What are fennel seeds? Fennel seeds are the edible seeds of a plant from the same family as celery, carrots, and parsley. Native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, fennel has been used for centuries in food and medicine (16). Fennel oil is derived from the seeds of the fennel plant through steam distillation. It is pale yellow in color and has a sweet, spicy smell. It contains a variety of compounds, including anethole, limonene, and estragole (1). These compounds may have a variety of beneficial health effects.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Fennel Oil?
Fennel oil has many uses on its own and is often combined with other essential oils for even greater benefits. Here are some of the top benefits associated with fennel oil:
Soothe Digestive Issues
Fennel oil is a volatile oil. That means it can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Coupled with its active compounds, fennel is thought to be an effective treatment for digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and indigestion.
The oil works as a carminative to help expel gas, reduce bloating and aid in digestion (10).
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also find fennel beneficial. Fennel is often found in medications that are intended to treat abdominal pain and other symptoms associated with IBS (2).
Gut spasms are painful contractions that can cause significant discomfort (18). They are often caused by indigestion and can be extremely uncomfortable.
Fennel oil’s volatile compounds may help reduce abdominal pain and relax the muscles of the digestive tract, alleviating spasms.
Fennel oil is packed with active compounds that can help reduce inflammation and may ease pain. These compounds are especially good at reducing inflammation in the gut, which may be helpful for people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammation is a leading contributor to many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes (19). Research suggests that fennel oil may be able to help reduce inflammation, thanks to one compound in particular, anethole.
Anethole has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, and studies in animals suggest it may be effective at reducing inflammation associated with cancer. It specifically targets cytokines, which are small proteins that play a role in inflammation (6).
Fennel oil has antimicrobial characteristics. One study published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal found that fennel oil contains compounds with strong antimicrobial properties (7).
These compounds include trans-anethole, methyl chavicol, and fenchone.
Because of its antimicrobial properties, fennel oil can help support the immune system, protect against infections and may even fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Fennel oil is often used topically to help speed up wound healing. Its antiseptic properties can help fight off infections and reduce the risk of infection. It may also be beneficial in treating sunburns, rashes, and other skin irritations.
Fennel oil’s benefits for skin don’t stop there. It also contains compounds that are thought to help reduce wrinkles and make skin look more youthful. This is due to its antioxidant properties, which can help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors(3).
Killing Intestinal Parasites
Fennel oil is said to be effective against a variety of intestinal parasites, including hookworm and roundworm. It may do this by disrupting the parasite’s life cycle, ultimately killing the worms (5).
By doing so, it prevents the parasites from reproducing and reduces the risk of infection. Children who are susceptible to intestinal parasites may benefit from taking fennel oil, but speak to your child’s pediatrician before giving it to them.
Fennel oil contains phystoestrogens, which have weak estrogen-like activity in the body. . This may make it beneficial for women who experience irregular periods, hormonal imbalances or menopausal symptoms (14).
One study in 2012 found that fennel helped reduce period pain in young women (12).
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Fennel oil is a widely used galactagogue, meaning it is believed to help to increase milk production in lactating women. However, the scientific evidence behind this use is not conclusive (16).
Furthermore, some of the carminative and antispasmodic properties of fennel oil might pass through the mother’s milk and soothe the baby’s stomach, however excessive use may be harmful, so speak to your doctor before using supplements to promote lactation.
Fennel oil is also a natural diuretic, meaning it can help to flush toxins and excess fluid out of the body. Research in animals suggests that it increases urine production, which can help the body to get rid of unwanted substances, such as excess sodium and potassium (4). This can help lower blood pressure, reduce bloating and prevent water retention (13).
Research suggests that fennel oil can help reduce stress and anxiety . One reason could be because of its calming scent. Diffusing fennel oil can have a relaxing effect and help reduce stress levels, making it a good choice for aromatherapy.
Fennel Oil Side Effects And Cautions
In general, fennel oil is safe to use. However, there are some contra-indications that you should be aware of.
Fennel oil contains trans-anethole, which is thought to have many health benefits. However, pregnant women should avoid this oil as it can have estrogen-like activity, which may interfere with fetal growth and development or even be toxic to fetal cells at high doses (15).
Women at risk of hormone-related cancers and tumors, such as breast and uterine cancer, should also avoid fennel oil due to its phytoestrogen content.
Like any other essential oil, you can be allergic to fennel oil. If you experience any adverse reactions such as swelling, itching or hives while using this oil, discontinue use and consult a doctor. People who are allergic to celery, carrot, or mugwort should also avoid fennel.
How Should You Use Fennel Oil For Most Benefits?
