Herb of the Month: Fennel

Herb of the month: Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

I have been so inspired as I walk the little path along the creek to my office. Part of my mission in my move was to be able to not be in a car to get to work. So far I have mostly walked (except for when we were bringing over the books and such!). Along this path, there is an enormous amount of wild fennel. It has grown to be about six feet tall, and the smell of fennel as I walk along is intoxicating. Yesterday on my way home I picked some, and thought about all the people who could be helped by fennel if only they knew it was here and how to use it.

Fennel’s medicinal properties include being antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant and stimulant.

Fennel is a carminative (calming) to the stomach and is great for flatulent colic or diarrhea in infants. Not only for infants, but it is wonderful at calming adult stomachs too, especially when there is gas and gripping pain in the bowels.

It is also used to increase milk supply in new mothers.

The tea can also be used to treat inflammatory conditions of the external eye, e.g. blepharitis or conjunctivitis with swelling of the lids.

For chronic coughs, fennel may be used in making cough syrups.

To use fennel for stomach upset or colic, take the dried seeds from the flowers and crush them with the back of a spoon, mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder. Use approximately 1 teaspoon of seed per cup of water. For adults, you can make it twice as strong, but even a weak decoction of fennel will help upset stomachs. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over seeds and cover. Steep for 20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature for infants or to treat eye conditions.

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