Fennel Essential Oil

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Did you know that the botanical name for fennel essential oil is foeniculum vulgare, a 2 meters high perennial herb whose leaves are feathery in shape and is pale yellow in colour?  It has a similar smell with licorice. Its sweetness and spicy herb makes it ideal for cooking. The plant was indigenously grown in the Mediterranean but currently available in most of the countries across the globe. It was first used by Greeks for its gentleness on the skin. It was effective in weight loss due to its diuretic properties.  Roman soldiers used the oil to suppress their appetite during their long journeys and desert experiences.  Athletes prefer using the oil during Olympics because it is energy giving and enhances longevity. Children in India are given a concoction of the essential oil to relieve colic. It is important to note that not all countries know and use it; US and Australia refer to it as an invasive plant and classifies it as a weed. Fennel seeds have been used for long as a mouth freshener or for culinary purposes.

Fennel essential oil is extracted from the seeds through steam distillation.  Fennel plants are both male and female where male plant is rounder in shape, has fibre and is eaten raw; the female plant is longer and is cooked to be eaten. The three types of fennel are sweet ,bitter and a vegetable (dulce, amara and azoricum respectively)  The sweet fennel essential oil has properties such as  trans- anethole, known to treat cancer. Monoterpenes is for circulatory of blood, pain relieving and disinfectant, and fenchone for cellular regeneration. .

Fennel’s aroma has made it popular in production of perfumes and soaps.

Fennel seed is popularly used in cooking because of its distinctive spicy taste.  It is a rich source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and both vitamin B and C.  It has effective therapeutic properties reducing digestive system problems.

The oil has several properties such as antiseptic, ant-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-bacteria, antimicrobial, analgesic, stimulant, tonic among others.

Medical uses of fennel essential oil

Curing Wounds

By virtue of the oil having antiseptic properties, it is used to effectively cure wounds. The oil offers protection against the wound becoming septic.  After surgery wounds and incisions are kept away from being septic too.

Relieves Spasms

These abnormal contractions in the body system are treated using fennel essential oil.  Spasms can lead to serious ailments like epileptic attacks, convulsions, muscle pulls and stomach cramps. If the spasms go untreated, one can run out of breath leading to death.  The oil relaxes the nerves, soothes the spasmodic attacks.

Clears the Bowel

A property in fennel essential oil known as aperitif, acts on peristaltic movement helping clearing  of the bowel thus curing constipation. Its laxative properties ensure that an individual will not experience constipation. The oil stimulates the production of bile by the liver causing thorough digestion of food which ultimately results to smooth bowel movement.  In addition to this, the fennel oil helps treat stomach infections and ulcers.

Carminative Effect

Fennel oil allows escape of gases out of the intestines resulting to relief.  Accumulation of these gases brings about indigestion thus abdominal pain. In addition, it prevents more gases to be formed in the system.  Its spasmodic property ensures that gastric pain and discomfort due to indigestion and flatulence is alleviated. The oil is useful in treatment of chronic gas problems.

Detoxification

Body toxins are expelled out of the body system by the diuretic and lymphatic ability of fennel oil.  Excess fats and fluids are eliminated from the body thus decongesting the system. Blood toxics such as uric acid and urea are expelled from the body when this oil is used. It is commonly used for massages during weigh loss exercises and helpful in balancing sodium levels.  Frequent urination aid in cleansing the kidney s well as lowering the blood pressure.  Unless you are suffering from swelling due to excess fluids n the body, drink a lot of water since excess urination can cause dehydration.

Reproductive Health

Estrogen properties found in anethole, makes this oil be a “woman’s oil”. It helps calm the menstrual pain as well as curbing hormonal issues including premature menopause.  In India, the oil is given to mothers who have given birth to aid in lactation and contraction of the uterus. Milk from lactating mothers, who take the oil, helps the baby as well from gases in the stomach.   During lactation, the oil helps in production of more milk as a result of adequate estrogen in the system. The oil helps clearing obstructed menses and acts as a pain reliever as well as ensuring regular flow. Hot flashes during menopause are uncomfortable but the use of this oil can reduce them.

Reproductive health

Oral and Dental Care

Fennel essential oil’s antiseptic properties are essential in treatment of dental problems.  It is commonly used as a natural mouth freshener. You do not need to mix or dilute the oil with anything for moth freshener.

