Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare

(Ref: Bhavaprakasa Nighantu)

Introduction

Fennel is short-lived perennial plant that blooms best in the second year. It is best flowering plant that basically belongs to the carrot family. Fennel is a highly aromatic plant used in different cuisines and its medicinal properties make it capable for herbal medicines. It has anise-like flavour but it is more sweet, aromatic and less pungent.

In Ayurveda fennel is called saunf or madhurika. It is believed to be bitter, pungent and sweet in taste. Ideally, this herb is hot in potency and helps to maintain a balance between three body energies - Vata, pitta and kapha. This herb is very beneficial for promoting mastishak (brain) and Netra (eye) health and nourishment of both the body organs. Fennel is considered as best carminative herb and good for treating flatus, abdominal distention, and other stomach and digestive system related issues. It is very effective expectorant in nature. In Ayurveda seeds, seed oil and roots are used to prepare various herbal medications.

Seeds are used as spice and mouth freshener while leaves are used to flavour salads, soups, and sauces. Seeds are also used in baking to flavour dishes.

Plant Description

Fennel is a perennial herb that grows up to 2.5cm in height with the long, green, erect and hollow stem. Leaves are finely dissected into a thread- like structures that are about 40cms long and 0.5mm wide. Flowers are produced in umbels and that umbels are about 5-15cm in width. Each umbel contains 30-50 yellow coloured tiny flowers with short peduncles. Fennel seeds are green in colour and after maturity, these aromatic seeds turn into light brown in colour. Seeds are oval in shape with 5 small ridges. Flowering season of the plant is May to June and fruiting season of plant in July to September.

Habitat

Fennel is mainly native to the Mediterranean region and also cultivated in Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia. It is basically grown in fields and gardens. Humid and temperate regions are good for the cultivation of this plant.

Names

  • Latin Name - Foeniculum vulgare
  • English Name - Fennel Seeds, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel
  • Hindi Name - Saunf
  • Sanskrit Name - Madhura, Mishi, Madhurika
  • Punjabi Name - Sounf
  • Bengali Name - Mauri
  • Tamil Name - Sombu
  • Gujarati Name - Variyali
  • Marathi Name - Badi Shep
  • Telugu Name - Sopu
  • Kannada Name - Badi Sopu
  • Malayalam Name - Perum Jeerkam
  • Arabian Name - Rajiyanaj
  • Farsi Name - Rajiyan
  • Spanish Name - Hinojo
  • Assamese Name - Guvamuri
  • Kashmiri Name - Saunf
  • Unani Name - Badiyaan
  • Greek Name - Marathron, Marathros

According to Bhavprakash Nighantu

Ancient verse about Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

According to above - mentioned verse of bhavprakash nighantu shatpushpa, shtaha, madhura, karvi, misi, atilambi, sitchatra and sanhitchatriak are the various synonyms of herb soya while chatra, shalay, shalin, mishreya, madhura and misi are the various synonyms of herb saunf. The herbs soya is light to digest, piercing, stimulant, aggravates pitta dosha in the body, hot in potency and astringent in taste. It is used to pacify Kapha dosha and also used to treat fever, abdominal pain, ulcers, and other eyes related problems. All the guna and karma of herb saunf is similar to soya but the only difference is that herb saunf is very beneficial for treating umbilicus related pain and this herb is used to stimulate digestive fire and good for cardiac problems. This herb is used to treat constipation, worm infestation, and cough, vomiting, used to pacify Vata dosha and excess use of this herb decreases the sperm quality and quantity.

Reference:-

The bhavprakash nighantu with elaborated Hindi commentary of Padamshri Prof Krishna chandra chunekar and edited by Dr. Ganga Sahay pandey: edition 2010; page number - 35 and verse number- 10, 11 and 12.

Health Benefits of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

  • Sugandhit - Due to the presence of beautiful aroma this herb is used to flavour other herbal medicines.
  • Deepan - Saunf is very beneficial herb for promoting the health of pakvashay (large intestine) and amashay (stomach). It helps to stimulate low digestive fire.
  • Pachan - Saunf seeds are used to secrete enzymes that are very essential for digestion. It is also beneficial for treating digestive system related problems. It helps to make the balance of pachka agni in amashya that is a very effective for the process of digestion.
  • Vatanuloman - It helps to pacify aggravated Vata dosha in the body and helps to make the proper balance of vata dosha in the body. It helps to maintain the proper level of apan vayu in the body and helps to relieve flatus and abdominal distention.
  • Daahprashman - This beneficial herb is a very effective for treating burning sensation in body and also good for relieving excessive thirst.
  • Mutraviranjaniye - Saunf is an herb that helps to increase both frequency and the volume of urine. It is also good for other urinary tract related ailment.

Uses of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

  • Powder seeds are very beneficial for treating painful micturition and also good for removing impurities from urine.
  • Seeds are also good for treating dry cough and mouth related disorders.
  • Leaves are aromatic in nature, used to increase volume of urine and stimulate sweating in body.
  • Roots of this medicinal herb are carminative in nature.
  • Paste prepared by seeds are used to relieve excessive vertigo and severe headache caused by excessive exposure of sunlight in summers.
  • Enema of the pure extract is used to relieve constipation and abdominal distention.

Medicinal Benefits of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

  • Fennel is a very essential herb that is anti-bacterial in nature and helps to fight against various micro-organisms and pathogens.
  • Anti-oxidant nature of this helps to protect body cells against free radicals and toxins.
  • Oil of this herb stimulates pancreatic cells and insulin secretion and also helps to maintain a regular level of sugar in the blood stream.
  • It helps to increase production of milk in lactating mothers.
  • It helps to regulate oestrogenic level in the body and very beneficial for treating menstruation related disorders.
  • Herb is hepatoprotective in nature and very beneficial for the hepatic system.
  • Amaatisaar (diarrhoea), ajiran (apachan), adhmaan (abdominal distention), jwara (fever), khansi (cough), shwaas (asthma), pleeha virdhi (spleen enlargement), anartav (amenorrhoea) and dirshitimandya (low eye vision) are the various diseases mentioned in Bhavprakash nighantu for which saunf seeds are used.
  • Chewing raw seeds of fennels helps to vanquish bad breath.

Dosage

For therapeutic uses - ½-1gm.

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