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Fennel is an age-old herb that has been used in Indian cuisine for centuries. Because the plant has a taste that is similar to anise seeds, it is both sweet and savory – making it a go-to ingredient for dishes like curries and stews. But besides being a wonderful addition to nearly any form of eastern style cooking, this herb can – and has, also been used throughout the ages for its strong medicinal properties.
Historically speaking, the fennel plant is native to southern parts of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, however, due to its growth in popularity over the years, the plant has also been cultivated in parts of Australia, parts of Northern Africa and even North America. Fennel has also become extremely popular due to the fact that it grows tremendously quickly and easily.
Fennel has been used in drought-stricken areas for many years as it helps to nourish and replenish the dry, damaged and acidic soil. Furthermore, the common herb is also generally used in between yields to help the soil retain its nutrients as well as increase its water retention ratio. The web-like network of roots created by the plant also helps to bind the soil, which helps to prevent wind damage but can also be used to help prevent the damage caused by flooding in wetter regions or climates.
Sweet fennel is known to have a taste that is similar to licorice in many ways and is often used in a variety of desserts and even alcoholic beverages to add a distinct flavor. However, many have also noted that sweet fennel and the seeds of the sweet fennel plant can be brewed to make a strong, herbal tea which can help to alleviate the symptoms of minor pain as well as reducing the symptoms of high blood pressure. Similarly, fennel has also been used in the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine for these reasons for quite some time and for many, it’s a much healthier alternative than taking large doses of often addictive or potentially harmful painkillers.
But sweet fennel oil has more, far-reaching health benefits that can be used in a variety of different ways to help treat or alleviate the symptoms of these issues. The herb is especially effective when used in conjunction with the appropriate medication and I would generally recommend that you use sweet fennel to help treat the side-effects of conventional medication if you’re dealing with a more serious, chronic illness.
That being said, holistic medicine can achieve quite a lot granted that you lead a healthy lifestyle to begin with and haven’t become too dependant on pharmaceutical drugs i.e. your immune system still functions relatively well on its own. For many though, the idea of fending off illness and infection with healthy, plant-based supplements is a better idea than relying solely on antibiotics, as this approach to medicine is a lot like nuking your system – on one hand you do manage to treat the illness/infection but often at a greater cost to your overall health. With antibiotic-resistant bugs on the rise, strengthening our body's natural defenses has become a more pressing and urgent issue – as the spread of these viruses could be devastating for our species as a whole.
If you have ever bought a massive fennel from the market you may have wondered if there is anything you can do with all of those subtlety flavored fennel fronds. #sustainableliving #fennel #lesswaste https://t.co/CwvwQSyLlG via @wholefoodbellie
— The Unlikely Baker (@unlikely_baker) January 31, 2018
How is Sweet Fennel Oil Made?
The health benefits of sweet fennel oil are a lot stronger than the plant simply because the oil is a more concentrated form of the all the active phytonutrients and chemical compounds contained within the leaves, stem, and root of the plant itself. As with many essential oils, the process that is used to create them is the same that has been used for hundreds of years, namely steam distillation. Steam distillation is a process whereby various nutrients and organic compounds can be separated from organic matter through a process of heat and steam separation.
In the steam distillation process, the organic material (in this case, sweet fennel plants) are added to a large vat which is filled with boiling water and is usually heated by either a coal or gas fire or through a mechanism that is much the same as an electric urn. The temperatures created in this vat are high, often just under or around 100 C (basically, boiling point) and the organic matter is added to this vat for well over 5 hours. During this time, the organic matter is broken down by the heat in the vat and the hot water helps to release the phytochemicals and various nutrient rich molecules that are contained within the organic matter (as heat is known to help break down cell walls).
The result is that the water becomes a strong, nutrient-rich brew – much like a tea, containing all the various chemical parts that are found in the plant itself. However, in steam distillation, the evaporation of steam helps to draw these vital chemical compounds out of the water. The vat is connected to a separate cooling chamber with a higher pressure than that of the boiling vat.
Because of this pressure difference, and the build-up of steam in the boiling vat, the now nutrient-rich steam is forced through a small pipe that draws the steam into the cooling chamber. Here, the steam condenses and helps to form droplets which gather in the chamber to form the essential oil of the plant matter that was used in the boiling vat – in this case, sweet fennel. There is another method that is commonly used to extract the vital nutrients of plant matter, but this involves the use of industrial grade hydrocarbon solvents and does not produce a pure final product – but rather an extract.
While these types of extracts are often used in a variety of products (such as personal products and household cleaning products), they are generally not considered safe for ingestion or topical use as many of the chemical solvents used in the separation process are still contained in the finished product – which may pose a threat to your health or cause an allergic reaction when used on a regular basis. For this reason, it’s best to stick with a pure, steam distilled or cold-pressed oil rather than a chemical extract.