Emotional Illnesses

Low self-esteem and lack of self acceptance can lead to emotional eating which causes obesity and abnormal weight gain.  Fennel essential oil enhances self acceptance and high self esteem.  It encourages motivation and perseverance through the weight loss process. By giving courage for self expression, an individual can communicate freely releasing any issue that could be disturbing or stressing. Fennel oil helps in metabolic process which causes weight loss. Massage your abdomen or put a drop of the oil under your tongue, it will travel fast in the body system suppressing cravings.

Deworming

The oil is good at destroying worms in the intestines and excretory tubes. Worms such as tape and round common in children causes malnourishment and affects growth.  The oil kills both the worms and spores which could be in the system.

Useful Stimulant

The stimulating quality of fennel oil promotes the entire functions of the body. These functions are such as secretion, digestion and nervous as well as brain. Effective stimulation helps curb dizziness, tiredness and stress.

Tonic Effect

Fennel essential oil tones up the skin, working on cellulites and wrinkles that affect the skin tone.  Other than toning the skin, the oil tones other systems in the body such as digestive, nervous among others. It is useful in toning facial muscles as well as restoration of moisturized skin. Apply it using a clean cloth every night and you will enjoy the effects on your skin.  It is ideal for use on dull and oily complexion skin.

Anemia

Amino acid which is found in fennel is ideal for treatment of anemia.  It supports production of adequate hemoglobin.  In addition to there are many other blood components which the oil contributes in their formation.

Muscle Cramps

Fennel essential oil’s antispasmodic properties help in improving stiffness which leads to muscular cramps.  The muscle cramps are caused by straining or idle muscular effort.  To ease the tendrils, massage the aching areas with the fennel essential oil which has been diluted with a carrier oil of your choice.

Anti Diabetic Activity

The oil has revealed hypoglycemic activity and a study shows that use of the oil by diabetic patients, corrects hyperglycemia.  The oil therefore becomes a drug proposed to be added in the ant diabetic industry.

Aromatherapy

Compared with aniseed, fennel essential oil has similar properties which are sweetness n their earthly aroma. It is effective in weight loss and therefore a common component in weight watchers’ diet.

Aromatic Uses of Fennel Essential Oil

Direct Inhalation

This is the easiest yet effective way to apply the oil.  Put the oil in a cup and bring it close to your nose, inhaling by taking deep breathes.  Your palm can also be use for direct inhalation. Put some oil on your palm breath in to inhale sufficient aroma.

Indirect Inhalation

If you are uncomfortable walking around with a bottle of the oil, use your handkerchief instead. Put a few drops on the handkerchief and inhale.  You can as well put a few drops on your pillow for inhaling easily when asleep.

Diffusion

At home or in the office use a diffuser machine.  It uses cool temperature or vibrations which release the molecules in the air for inhaling.

Room Vents and Fans

If you do not have a diffuser machine, put a few drops of the oils on a clean cotton cloth and place in next to the fan or near the vent of your room.  The oil molecules will be dispersed in the air and you will inhale.

Steam Inhalation

Steam Inhalation

Put a few drops of the oil in a bowl with warm water.  Ensure that the water is warm and not hot.  Place a heavy towel over your head, covering from your shoulders to all round your face.  Bend forward towards the bowl and inhale the steam.

Other Uses of Fennel

Emotional Benefit.

Both emotionally and spiritually, the oil promotes person’s responsibility, making them respond with confidence. A person with low self esteem or not motivated is advised to use the oil for self uplifting. Warriors in the olden days, use the oil to gain strength and confidence.  The oil promoted longevity and stamina.

Cookery

The fennel herb is mostly used in preparing fish sauces, assorted soups and vegetable salads especially those with cucumbers.  When grilling fish, a dried stalk is used.  The spice is used in baking breads and curries and a common flavour in Chinese dishes. The seeds can be combined with cheese and put in steamed vegetables.  The stalk can be used as celery too.

Complimentary Oils

The following blends work well with fennel essential oil. 

  • Basil essential oil
  • Geranium essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  • Sandalwood essential oil

Substitute Oils

  • Juniper berry essential oil
  • Basil essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Cardamom essential oil

The above mentioned substitutes are applied depending on purpose of the oil. Be sure on which substitute is effective for each particular use.

Precautions on Fennel Essential Oil

Always do a patch test before application of this oil.  It will reveal the sensitivity of the skin avoiding allergies or any form of irritation. Use the required dosage because over application may result to skin sensitization.

Do not apply in areas such as eyes, nose and ears; they are delicate and sensitive parts of the body. Mucus membranes must be avoided as well during application of the fennel essential oil.

Manufacturers make different brands of the oil, therefore test all brands.  Be keen on the instructions given.

