Fennel is a perennial, pleasant-smelling herb with yellow flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but is now found throughout the world. Dried fennel seeds are often used in cooking as an anise-flavored spice. But don’t confuse fennel with anise; though they look and taste similar, they are not the same. Fennel’s dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine.
Fennel is used for various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants. It is also used for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs, bronchitis, cholera, backache, bedwetting, and visual problems.
Some women use fennel for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive.
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Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using fennel during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid use.
During breast-feeding, fennel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It’s been reported that two breast-feeding infants experienced damage to their nervous systems after their mothers drank an herbal tea that contained fennel.
Children: For the most part, there is not enough evidence to know whether it is safe for children when used in medicinal amounts. However, researchers have studied a combination product (ColiMil) for colic that contains fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile. This product seems to be safe in infants when used for up to one week.
Allergy to celery, carrot or mugwort: Fennel might cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to these plants.
Bleeding disorders: Fennel might slow blood clotting. Taking fennel might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Fennel might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use fennel.
BY MOUTH: For colic in breast-fed infants: a specific multi-ingredient product containing 164 mg of fennel, 97 mg of lemon balm, and 178 mg of German chamomile (Colimil) twice daily for a week.