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The Power of Plant Oils is a forum for learning about the therapeutic use of essential oils.
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and uses of the plants and their oils.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fennel Essential Oil

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel, native to the Mediterranean region, grows from a bulb to about six feet tall with feathery leaves and golden, flowering umbels characteristic to the apicacea family. There are two varieties of fennel: bitter and sweet. The bitter is generally grown as a perennial and the sweet, which is the preferred form for therapeutic essential oil use, is treated as an annual. The plant grows as tall as six feet and reseeds easily.

Historical use:

Because fennel is plentiful in the Mediterranean regions and has been for millenia, it was used as a vegetable by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Both Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides mentioned its medicinal uses. It was especially noted for its ability to increase the flow of breast milk in lactating women, a use that is still validated today.

Therapeutic uses:

Fennel is especially useful for digestive distress, congested breasts (during lactation), and as an anti-inflammatory. The essential oil has been reported to have a balancing effect on blood sugar levels; may have an effect on cellulite; and helps to repel fleas. As with many essential oils, fennel also has anti-microbial properties. Because fennel essential oil contains estragole, which is similar to estrogen, it has been suggested to avoid its use in cases of estrogen dependent cancer, endometriosis, pregnancy, and epilepsy.


Breast Congestion and Soreness

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare oil: 8-drops
Geranium Pelargonium graveolens or P. odorantissimum oil: 4-drops
Peppermint Mentha piperita oil: 2-drops
Jojoba oil: 1/2-cup

Blend all the oils and bottle in an amber bottle. Shake well and massage into the breast twice a day. Wash the breast well before breast-feeding. Fresh fennel leaves can be also used as a poultice, applied directly to the breasts.

Recipe for Fennel and Zucchini Soup with Warm Tomato Relish
from Epicurious
(try substituting a drop or two of fennel essential oil for the fresh fennel - but be sure to add it close to the end)

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups diced fresh fennel (from 1 large bulb), fronds chopped and reserved
1 cup trimmed diced zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced fennel, zucchini, onion, and fennel seeds. Sauté until fennel is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in blender until smooth; return soup to saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and sauté until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds; season relish with salt and pepper. Serve soup with relish.

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 118 calories, 8 g fat, 3 g fiber
Nutritional analysis provided by Bon Appétit