While we all are aware of the wonderful flavor of fennel, fennel essential oil is not very well-known. This aromatic essential oil offers a vast array of health benefits.
Fennel essential oil acts as a stimulant for the digestive, nervous and excretory system and the endocrine and exocrine glands.
It also offers antifungal, antiseptic, carminative, diuretic and expectorant properties. Read on to learn more about fennel essential oil.
What is fennel essential oil?
Fennel essential oil is extracted through steam distillation from the seeds of the fennel herb (Foeniculum Vulgare). The fennel plant is a part of the Apiaceae family.
It is native to southern Europe but is also grown in parts of Northern Europe, Australia, and North America. Fennel essential oil has a sweet and licorice-like aroma and is pale yellow to brownish –yellow in color.
The name ‘Fennel’ comes from the Latin word ‘feonum,’ which means hay. There are two subspecies of fennel – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce (sweet fennel) and Foeniculum vulgare var. amara (bitter fennel). Sweet fennel is gentler in nature and is used in aromatherapy.
The primary chemical constituents of fennel essential oil include methyl chavicol or estragole. It also contains alpha pinene, limonene, and trans-anethole.
History of fennel essential oil
Fennel has a rich history of culinary and medicinal use. It was used extensively in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India. The Greeks were the first to recognize the diuretic properties of fennel oil and used it as a slimming aid.
The Roman soldiers used fennel to suppress their appetite during periods of fast or during long periods of travel.
Fennel was also believed to help enhance strength and longevity, so it was used by athletes while training for Olympic games.
When Pheidippides was on a mission to recruit soldiers for the battle of Marathon with Persia in 490 BC, he carried a fennel stalk during this 150-mile run to Sparta. This battle was waged on a field of fennel.
In India, a concoction of fennel oil and ill oil is also used to relieve colic in Indians. Fennel essential oil was used as a remedy for snake bites by the Chinese.
Benefits of fennel essential oil
1. Treats digestive problems
Fennel oil has been used for centuries to treat digestive issues. The carminative properties of this oil soothe the stomach. Fennel essential oil is also a natural antispasmodic, which helps ease stomach cramps.
2. Helps cure fungal and yeast infections
Fennel essential has potent antifungal properties. Several studies have shown that it is highly effective in treating fungal and yeast infections. It can treat common infections caused by Candida albicans and also other infection of hair, nails, and skin.
Add some drops of fennel oil to your hand cream or shampoo and use it daily. You can also mix some fennel oil with a carrier oil and apply it on the affected areas.
3. Lowers stress and anxiety
Fennel essential oil can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. This oil induces a feeling of tranquillity and relaxation, which helps in lifting your spirits. You can use this oil to relax after a long and stressful day. It is also beneficial for people who experience depression.
During a 2014 study, mice were given either fennel essential oil or diazepam. The results showed that the mice treated with fennel oil showed more improvement in levels of anxiety than diazepam (1).
Diffuse this oil in your home or office. You can also add a few fennel oil drops to your pillow for better sleep.
4 Heals wounds
Fennel essential oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that protect wounds from getting infected. It can also prevent tetanus infection in incisions, particularly after surgeries.
According to research from the University of Pisa, fennel essential oil is effective against several bacterial strains. It prevents bacterial infections in the breasts of animals. This oil also helps to protect wounds from infections (2).
5. Aids detoxification
Fennel essential oil aids detoxification. Its diuretic properties promote urination, and its stimulating properties promote sweating. These processes help get rid of excess salt, uric acid, toxins, bile and water from the body.
Fennel oil is also a hepatoprotective agent. The limonene and myrcene content in this oil play an important role in protecting the liver from toxins (3).
To detoxify your liver mix two drops of sweet fennel oil in water and drink it in the morning. You can also apply this oil in your wrists and feet before you go to sleep.
6. Reduces muscle spasms
Muscular spasms in the gut can be extremely uncomfortable and can cause cramps, hiccups, and coughing. Fennel essential oil can have a relaxing effect on the body and can provide quick relief from spasms in the abdominal area.
According to a 2003 study from Russia, fennel essential oil can reduce intestinal spasms and increase motility in the small intestine. The study also showed that fennel essential oil emulsion is effective in reducing colic in infants (4).
Fennel essential oil is an emmenagogue. It helps deal with irregular or obstructed menstruation and relieves severe dysmenorrhea. It also provides relief from other symptoms of menstruation like headaches, dizziness and mood swings and prevents premature menopause in women.
According to a 2013 study from Iran, fennel contains antispasmodic and anethol agents that are effective in reducing the severity of dysmenorrhea (5).
Blend two or three drops of fennel essential oil with a suitable carrier oil and massage it on to the abdomen.
8. Helps in weight loss
Fennel essential oil boosts metabolism and suppresses appetite. It can also reduce fat deposits in the bloodstream by using stored energy sources. It also helps in the detoxification process, which helps get rid of toxins in the body and aids in faster weight loss.
Add one or two drops of fennel oil to a glass of water and drink it before your meals to reduce appetite and to improve digestion.
9. Treats respiratory problems
Fennel essential oil is an excellent expectorant, which helps to clear throat and nasal congestions. It helps clear the deposition of mucus in the nasal tract, larynx, pharynx, bronchi, and lungs that cause difficulty in breathing and cough.
Fennel oil also helps in the contraction of the muscles of the windpipe, which allows in the expectoration of mucus, bacteria and the dust particles from the respiratory tract (6).
Add three drops of fennel oil and three drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale its vapors.
10. Improves skin health
Fennel oil has been used since ancient times to improve skin tone and to clear acne and pimples. It is rich in antioxidants, which helps in removing wrinkles and bags under the eye and keep the skin looking young. It also helps to tone and moisturize the skin.
Add four or five drops of fennel oil to a bowl of boiling water and let the vapor cover your face. You can also apply diluted fennel oil to your face.
Ways to use fennel essential oil
Always make sure you buy 100 % pure and organic sweet fennel oil. You can use this oil in several different ways.
You can diffuse fennel essential oil with a diffuser. You can also add 2 to 3 drops of this oil in hot water and inhale the vapor.
Dilute fennel oil in a carrier oil like coconut oil before you use it topically. Do a patch test on a small part of your skin before you use it for massage.
Dilute one or two drops of fennel oil in a glass of water an ingest it. Always check with a physician before you use any essential oil internally.
Side effects and precautions
Fennel essential oil can cause skin irritation and adverse skin reactions in some people. So you must always do a skin patch test before you start using this oil.
Fennel essential oil can also affect estrogen levels. It can stimulate menstrual flow so pregnant women should avoid using it. Women with uterine cancer, breast cancer, and tumors should also not use this oil.
Consuming too much fennel oil can cause convulsions and hallucinations. People who have epilepsy should avoid using this oil.
Fennel oil is steam distilled from the seeds of the fennel herb which is a part of the Apiaceae family. It has a sweet, licorice-like aroma and is pale yellow to brownish –yellow in color.
Fennel oil has strong antifungal, antiseptic, carminative, diuretic and expectorant properties. It has a rich history of culinary and medical use.
It was used by ancient Chinese as a remedy for snake bites. The Greeks used it as a slimming aid. Fennel essential oil is used to treat digestive and respiratory problems.
It cures bacterial infections, lowers stress, aids in detoxification and improves skin health.