Foeniculum vulgare Mill

Family ► Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat ► Native to the Mediterranean region; now cultivated mainly in Punjab, Assam, Maharashtra and Vadodara (Gujarat).

English ► Fennel. (Poison hemlock has been misidentified as fennel.)

Ayurvedic ► Mishreyaa, Mishi, Mad-hurikaa, Madhuraa, Shatapushpaa, Shataahvaa. (Shatpushpaa is equated with Saunf and Shataahvaa with Soyaa. Some authors treat these as vice-versa.)

Unani ► Baadiyaan, Saunf.

Action ► Carminative, stomachic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, galactagogue, anti-inflammatory, diuretic. Relieves bloating, nausea, settles stomach and stimulates appetite. Also used in amenorrhoea and enuresis.

Key application ► In dyspepsias such as mild, spastic, gastrointestinal afflictions, fullness, flatulence. Fennel syrup or honey can be used for the catarrh of the upper respiratory tract in children. Fennel oil preparations not recommended during pregnancy. (German Commission E, ESCOP, WHO.)

German Commission E reported that fennel seed promotes gastrointestinal motility and in higher concentrations acts as antispasmodic. In experiments anethole and fenchone have been shown to have a secre-tolytic action in respiratory tract. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia report its carminative and spasmolytic property.

Fennel seed contain about 8% volatile oil (about 50-60% anethole, among others 10-15% fenchone and methyl-chavicol), flavonoids, coumarins (including bergapten) and sterols.

The extract of seeds inhibits the growth of micro-organism, especially Streptococcus mutans, that are responsible for dental caries and periodontal diseases.

The essential oil from the seed is reported to be antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, emmenagogue, oxytocic and abortifacient.

The fatty acid, petroselenic acid, obtained from the oil, exhibited antimicrobial activity.

Anethole, a major constituent of fennel seed/oil has been found to be an active estrogenic agent with minimal hepatotoxicity and no teratogenic effect.

272 Fraxinus griffithii Clarke.

The oil also exhibits anticarcino-genic activity and can be used as a che-moprotective agent.

It possesses antioxidant activity close to BHT.

Anethole and limonene are used in pharmaceutical compositions for decreasing the side effects of chemotherapy and increasing the immune function.

Limonene showed the capacity to inhibit mammary tumours in rats.

The boiling water extract of leaves shows hypotensive effect in rats.

The methanolic extract of seed showed antispasmodic activity, while aqueous extract accelerated the spontaneous movement of rabbit stomach.

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