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Overview InformationFennel 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-like spice. Fennel's dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine.
Fennel is used by mouth for excessive crying in infants (colic), indigestion (dyspepsia), menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), and symptoms of menopause, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
In foods and beverages, fennel oil and fennel seed are used as flavoring agents.
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 does it work?Fennel might relax the colon. Fennel also appears to contain an ingredient that may act like estrogen in the body.
Uses & Effectiveness
Insufficient Evidence for
- Excessive crying in infants (colic). Early research shows that giving fennel to infants with colic might reduce crying by a small amount.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Taking fennel extract four times daily starting at the beginning of a period can reduce pain in girls and young women with menstrual camps. But not all research agrees.
- Male pattern hair growth in women (hirsutism). Using fennel cream for 12 weeks may reduce hirsutism.
- Symptoms of menopause. Early research shows that taking fennel essential oil improves symptoms of menopause.
- Sunburn. Applying fennel to the skin before going out in the sun may reduce sunburn.
- Thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy). Applying a fennel cream once daily for 8 weeks reduces symptoms of vaginal thinning such as itching, dryness, and pain with intercourse.
- Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
- Back pain.
- Swelling (inflammation) of the main airways in the lung (bronchitis).
- An infection of the intestines that causes diarrhea (cholera).
- Diseases such as Alzheimer disease, that interfere with thinking (dementia).
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Gas (flatulence).
- Swelling (inflammation) of the stomach (gastritis).
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Increasing sexual desire in healthy people.
- Upper airway infection.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyWhen taken by mouth: Fennel is LIKELY SAFE in the amounts commonly found in food. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when used at appropriate doses for a short period of time. There isn't enough reliable information to know whether fennel is safe when used as medicine for longer periods of time. Although rare, side effects might include stomach upset. Seizures have occurred when taking fennel essential oil by mouth.
When applied to the skin: Fennel is POSSIBLY SAFE. Fennel can make skin extra sensitive to the sun and make it easier to get a sunburn. Wear sunblock if you are light-skinned.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy: There isn't enough reliable information to know if fennel is safe to use when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Breast-feeding: Fennel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It has been reported that two breast-feeding infants had damage to their nervous systems after their mothers drank herbal tea containing fennel.
Children: Fennel is POSSIBLY SAFE when used at appropriate doses in young infants for colic 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 estrogen, do not use fennel.
Be cautious with this combination
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with FENNEL
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) interacts with FENNEL
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).
Estrogens interacts with FENNEL
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.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with FENNEL
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 appropriate dose of fennel depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for fennel. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
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