Sweet Fennel Essential Oil for Breastfeeding and Babies
When it comes to using essential oils during pregnancy or on infants (children under the age of 7), we always recommend that you consult a doctor before using these products on a regular basis. While most essential oils are generally considered to be safe for use on pregnant women or young children for that matter, the truth is that they are potent natural concentrates. As a result, they may have unforeseen consequences on a women’s hormonal balance during pregnancy or on a young child, who is still sensitive to the effects of external stimulants and medications/medicinal treatments. However, while this rule should be applied to all essential oils (rather be safe than sorry), there's still a wide variety of essential oils that are largely considered safe for use during pregnancy and on young infants.
Thankfully, sweet fennel oil is one of these essential oils and its use during pregnancy and for a range of postpartum issues is well known amongst new mothers. Sweet fennel oil is known to be a potent natural galactagogue, which essentially means that it can help to increase the amount of estrogen in a woman's body which means that she’s better equipped to produce more milk for her child during breastfeeding and richer, more nutrient filled milk at that.
Sweet fennel oil can also be applied to your baby's stomach to help ease any digestive issues. In fact, sweet fennel oil is known to help relieve stomach cramps and increase your baby's ability to pass gas or get their digestive system working again should they become constipated.
The common oil has also been found to help induce restful sleep with young children (in case your child is waking you up in the middle of the night) and should be applied to their pillow and blankets to help lull them into a more peaceful night’s sleep – ensuring that your child is healthier – as sleep is well known to help improve a child’s immune system and balance out their hormones, resulting in less hyperactivity or the formation of bad sleeping patterns or even eating disorders.
Sweet Fennel Essential Oil for Weight loss
When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process and that there are no products, natural or synthetic, that can help you lose weight entirely on their own. If you aren’t monitoring your diet and exercising regularly, you’ll struggle to lose weight. That being said, since sweet fennel oil is known to be a natural metabolic stimulant, it can be used to help aid you during the weight loss process.
Just know that this will most likely also stimulate your appetite when used on a regular basis, so be sure to have a carb/calorie friendly snack on hand during the day in case the hunger pangs get to you. You don’t want to be swayed into eating a product that is bad for you or not in line with your diet if you’re trying to lose weight.
However, some users have stated that sweet fennel oils helps to suppress their appetite as well, which means that if you’re part of this lucky group, you can benefit from the metabolic effects of the essential oil as well as being able to curb your appetite over the course of the day.
Sweet fennel oil can also be added to juices or smoothies (or simply ingested raw in small amounts) to help control your cholesterol levels. The oil is known for being able to break up and dissolve the fat molecules that occur in your bloodstream and can ultimately reduce your LDL count (or low density lipoproteins) which are considered the ‘bad cholesterol’ and are often the biggest factors in contributing towards heart disease.
— Monica Fernandes (@evolutionmaker) January 31, 2018
Sweet Fennel Essential Oil for Skin
Firstly, one of the most important aspects of this oil is that it’s a strong natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent. This means that the oil works well to rid the surface of your skin of any bacteria or fungal/yeast infections that lead to irritations such as rashes, dryness, itchiness as well as general redness and other common dermatophytes (skin related bacteria) that cause more specific infections such as the Staphylococcus Aureus.
A staph infection is a very serious form of a topical skin infection that generally infects open wounds which can sometimes even be life-threatening (septic) if left untreated. So it is imperative that you use a strong antiseptic treatment on any wounds while dressing them (and over the course of the healing process) as this will help to prevent the onset of an infection of this nature.
However, sweet fennel oil can also be used to help treat more commonly contracted bacterial infections such as athlete’s foot. The oil is non-toxic, so can be applied to open wounds without the worry of worsening the infection or poisoning. Some of the key active ingredients in Sweet Fennel essential oil are Alpha Pinene, 1,8- Cineole, Limonene, and Camphor, which give it minor, but nonetheless applicable, cicatrisant properties. This means that it helps to stimulate cell regeneration and ultimately heal wounds, scars, and scabs faster.
These same antiseptic and antibacterial qualities can be used to treat your face as the oil can be applied to cut through the excess sebum oil produced by oily skin types and help clear your pores from being blocked as well as removing excess skin cells that also lead to pore blockage. The cicatrisant qualities of the oil allow your pores and acne scars to heal which also allows your skin to naturally regulate the amount of oil it produces, giving your skin more time to heal. The oil also smells great and can be used as a natural fragrance or deodorant – as it will kill off any bacteria that may linger under your ‘pits’ and leave you smelling fresh for hours, without the downside of stained shirts or sticky underarms.
Side Effects of Sweet Fennel Essential
As I mentioned before, it’s always advisable to consult a doctor before using any essential oils during a pregnancy as different people might have different reactions to the oil and certain oils are more potent than others. The same applies to children under the age of 6 – a doctor should be consulted first, and if everything checks out, follow a regulated and relatively light dosage at first.
Generally speaking, sweet fennel essential oil is considered safe for use. However, there is always the risk that you may have an allergy to the oil or that you may be using too much of it at any given time – but this is rare unless you really are using large amounts of the stuff on a regular basis.
The common signs related to excessive consumption or ingestion of Sweet Fennel oil are vomiting, headaches, nausea, convulsions, and hallucinations – although you have to take quite an excessive amount of the oil to induce any of these symptoms. However, if any of the above do occur, stop taking the oil immediately, drink plenty of water and seek medical advice immediately (or as soon as possible).