I’m a big fan of fennel essential oil. You’re unlikely to need much of it because it’s so intense. It has a powerful fragrance and exerts its actions in the body quickly.
I love the plant and oil, but people are reluctant to use them. It has many safety indications that might make you think it’s not worth it, but it’s an easy oil that can make you feel smug about your aromatherapy. So, we’ll answer the question about fennel essential oil.
Fennel essential oil has four main actions. First, it is phytoestrogenic, which alters hormonal levels in the body. It is a diuretic, so it is suitable for retention, whether menstrual-related or swelling at the site of an injury.
Fennel essential oil is beneficial as a digestive tonic, especially when it comes to trapped wind and retained gas. Finally, it is incredible for building mental stamina. Failure to finish is reduced and is terrific when someone suffers from exhaustion.
Let’s start at the end and work backward because this always strikes me as one of the strangest pieces of information I was ever given in meditation.
So, What Is Fennel Essential Oil Good for?
Did you know that marathon races are named after the ancient Greek town of Marathon?
The town was the site of the infamous Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE. In the first Persian invasion of Greece, the heavily outnumbered Athenian army defeated their foes. The story goes that Pheidippides, a Greek herald at the battle, was dispatched from Marathon to Athens to declare the nation's victory. Today, this incredible long run is now conceived. The town’s name means City Full of Fennel, and it was believed that the herb grew abundantly there.
Now that would be a quaint little story, except I didn’t know that when I was told, in meditation, that fennel was for stamina. That the herb is designed to help you beat the wall you hit at 25 miles.
I find it interesting that Nat has written the same about stamina, probably learned from her friend Kim Morrison, an aromatherapist and Australian champion, and long-distance runner.
I have no idea how it can be accurate, but it is. The best essential oil for overcoming exhaustion and keeping you going is the one that gave its name to marathons.
I bet you don’t forget that fact!
I often use it to spin that bit when uploading my books to Amazon. It is tedious and frustrating and then there are book uploads. It’s a new level! A million problems!
Your brain thought you were finished, but no...cue The Carpenters...”It’s only just begun….”! It’s wearing, and fennel essential helps. It’s not just about resilience but also how it clears the mind.
It’s not loud and shouty like peppermint or rosemary (neither of which I can bear, incidentally); it’s comforting and feels like being engrossed in a good book. You plod on changing margins, upload, download, upload, and it’s not that painful.
A Gift for the Pollinators
Next, with my Melissa Bee Priestess head on, I must tell you that growing fennel in the garden will make a specific pollinator very happy. If you have beehives, you might want to plant your fennel at the other end of the garden since they are wasp pollinated. It’s great to introduce more pollinators into the park, and my wasps adore the statuesque flowers of the fennel, which are in bloom simultaneously as the honey flow.
It seems to distract them from the temptation of lusciousness in the hive. Interestingly though, as the season continues, several species of flies are taking over their stint of pollination. Maybe they passed the relay baton?
As the flowers fade, fragrant seeds form, and these are what are distilled to make our gorgeous essential oil. Their aniseed -licorice flavor makes my mouth water, even as I think.
Just as eating the bulb with a delicious piece of trout or drinking a cup of fennel seed tea, add a drop of fennel essential oil into your massage blends, creams, and lotions.
I often talk about Ayurvedic medicine and the doshas because I enjoy how the different energy transits affect the body. For example, fennel is tridoshic, which means it acts on all three doshas, warming joints and cooling the skin, but I love how it performs on Kapha dosha. Kapha is very prone to things to sit solidly in the body.
Fluid accumulates, digestion slows, we see constipation, catarrh, phlegm…it’s like the body got exhausted and just stopped…you can see where I am going here…It’s the same Marathon analogy…
Fennel is generally great for heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, and weight gain.
It loosens constipation and releases trapped wind. A word to the wise…do not be upwind!!! Remember what I said…it acts fast; get in, gets out….Pfffft!
Me? I think it’s probably best used on a day when you can stay home alone!
