It also flavours some brandy-based drinks, whilst the leaves are an important culinary herb.
Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and the genus Foeniculum. Its a perennial herb and grows up to a height of 2.5 m tall. The plant plays a vital role in the food culture of certain European countries like France and Italy.
A high source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibres, the beneficial effects of fennels have been known since ages. To give you a better idea about the diverse health benefits of consuming the vegetable, a list of the medicinal effects of fennel is given below:
Anaemia: Iron and Histidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are helpful in treatment of anaemia. Where iron is chief constituent of haemoglobin, Histidine stimulates production of haemoglobin and also helps forming other components of blood.
Indigestion: Some of the components of the essential oils in fennel stimulate secretion of digestive and gastric juices, reducing inflammation of stomach and intestines while easing proper absorption of nutrients from the food. It is extensively used in antacid preparations. It is an appetizer too.
Flatulence: Fennel is most popular as an anti flatulent, due to the carminative properties of Aspartic acid found in fennel.
Constipation: Fennel seeds, in powdered form, act as laxative.
Diarrhea: Fennel is helpful in curing diarrhoea if caused by bacteria, as some components of essential oils in fennel such as Anetol, Cineole etc. have disinfectant and anti bacterial properties.
Colic: Anethole, a component in fennel, is helpful in treating Renal Colic.
Respiratory Disorders: Fennel is useful in respiratory disorders such congestion, bronchitis, cough etc. due to presence of Cineole and Anetol.
Menstrual Disorders: Fennel also eases and regulates menstruation by regulating hormonal action properly in the body.
Eye Care: While the antioxidants in fennel help protect eyes from inflammation, disorders related to aging, macular degeneration etc., the juice of fennel leaves and the plant can be externally applied on the eyes to reduce irritation and fatigue of eyes.
Other Benefits: Fennel is diuretic, i.e. increases amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping removal of toxic substances from the body and helping in rheumatism, swelling etc. It also increases production and secretion of milk in lactating mothers. It strengthens hair, prevents hair fall, relaxes body, sharpens memory and has a marvellous cooling effect in summer if the pale greenish-yellow water, in which it is soaked, is taken with a bit of sugar and black-salt.