Fennel is a perennial herb from the carrot family that grows up to two meters tall. The fennel has yellow flowers and fluffy leaves. This flowering plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean, but has expanded to varying parts of the world, particularly to dry areas nearby rivers and seas.
The pleasant aroma and flavor makes it an excellent addition to food and beverages. Similar in taste and texture to anise, fennel is often used interchangeably with anise as a spice. Besides culinary usage, fennel is widely used for medicinal purposes.
Health Benefits of Fennel
There is strong evidence to support that fennel seed oil can alleviate colic in newborn infants. This oil, in conjunction with other oils, given to infants with colic is reported to lessen the infant’s crying time, as compared to those infants with colic not using fennel seed oil. In new mothers, fennel helps ease the process of giving birth. In addition, it increases the flow of breast milk, promotes menstruation and increases sex drive.
Fennel is also used to treat various problems associated with digestion, such as heartburn, loss of appetite, intestinal gas and bloating. For treatment of respiratory infections, fennel targets coughs and bronchitis. Some evidence supports fennel improves vision and decreases back pain.
Because fleas are repelled by fennel, fennel can be used as an insect repellent.
How to Use
Prepare fennel by removing the stalk from the bulb. Cut an inch above the fennel bulb to separate it from the stalk. Next, cut the root end of the bulb and discard it. Wash and dry the bulb. Stand up the bulb and cut it in half.
Depending on the recipe or how you like it, chop it into small pieces, into wedges, or large slices. Because fennel is similar to celery, it can be used as so.
Use fennel seeds to make tea. The oil can be applied directly onto the skin and added into massage oils and lotions.