Fennel

18/Description

About

Fennel is a perennial, pleasant-smelling herb with yellow flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but is now found throughout the world. Dried fennel seeds are often used in cooking as an anise-flavored spice. But don't confuse fennel with anise; though they look and taste similar, they are not the same. Fennel's dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine.

Fennel is used for various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants. It is also used for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs, bronchitis, cholera, backache, bedwetting, and visual problems.

Some women use fennel for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive.

Fennel powder is used as a poultice for snakebites.

In foods and beverages, fennel oil is used as a flavoring agent.

In other manufacturing processes, fennel oil is used as a flavoring agent in certain laxatives, and as a fragrance component in soaps and cosmetics.

How it works

Fennel might relax the colon and decrease respiratory tract secretions.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Colic in breast-fed infants

Research suggests that giving fennel seed oil can relieve colic in infants 2-12 weeks old. Also, breast-fed infants with colic who are given a specific multi-ingredient product containing fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile (ColiMil) cry for a shorter period of time than other infants with colic. In addition, giving a specific tea containing fennel, chamomile, vervain, licorice, and balm-mint (Calma-Bebi, Bonomelli) can reduce colic severity in infants.

Concerns

Likely safe

Fennel is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food. For the most part, there is not enough evidence to know whether it is safe for adults when used in medicinal amounts.Some people can have allergic skin reactions to fennel. People who are allergic to plants such as celery, carrot, and mugwort are more likely to also be allergic to fennel. Fennel can also make skin extra sensitive to sunlight and make it easier to get a sunburn. Wear sunblock if you are light-skinned.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using fennel duringpregnancy. It's best to avoid use.

During breast-feeding, fennel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It's been reported that two breast-feeding infants experienced damage to their nervous systems after their mothers drank an herbal tea that contained fennel.

Children: For the most part, there is not enough evidence to know whether it is safe for children when used in medicinal amounts. However, researchers have studied a combination product (ColiMil) for colic that contains fennel, lemon balm, and German chamomile. This product seems to be safe in infants when used for up to one week.

Allergy to celery, carrot or mugwort: Fennel might cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to these plants.

Bleeding disorders: Fennel might slow blood clotting. Taking fennel might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Fennel might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use fennel.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Fennel might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But fennel isn't as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking fennel along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with fennel, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) is an antibiotic. Fennel might decrease how much ciprofloxacin (Cipro) the body absorbs. Taking fennel along with ciprofloxacin (Cipro) might decrease the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin (Cipro). To avoid this interaction, take fennel at least one hour after ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)

Large amounts of fennel might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But fennel isn't as strong as estrogen pills. Taking fennel along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Fennel might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking fennel along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking fennel, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Medications that might be affected include certain heart medications called some calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nicardipine, verapamil), chemotherapeutic agents (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine), antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole), glucocorticoids, alfentanil (Alfenta), cisapride (Propulsid), fentanyl (Sublimaze), lidocaine (Xylocaine), losartan (Cozaar), fexofenadine (Allegra), midazolam (Versed), and others.Fennel might slow blood clotting. Taking fennel along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Fennel seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. Taking fennel along with tamoxifen might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take fennel if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.