Fennel Oil (Sweet): Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
From enhancing memory power to treating various skin disorders, the fennel oil benefits are numerous. It is regarded as a significant oil in the history of essential oils.
On that note, let us unveil more about its health properties, medicinal compounds, uses, and lots more.
What Is Fennel Oil (Sweet)?
Sweet fennel oil is extracted from the seeds of the fennel plant (Foeniculum vulgare) and is known to have hundreds of vernacular names. During the extraction, the fennel seeds are dried and then, steam distilled. Globally known as fennel, the plant has been the part of traditional medicine since olden days.
Fennel belongs to the family called Apiaceae. It is a tall seasonal herb, which grows up to 5 feet. It has delicate and feathery leaves that look like lace. Its flowers are small and yellow.
The herb originated from the southern Mediterranean region. It flourishes better in the wild but can be cultivated in the fields as well. It is well naturalized and is found growing throughout the world, especially in Asia, North America, and Europe. (1)
The principal places of production are Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Bulgaria, Russia, Moldova, and Romania. Various studies have proved that the seeds have antioxidant, antitumor, chemopreventive, cytoprotective, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, and oestrogenic activities. (2, 3).
It has an aroma similar to aniseed essential oil and makes it an excellent flavoring agent in foods, particularly in baked goods, ice-creams, alcoholic beverages, meat, and fish dishes. The culinary uses of fennel seeds and fennel seed essential oil are widespread in various countries for centuries.
Scientific Name Of Fennel Oil
The botanical name of fennel is Foeniculum vulgare.
History Of Fennel Oil
The ancient Greeks and Romans used fennel extensively in cooking and medicine. They believed that daily consumption of fennel improved eyesight, eased menstrual problems, aided lactation, increased strength, and longevity.
It was cultivated in Greece 5000 years ago, and they called it Marathon. The term Marathon comes from “Mariano,” which means “to grow thin.” The Greeks used fennel to aid weight loss, and before the earliest Olympics events for gaining strength.
The Romans cultivated the fennel plants mainly for its seeds and shoots. The shoot of the plants are fleshy & edible, and they are still a ubiquitous vegetable in Southern Italy.
The Romans also used fennel during wars. It was used as an antidote for snake bites. It is believed that Emperor Charlemagne, who ruled a vast part of Western Europe, encouraged the cultivation of fennel in Western Europe.
Fennel seeds are an excellent appetite suppressor. King Edward I of England used it for this purpose. Also, the church mandated that people should use fennel to curb their appetite during fast.
Hippocrates used fennel seed essential oils for increasing lactation in nursing mothers. Fennel is still an indispensable ingredient in Italian and French cooking.
In Ayurveda, Fennel has an exclusive place because it pacifies all the three Doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Consumption of fennel seeds infused water is one of the common home remedies for menstrual problems in India.
Colour, Consistency, and Smell Of Fennel Oil
- The colour of Fennel (Sweet) oil is clear to pale yellow.
- The consistency of Fennel (Sweet) oil is thin.
- The smell of Fennel (Sweet) oil is warm, sweet, aniseed-like, and peppery.
Properties Of Fennel Essential Oil
The therapeutic properties of fennel (Sweet) essential oil include:
- Antimicrobial – Prevents microbial growth
- Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation
- Antiseptic – Destroys microbes and prevents further development
- Antispasmodic – Prevents or relieves spasms, convulsions, or contractions
- Carminative – Relieves flatulence, eases abdominal pain, and reduces bloating
- Depurative – Cleanser & detoxifier
- Diuretic – Promotes the removal of excess water from the body
- Emmenagogue – Induces or regularises menstruation
- Expectorant – Helps excess mucus from the body
- Hepatoprotective – Protects the liver
- Spasmolytic – Eases muscle spasms
- Stomachic – Good for the stomach; gastric tonic, digestive aid
- Vermifuge – Expels intestinal worms
Chemical Compounds In Fennel Oil (Sweet)
Of the 87 compounds found in Fennel (sweet) oil, the major compounds are Anethole (58.1–92.5%), Limonene (0.2–21.0%), Fenchone (0.2–8.0%), Estragole (1.1–4.8%), a-Pinene (0.1–3.4%), and a-Phellandrene (0.1–2.0%).
The other volatile compounds in fennel oil include α-Thujene, 1,8-Cineol, β-Ocimene, Linalool, Germacrene D, Anisketone, Apiol, n-Hexadecanoic acid, Cubebene, Benzene-1-methyl-4-(1-methyl ethyl)-p-cymene, 1,3,6-Octatriene, 3,7-dimethyl-, (E)-3-carene, 2-Heptene, 3-Methyl-butanal, β-Pinene, Camphene, Hexanal, β-Phellandrene, β-Myrcene, 4-Carene, 2-Heptanohe, Eucalyptol, Camphor, Benzaldehyde, Dicyclopropyl carbinol, β-Terpinol, Folic acid, and 1-(3-Methoxyphenyl)-1-propanone (4).
