ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fennel: Culinary Uses and Health Benefits, Especially Regarding Women

Updated on September 15, 2016
beverley byer profile image

Beverley has a degree in Science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

Fennel, called an herb and a vegetable, has creamy white bulbs, light green celery-like stalks, and fine needle-like green leaves called fronds. Its scientific name is Faeniculum vulgare and it belongs to the Apiaceae family. Fennel is a perennial plant, which means its life cycle continues from year to year. Origins can be traced back to the Mediterranean as early as 961 A.D. The plant later spread to India and other parts of the world. Varieties include common or wild, sweet, German, Russian, Indian, and Japanese. Fennel is available year-round, but best purchased between fall and spring.

Fresh fennel (plant)
Fresh fennel (plant) | Source

Culinary Uses

Fresh fennel should be selected unblemished with heavy bulbs, firm stalks, and green fronds. It can be refrigerated unwashed and in a plastic bag for up to 10 days. If there are tough outer layers on the bulb, they should be removed before cooking. The bottom should also be cut off. The rest of the herb/ vegetable could be chopped up or stalks separated like celery, depending on culinary use.

Bulbs and stalks can be eaten raw, grilled, roasted with other vegetables, meat, poultry or fish, combined with pasta, added to salads, stews, and soups or served with dips. Fronds and seeds can be used as seasonings. Seeds can also be brewed for tea. Whatever meal you prepare, odor will be fragrant, and taste will be refreshingly sweet with a crunchy texture, depending on cooking time. Fennel’s flavor is similar to anise and licorice.

Health Benefits, Especially Regarding Women

Fennel is loaded with phytoestrogens -chemical compounds that act like the hormone estrogen, which is necessary for several functions in the female body, especially regarding sex and fertility. Because of the way these estrogen-mimicking compounds work, fennel has been used:

- To increase a lethargic or non-existent libido.

- To treat amenorrhea: a woman’s lack of menstruation during her reproductive years.

- To decrease cramps.

- To increase the flow of milk in nursing moms.

- To enlarge breasts.

- To suppress menopausal symptoms: hot and cold flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings or irritability.

- As an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.

The phytoestrogens also promote strong bones and heart, lower the risk of strokes, and support weight loss by decreasing the appetite and increasing urination (so, good for those with water retention concerns as well).

Fennel is also rich in fiber, vitamins A, B-3 (niacin), B-9 (folate), C, and E, minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, and sodium, and low in cholesterol and fat. They help the phytoestrogens perform some of the functions mentioned as well as the following: treat colic in infants, bloating, flatulence, heartburn, other digestive ailments, respiratory concerns as asthma, bronchitis, coughs (fennel is often a component of cough medication), laryngitis, and sore throat, gout, vision, repair the digestive tract of cancer patients who had chemotherapy or radiation, and detoxify the liver and spleen.


Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds

Other Current and Ancient Uses for Fennel, Including Non-medicinal

Fennel is also currently used as poultice or tea for snake and insect bites. Non-medicinal uses include flavoring for food and beverages, fragrance in cosmetics and soaps, and flea deterrent. The ancients too used it for snake and insect bites. Ancient Romans used it as elixir for longevity. Europeans in the Middle Ages used it as a staple herb to aid the fast during the Lenten season, and to prevent witchcraft. They would hang it in their doorway to ward off evil spirits on Midsummer’s Eve: celebration of the beginning summer and longest day of the year.

Fennel Side Effects

Allergy would be a common side effect. Symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. According to www.webMD.com, the phytoestrogens could cause breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, fibroids or endometriosis in women who are sensitive to the estrogen compound. They could also reduce the effectiveness of contraceptives already containing estrogen as some birth control pills, and some antibiotics as Cipro.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • beverley byer profile imageAUTHOR

      Beverley Byer 

      8 years ago from United States of America

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, fennel is one of the best herbs.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Fennel is one of my favourite herbs. I am an organic gardener and I grow fennel at the base of fruit trees including apples, pears, cherries and plums.

      Not only do I get the benefit of fresh fennel and the seeds for using in the kitchen, but I discovered that fennel is a brilliant deterrent for garden pests including the cherry and pear slug. Just having it growing in the ground nearby keeps the bugs away.

      Lots of interesting info in the hub. Voted up +

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)