Gunk on The Chest
To reiterate, this is an extension of that same soggy, thick stuck dampness in the body. Fennel essential oil probably throws a javelin that this one! It is penetrating, and it loosens and releases quickly.
Hormones and Fluids
We’re going to do a set of features about women’s mental health through September so that I won’t labor it here (pun unintended), but understanding how estrogenic changes affect us is helpful to understanding fennel here.
Hormonal changes trigger menstruation. The normal cycle should be around 29 days. If it is, around day 11, the body starts ovulation. You might notice a slight slimy discharge in your knickers as estrogen, at its peak, breaks down the cervical mucus preventing anything from entering. When this happens, a fertile landscape for conception is created. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that instruct an egg to be dispatched down the fallopian tube, which may or may not meet a sperm to be fertilized.
The egg breaks down, and the “shell,” the corpus luteum, begins to secrete progesterone which will thicken the womb to help it to support a pregnancy. If that does not happen, about a week before your period starts, progesterone drops, and the lining starts to fall away, which is menstruation.
See how estrogen and progesterone play off each other? We see mood changes as well as thickening and disposing of uterine tissues. This interplay also affects salt and water in the body, leading t water retention.
Recommended Reading: How To Use Clary Sage Oil For Hormone Balance?
Balancing estrogen and progesterone fluctuations stabilizes not only water retention (Stachenfeld, 2014) and mood (Schechter, 1999) but also painful menstruation (Ostad, 2001). According to Stachenfeld, these hormonal fluctuations may also have cardiovascular consequences. (Stachenfeld, 2014)
And it’s funny because what do we say when we are hormonal? “Oh, I’ve had enough of this now…” So it’s the same strange theme coming up time and time again.
Going back to fluid retention, it’s my go-to for any issues with edema, whether organic or from injury. I like to blend it with juniper and cypress to cover all basis because they have that same diuretic quality. But, again, this would not be a good plan if you have kidney issues.
Puffy eyes blend it with angelica root essential oil. It’s great to bring healthy blood to dull complexions.
Recommended Reading: Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps
Fennel and The Blood
Fennel essential oil has an anticoagulant effect, so it thins the blood. Be careful if you have hemophilia, another platelet disorder, or are on any blood thinning medications. We can see how that would mess up your prescription.
Is Fennel Essential Oil Safe To Use?
In France, fennel essential oil’s high anethole content means it requires a prescription to obtain it to protect pregnant and nursing mothers. Fennel essential oil thins the blood, so it should be used with care if you have any particular clotting disorders or peptic ulcers. If you should be diagnosed with any kind of cancer that relies on estrogens to grow, it makes sense to discontinue use. Fennel essential oil is contraindicated in people taking diabetic medications.
Do not use this oil during pregnancy, endometriosis, or if suffering from estrogen-dependent cancer.
Use only in dilutions of less than 0.25% for children under five.
Cautions: Do not use the oil while using any kind of diabetes medication or anticoagulant medications if you suffer from a peptic ulcer, hemophilia, or any other bleeding disorders. Likewise, avoid it for two days before any scheduled surgery.
Is Fennel Essential Oil Safe in Pregnancy?
We do not want to be messing with hormonal levels during pregnancy. Therefore, fennel is best avoided at this time.
Due to fennel essential oil's fast and furious action, I agree with Tisserand and Young 2013; you only need to use a minimal amount; 2.5% would be plenty enough! It’s such a strong fragrance; if you use it more, it will overwhelm the scent of the rest of the blend.
If you can’t work out how to do 2.5%, do 2 drops in a teaspoon carrier. That puts you safely under. Go small for little ones (you might want to use it with some dill for colic, for example) 0.25% would be about right. So, I’d go 1 drop in a tablespoon of carrier.
So, there you have it, an answer to what is fennel essential oil suitable for. I hope it was helpful. If you are looking for some recipes to experiment with, there are some great ones on our product and in Natalie’s article about blending Fennel Essential oil.