Health Benefits Of Fennel Oil (Sweet)
Though the fennel oil benefits are abundant, the most notable ones are:
1. Flushes toxins from the liver
The liver is one of the largest organs in our body. It performs many metabolic functions. It converts the food and the nutrients in it into usable forms.
It is responsible for making proteins that are used for blood clotting. The liver handles chemicals and toxic substances throughout the day. It takes up toxins and converts it into harmless substances. The liver releases the elimination of toxic substances.
Studies have shown that the sweet fennel oil is a potent hepatoprotective agent. Limonene and Myrcene present in the essential oil plays a crucial role in the protection of liver from toxins (5).
You can use fennel essential oil to detoxify your liver. Mix 2 drops of sweet fennel oil with water and drink it in the morning. If you feel uncomfortable ingesting the oil, then apply the diluted oil on your wrist or feet before bedtime.
2. Clears respiratory passage
Sweet fennel oil is an excellent expectorant. Nasal passageways and other parts of the respiratory tract contain tiny hairs called cilia. The principal function of ciliary hairs is to filter the dust particles from the air that we breathe.
According to scientific research, breathing the aroma of sweet fennel essential oil stimulates the motility of ciliary hairs and thus, enhancing its capacity to transport dust and other particles.
It also contracts the smooth muscles of the windpipe. It facilitates the expectoration of mucus, bacteria, and other dust particles of the respiratory tract (6, 7). You can apply sweet fennel essential oil on the chest to treat a cough, cold, bronchial affliction, and any other respiratory condition.
3. Improves stomach health
Fennel seeds and the oil extracted from it can improve your stomach health in just a few seconds. In folk medicine, fennel water serves as an essential tonic for promoting stomach health and digestion.
In fact, studies have proved the anti-colitic activity of sweet fennel essential oil. Oral intake of sweet fennel essential oil or massaging it on the abdominal skin regulates the mobility of intestinal smooth muscles. It also relieves flatulence.
You can use the oil to treat gastrointestinal disturbances, indigestion, heaviness in the stomach, and abdominal pain. Sweet fennel oil also balances gut microflora, promoting digestion, and assimilation of the nutrients in the body (8).
Sweet fennel oil is also an excellent laxative. For those who are suffering from constipation, a quick massage on the abdomen can relieve it.
You can also add 3 to 4 drops of sweet fennel oil with 2 tablespoons of castor oil and consume it in an empty stomach early in the morning. Do not eat anything else for the whole day.
4. Alleviates premenstrual syndrome
One of the best fennel oil benefits is its potential to treat menstrual cramps. It helps regulate the menstrual cycle. The antispasmodic and antinociceptive agents present in the fennel seed essential oil alleviates premenstrual syndrome.
According to scientific studies, the compounds present in the fennel oil inhibit spasms and contractions induced by acetylcholine and histamine (9, 10). Also, you can use fennel seed oil for treating fertility issues, endometriosis, and menopausal symptoms.
The Symptoms of PMS – bloating, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, pain when excreting and urinating, difficulty in breathing, depression, irritability, and giddiness are usually worrisome. However, fennel can do a great deed in this.
Make a massage blend with 2 to 3 drops fennel oil and a tablespoon of suitable carrier oil like castor oil or coconut oil. Massage using this oil on the painful areas and let the oil sit for 20 minutes. The skin absorbs the compounds, easing the symptoms in a few minutes.
5. Regulates blood sugar
Diabetes is a health condition where there is plenty of sugar in the blood, as the body fails to process glucose properly. It is one of the lifestyle diseases and has no one-stop cure. Sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety, unhealthy food habits, and genetics are some primary and known causes of diabetes.
Fennel seeds have been used as an antidiabetic medicine from the olden times. Adding fennel to your regular day-to-day diet stimulates digestion, detoxifies the body, and improves assimilation of nutrients. It helps in balancing the blood glucose levels.
The Fennel sweet essential oil has exhibited potential hypoglycemic and antioxidant properties in the studies made by researchers. Also, the fennel essential oil improves the condition of kidney and pancreas in a diabetic person (11).
A good massage, especially in the foot and legs with diluted fennel essential oil thrice a week, can significantly reduce the symptoms of diabetes.
You can also opt for a foot bath. Add 4 to 5 drops of fennel essential oil in a tub of warm water. Soak your feet for around 10 to 15 minutes. Massage your feet to alleviate any pain or irritation.
6. Relieves gout symptoms
Gout is a form of arthritis, which is characterized by redness, tenderness in the joints, and severe pain. It occurs due to overproduction of uric acid, accumulating around the joints and tendons as crystals.
