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Fennel Seed Also known as: Bitter fennel, sweet fennel, and wild fennel Scientific name

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Fennel Seed
Also known as: Bitter fennel, sweet fennel, and wild fennel
Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare, F. piperitum, F. officinale, F. capillaceum; Anethum foeniculum, A. piperitum
Used for:

Orally: increasing lactation, promoting menstruation, facilitating birth, increasing libido, upper respiratory tract infections, coughs, bronchitis, cholera, backache, bedwetting, dyspepsia, flatulence, bloating, loss of appetite, visual problems, and for colic in infants
Topically: poultice for snake bites

  • Likely safe when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods.

  • Possibly unsafe when used orally by breast-feeding mothers.


  • Possibly effective for colic

  • Insufficient reliable evidence to rate: colitis, constipation, dysmenorrhea, hirsutism, and sunburn


Beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, trans-anethole, fenchone, estragole, anethole (anise-type aroma/flavor), alpha-pinene, limonene, 1-octen-3-ol, 1,8-cineole, alpha-phellandrene, beta-myrcene, beta-pinene, bitter fenchone, borneol, caffeic acid, camphene, camphor, carvacrol, etheric oil, farnesene, ferulic acid, gamma-terpinene, hexyl octanoate, isoquercitrin, kaempferol 3-arabinoside linalyl acetate, p-allyiphenyl aromatic oxide, p-cymene, phenyl carbonic acids, polyacetylenes, quercetin 3-glucuronide, rutin, quercetin 3-arabinoside, safrole, 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid, chlorogenic acid, 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid, eriocitrin, rutin, miquelianin, 1,3-O-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 1,5-O-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 1,4-O-dicaffeoylquinic acid, and rosmarinic acid
Food/medication/herb/supplement interaction

  • Anticoagulant/antiplatelet herbs, supplements, and medications

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

  • Contraceptives and estrogens

  • Cytochrome P450 3A4 substrates (CYP3A4)

  • Tamoxifen (Novadex)

References and recommended readings
Alexandrovich I, Rakovitskaya O, Kolmo E, Sidorova T, Shushunov S. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;9(4):58-61. Accessed July 1, 2015.
Fennel. WebMD website. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Fennel seed. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database website. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Contributed by Crystal Petrello, MS, RDN, LD

Review Date: 5/15/15

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