Fennel oil is a versatile and powerful oil that can be used in many ways to benefit your health. Here’s your guide to using fennel oil for the best results:
Fennel oil is often used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and improve mood. Add a few drops of fennel oil to an essential oil diffuser, or mix it with a carrier oil and use it in massage.
Fennel oil is often used topically to treat skin conditions like eczema and acne. It can also be used to reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis (8). Simply mix a few drops into a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut oil, and apply directly to the affected area.
Fennel oil can be consumed orally in small amounts. It’s thought to aid digestion, reduce gas, and relieve cramps. Add a few drops to warm water, soup or tea, or mix it into a smoothie.
Fennel oil can be used to promote healthy hair growth and reduce dandruff. Mix it into a hair mask or oil blend, and apply to the scalp.
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Fennel oil is antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral, making it an excellent natural household cleaner. Simply add a few drops to your favorite homemade cleaning solution.
By using fennel oil in these ways you could experience a variety of benefits.
Which Oils Blend Well With Fennel Oil?
Blending oils is often a great way to amplify the therapeutic effects of each oil. It’s also a great way to create a unique scent. Oils that blend well with fennel oil are:
- Sandalwood – Sandalwood oil has a sweet, woody aroma and its earthy scent compliments fennel oil nicely.
- Geranium – Geranium oil has a floral and herbaceous aroma which pairs well with the spicy notes of fennel oil.
- Rosemary – Rosemary oil has an herbal and slightly medicinal scent that adds depth to fennel oil.
- Lavender – Lavender oil has a sweet, floral aroma that blends well with the spicy, anise-like aroma of fennel oil.
How To Choose Fennel Oil
When choosing a fennel oil, look for an organic, cold-pressed product that is 100% pure and free from additives. Remember to always store your essential oils in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
Should You Use A Fennel Oil Supplement?
Fennel oil can be a beneficial supplement to incorporate into your diet. It has many potential health benefits, including helping to reduce bloating, improve digestion, and provide relief from indigestion (17).
It may also help reduce inflammation in the body, as well as muscle spasms and cramping (9).
While its benefits are clearly appealing, it’s important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before taking a fennel oil supplement. This is especially true if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a health condition, or are taking any medications.
Fennel oil is generally considered safe for most people to consume in small amounts, but it can interact with certain medications and have other side effects.
If you decide to take a fennel oil supplement, make sure to follow the directions on the product label. Additionally, it’s best to start with a small dose and increase gradually over time as directed by a healthcare provider.
Taking too much fennel oil can cause side effects like headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
The Bottom Line
Fennel oil has many potential benefits, including aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, and antimicrobial properties. Not only is it ingestible, but you can also apply it topically.
However, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking a fennel oil supplement to make sure it is safe for you. If your doctor approves, start with a small dose and gradually increase as directed.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 11 Proven Fennel Essential Oil Benefits (2016, healthyfocus.org)
- 15 Impressive Benefits Of Fennel (2016, organicfacts.net)
- 16 Amazing Home Remedies for Younger Looking Skin… (2023, lifesaving health.org)
- 7 Best Natural Diuretics Based on Current Research (2019, dietvsdisease.org)
- Anthelmintic Effects of the Essential Oil of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill., Apiaceae) against Schistosoma mansoni (2015, nih.gov)
- Antihyper Nociceptive activity of anethole in experimental inflammatory pain (2013, nih.gov)
- Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of fennel oil (2022, researchgate.net)
- Best Oils for Arthritis (2023, arthritis.org)
- CBD Oil for Muscle Spasms: Is Cannabidiol an Effective Treatment? (2022, cfah.org)
- Digestive System (2023, clevelandclinic.org)
- Does fennel has a protective effect against cigarette smoke exposure in rat pulmonary and testicular tissues? Does consumption of Pimpinella anisum associated with testicular damage? (2013, researchgate.net)
- Effect of fennel on pain intensity in dysmenorrhoea: A placebo-controlled trial (2012, ayujournal.org)
- Effect of Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) on symptoms of depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomised controlled trial (2018, pubmed.gov)
- Effect of Phytoestrogen (Fennel) on Some Sex Hormones and Other Physiological Parameters in Male Albino Rats (2019, researchgate.net)
- Evaluation of the teratogenicity of fennel essential oil (FEO) on the rat embryo limb buds culture (2004, pubmed.gov)
- Fennel (2023, nih.gov)
- Foods That Help Reduce Bloating (2016, clevelandclinic.org)
- Gastroparesis (2023, mayoclinic.org)
- Inflammation: A unifying theory of disease? (2023, harvard.edu)
- Quantitative and qualitative responses in chemical composition of three ecotypes of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) cultivated in Iran climatic conditions (2016, researchgate.net)
- The effect of fennel essential oil on uterine contraction as a model for dysmenorrhea, pharmacology and toxicology study (2001, researchgate.net)