Often, gout is associated with severe diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, physical trauma, and heart problems.
It frequently causes swelling and burning sensation. High level of uric acid may also lead to kidney dysfunctions like kidney stones. The treatment to treat gout is by reducing the production of uric acid from the body and dissolving accumulated monosodium urate crystals.
Studies have shown that fennel oil is an excellent diuretic. It helps to remove the toxins, even including uric acid from the body. Also, the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antinociceptive properties significantly reduce swelling and pain.
The results are quick and prominent when essential oils are accompanied by healthy lifestyle management. Drinking plenty of water, fresh juice, adequate sunlight, and proper sleep can help in a significant way (12, 13).
As mentioned earlier, a good massage with diluted fennel essential oil or foot bath alleviates pain and burning sensation.
7. Gives a glowing skin
Fennel seed can do wonders to your skin tone. It has been used since ancient times to treat various skin disorders like acne and pimples. This is mainly due to its rich antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that perform this job perfectly.
Dabbing fennel seeds infused water to your skin using a cotton ball can improve your skin tone significantly. Face steaming with fennel seed enhances texture and face mask can clear impurities in your skin.
Add 4 to 5 drops of fennel seed essential oil to boiling water. Lean over it and cover your body with a sturdy cloth or a towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat this process twice a week to clear impurities on your skin.
8. Prevents baldness
Hair loss or alopecia is a growing health issue in today’s busy world. The underlying causes of hair loss include stress, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune disorders, over-exercising, weight loss diet, malnutrition, and much more.
Gradual hair loss may lead to hair thinning and baldness. In women PCOS, irregular menstruation, and menopause may also cause hair loss.
The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of fennel seed essential oil act as a tonic for hair growth. It reduces dandruff, hair breakage, and hair loss. It stimulates the hair follicles and promotes new hair growth (16).
To boost your hair health, here is a quick tip. Blend 4 to 5 drops of fennel essential oil with 2 tablespoons of warm coconut oil or sesame oil. Massage your scalp with it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Let the oil sit on your head for an hour and then, wash it off with a mild shampoo. Do this thrice a week to nourish your hair.
9. Remedy for sore eyes
Overexposure to electronic screens, airborne irritants, excessive rubbing, and pollution are the main causes of dry eyes/mild & severe sore eyes. However, the condition can be treated with fennel oil.
Mix 2 to 3 drops of fennel seed oil with a tablespoon of castor oil. Apply the oil around your eyes during bedtime. Regular application of this oil reduces dark circle around your eyes, relaxes your eyes, and helps you to have a sound sleep.
You can take a break and rest your eyes in between your works. Add 2 to 3 drops of fennel seed oil in a cup of water. Prepare a cotton pad, dip it in the water, and place it on your closed eyes. It rests your eyes and gives a refreshing feel.
10. Boosts your confidence
Smile, spirit, and confidence can make you look more attractive and personifies who you are. But did you know that fennel oil can help you bring these three factors? Just inhaling its peppery aroma relieves stress, fear, and nervousness.
Diffuse the oil using a vaporizer, and when inhaling the smell, you might feel an emotional sensation.
But know that not all people are the same. While some may respond well to its fragrance, others might not. If you feel the emotion is negative, avoid using the oil. If you feel happy, positive and confident, then go on. Enjoy!
What Blends With Fennel Oil?
Fennel (Sweet) oil blends the best with:
- Bergamot oil
- Black pepper oil
- Cananga oil
- Caraway seed oil
- Cardamom oil
- Chamomile German oil
- Chamomile Roman oil
- Geranium oil
- Ginger oil
- Grapefruit oil
- Ho wood oil
- Juniper berry oil
- Lavender oil
- Lemon oil
- Mandarin oil
- Orange (sweet) oil
How To Use Fennel Oil?
The quality of the sweet fennel oil may be adulterated with high limonene or synthetic anethole. Sometimes bitter fennel essential oil may be passed off in the name of sweet fennel oil. You should always make sure about the source and quality while buying sweet fennel essential oil. Also, you should use them carefully.
- Topical Application: Fennel essential oil in concentrated form may cause skin reactions. Use the oil with a suitable carrier oil before applying it on the skin. Perform a patch test before applying the oil.
- Aromatherapy: Always make sure you diffuse the fennel oil using a vaporizer or a diffuser.
- Ingestion: Sweet fennel essential oil can be taken internally. However, use the oil after proper guidelines and recommendation from a physician.
Side Effects Of Fennel Oil
- The oil may cause skin irritation or some adverse skin reactions in some individuals.
- The oil stimulates menstrual flow. Pregnant women should avoid using fennel essential oil.
- Do not use the oil if you have epilepsy or cancer without proper guidance.