slightly stimulate the adrenals. It is used to inhibit appetite.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Fennel refines the complexion, especially of mature skin, and heals bruises.
Emotional Attribute: Stimulating and revitalizing, fennel increases self-motivation and enlivens the personality.
Considerations: Since it can overexcite the nervous system and even cause convulsions, use fennel oil carefully. Individuals with nervous-system problems, epilepsy or estrogen-related disorders should avoid it.

Associated Oil:
Dill (Anethum graveolens) --Dill oil is distilled from the seed. This southwestern Asia/Mediterranean herb treats obesity, water retention and indigestion, and also refines the complexion. Early Americans chewed the seeds to inhibit appetite during church services. Babies with colic were given "gripe water"-a syrup of dill, fennel and baking soda-then put to bed on fragrant "dilly pillows" (see "Therapeutics" chapter) of dill, lavender and chamomile.

About The Author
Kathi Keville has studied herbs since 1969. Her attraction to fragrant plants led to an involvement in aromatherapy. Her other books include Herbs for Health and Healing;......more
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