Although Trans anethole is useful in production of estrogen, it is harmful to women with cancer, pregnant or lactating.  Estrogen is known to cause cancerous cells’ growth.

Overdose may cause convulsions and mental problems due to the high levels of narcotics. Individuals with epileptic condition should not use this oil.

Undiluted oil is may cause skin sensitization and irritation.  Therefore use carrier oil for gentleness on the skin and follow dilution guidelines to the latter.

Internal use of the oil is limited to individuals working under close supervision and advice of a health practitioner.

Keep out of reach of both children and pets.

In some cases fennel essential oil is reported to inhibit absorption of anti biotic, it is therefore discouraged to use the oil during the same time.  It is important to consult your doctor before you use the oil.

During preparation of the oil for medicinal purposes, scientific attention is key to ensure there is total absence of risky properties such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and teratogenicity.  The oil should have toxicity and after use effects at minimum level.

The oil is considered safe for use despite its hypersensitivity reaction which is within controllable levels thus posing no risk to the user. An allergy could be experienced especially to those individuals who are allergic to any plant within the same family as fennel.  Therefore if you have allergies after using these properties it is most likely that if you use fennel essential oil, allergies will follow.

Precautions

Quality of Fennel Essential Oil

Though there are many brands of this oil in the market, not all are quality thus compromising the results of therapeutic process. The following are some guidelines to use when choosing a quality brand:

  • Fennel plant variety
  • The plant must be indigenously grown
  • No chemicals and pesticides applied during growth.
  • Harvested at the right time.
  • Proper temperature and pressure used during harvest.
  • Tested thoroughly

Recipes for Fennel Essential Oil

Anti-Cellulite Blend

Ingredients

  • Fennel essential oil: 6 drops
  • Juniper essential oil: 6 drops
  • Rosemary essential oil: 6 drops
  • Patchouli essential oil: 6 drops
  • Wheat Germ oil :60 ml

Mix the above ingredients and put in small storage containers.  Apply 2-3 times daily for maximum effect.

Water Retention Blend

Ingredients

  • Fennel essential oil: 5 drops
  • Juniper essential oil: 7 drops
  • Grapefruit essential oil: 7 drops
  • Avocado oil or Sweet Almond: 30 ml

Blend all the above ingredients above.  The mixture can be used for massages for a period of 6 weeks. Always shake thoroughly before use to ensure the blend is correct.

Anti-wrinkle Moisturizer.

Ingredients

  • Fennel essential oil: 5 drops
  • Rose essential oil: 5 drops
  • Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
  • Jojoba essential oil: 1 oz

Combine all the above ingredients to make your own both day and night anti-wrinkle skin moisturizer.

Lighten and fade age brown spots

Inspiration

The following are 3 inspirations for using fennel essential oil.

Cuticle balm

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil1 Tbsp
  • Almond oil: 1 Tbsp
  • Shea butter: 1 Tbsp
  • Lavender: 10 drops
  • Pepper mint: 5 drops
  • Eucalyptus: 5 drops
  • Fennel: 5 drops
  • Sage: 5 drops

Melt the above ingredients in a boiler and put in small storage containers.  Pick one bottle at a time as you travel to use while away from home.  Apply on cuticles 4 times a day after washing your hands.

Lotion Bar

Ingredients

Coconut essential oil: ¼ cup

Almond essential oil: ¼ cup

Bees wax: ¼ cup

Fennel essential oil: 10 drops

Lemon essential oil: 10 drops

Mix and melt all the ingredients, pour the mixture inside a container and let it set for a day.

Body Butter

Ingredients

  • Coconut essential oil: ¼ cup
  • Jojoba essential oil: ¼ cup
  • Shea butter: ½ cup
  • Fennel essential oil: 10 drops
  • Lemon
  • Combine and heat the first 3 ingredients, whip the mixture until stiff as you add the fennel oil and lemon.

Conclusion

Fennel oil is both popular for its medicinal and culinary uses.  Anethole and estragole are main compounds in the oil that are molecules active in having oestrogenic, antithombotic and acaricidal functions.    Several experiments have shown that the compounds have potent antioxidant function.

The oil like other essential oils, can be applied aromatically, topically and internally. Topical application involves rubbing the oil on the affected area and the effects are soothing.  Bathing with soaps with fennel properties has similar effects as rubbing.  Though caution should be taken when taking the oil orally, it is considered safe.  Internal use aids in digestion of food in the stomach.  It is ideal in treatment of menstrual and digestive pain. It can also be put in salads but in strictly small amounts.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.