Foeniculum Vulgare. Fennel Seed.
Description: Natural Order, Umbelliferae. "Calyx a tumid, obsolete rim; petals roundish, entire, involute, with a squarish blunt lobe. Fruit nearly taper. Half-fruits with five prominent bluntly-keeled ridges. Root biennial or perennial, tapering. Stem annual, erect, striated, smooth, green, three to four feet high, copiously branching. Leaves alternate at the jointed stem, on membranous and striated sheaths, many times pinnate; leaflets long, linear, pointed, smooth, dark-green. Flowers in large, flat, terminal umbels, thirteen to twenty rays, without involucres. Corolla of five golden-yellow petals. Fruit ovate, less than two lines long by one line broad, of a dark color." (Lindley.)
This plant grows wild in Europe upon sandy and chalky soils; and is now much cultivated in the eastern portions of the United States. Another variety–foeniculum officinale, or sweet fennel–has seeds twice as large as the above species, and their color is lighter and the flavor more sweet. The foeniculum dulce grows but about a foot high, and furnishes a quite dark seed. The seeds, though thus differing in size and color, are nearly the same in qualities. They contain a fixed and an essential oil. Alcohol and diluted alcohol extract their virtues freely, and warm water acts upon them quite well.
Properties and Uses: The fruit (seeds) are quite fragrant, and are among the most relaxing and least pungent of all the aromatics. They are eminently carminative, and quite diffusive; and are usually better received by the stomach than are cummin or dill seeds, being also more relaxing than these, but more stimulating than anise seed. Their principal use is in combination with senna, rhubarb, juglans, rhamnus, and other cathartics. They are a valuable ingredient of the Carminative Drops described under angelica. The oil may be made into essence.
From a very early period of medical history, fennel seed has been credited with the power of increasing the secretion of milk, (galactagogue.) Its use for this purpose is most extensive in Germany; but leading physicians of many countries ascribe to it excellent power in this direction. The infusion of the seed may be used without limitation. Huefeland employed it in the following combination: Fennel seeds, one drachm; sweet orange-peel, half a drachm; carbonate of magnesia, three drachms; sugar, two drachms. Mix the powders, and give a teaspoonful three times a day. This preparation is greatly extolled through Germany. Others have given formulas combining the fennel with anise seed, parsley root, licorice root, etc., and using an infusion freely.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com