Foeniculum vulgare (Apiaceae / Umbelliferae) commonly known as fennel is a well-known and important medicinal and aromatic plant widely used as digestive, diuretic, Asthma, Brest feeding women, Diabetes help lower cholesterol level, cure edema, Anxiety, Depression, gastrointestinal disorders. Its seeds are used as Blood pressure, reduce asthma symptoms, reduce water Retention, Helps purify Blood, Improves eyesight. In vitro and in vivo models, many pharmacological experiments have demonstrated the ability to perform strongly Foeniculum vulgare to exhibit antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and anti depression activities, supporting the argument behind its many therapeutic uses. Phenolic compounds separated by Foeniculum vulgare are considered responsible for antioxidant activity, while unstable aroma compounds make it an excellent flavour agent. The current review is an up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of the safety of chemistry, pharmacology, convention use and Foeniculum vulgare.
Keywords: Foeniculum vulgare; Pharmacological action; Traditional Uses Medicinal Parts
Foeniculum vulgare is a biennial medicinal and aromatic plant belonging to the family Apiaceae (Umbelliferaceae). It is a hardy, perennial–umbelliferous herb with yellow flowers and feathery green leaves. Its growth to a height of up to 2.5 m with hollow stems. Leaves grow 40 cm; they are finely dissected with the last section filiform (like thread) of approximately 0.5 mm wide. Flower terminals are produced in compound umbels. The fruit is a dry seed of 4–10 mm long. It is generally considered indigenous to the shores of Mediterranean Sea, but on the dry search especially on the sea, it has become quite natural in many parts of the world. Some authors distinguish two sub-species of fennel, piperitum and vulgare: sub-species piperitum has bitter seeds, while sub-species vulgare has sweet seeds which are used as flavouring agents in baked goods, ice creams, alcoholic beverages, etc. .
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) belongs to Family Apiaceae, which is an annual, biennial or perennial aromatic herb, depending on the variety. It is a harsh, perennial, porous herb yellow flowers and feather leaves. This straight, light blue colour is green and increases with a hollow stem, up to a height of 2.5 meters. The leaves grow up to 40 cm, they are fine dissections, with the ultimate section of the filiform, about 0.5 mm wide. Its leaves are like dill but are thin. Flowers terminal compound umbels are produced in 5–15 cm wide; each egg segment contains 20–50 small yellow flowers on small pedicels. The fruit is 4–10 mm long, half wide or less and surrounded with dry seeds. The fruits are aromatic, stimulant and carminative .
Plant is a resident of southern Europe and Asia. Many
varieties and races differing in size, odour and taste of the fruits
exist among the wild and cultivated fennels. Variety vulgare is
cultivated chiefly in Russia, Rumania, Hungary, Germany, France,
Italy, India, Japan, Argentina, and USA. Fennel is cultivated
mostly as garden herb or home yard crop throughout India at all
altitudes up to 6,000 ft. Gujarat and Rajasthan are chief fennel
growing states in India. It is grown on small scale in other states
like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar and
Jammu and Kashmir .
Naim et al. , reported the antiviral activity of the essential
oil of fruit sample of Foeniculum vulgare against the DNA virus
Herpes simplex type-1. Most of the oils and compounds displayed
strong antiviral effects against Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1),
ranging between 0.8 and 0.025μg/ml.
Naim et al. , showed in an in vitro study, fungal and
aflatoxin contamination in stored tobacco leaves and the
potential of Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) seed essential oil as a
plant-based preservative in protection tobacco during storage was examined and it showed that the fennel essential oil can
thus be formulated as plant-based preservatives for food items.
Singh et al., (2010), reported that the fennel has exhibit
antifungal effect. Fennel essential oils and its seed extracts have
been reported to show antimicrobial and anticandidal activity.
Various bark extracts from F. vulgare have also been reported to
have antifungal activity against Candida albicans. The essential
oil of F. vulgare has also been reported to reduce the mycelia
growth and germination of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and as such
could be used as bio fungicide alternative to synthetic fungicides
against phytopathogenic fungi. The essential oil of F. vulgare
has been reported to show complete zone of inhibition against
Aspergillum Niger, Aspergillumflavus, Fusarium graminearum
and Fusarium moniliforme at 6 μl doses.
Kumar et al. , investigated that fennel extract has antifungal
activity against various fungal species such as Candida albicans,
species of Aspergillus, and dermatophytes (21). Apart from this,
a study on herb antifungal effect showed significant antifungal
activity against fungal in food waste such as Aspergillums Niger
and Fusium oxysporum. For these molds, respectively, MIC was
750 and 250 micrograms per ml. Another study showed that
Dillapional the derivative of fennel stalk phenyl propanoid has
antimicrobial properties against Aspergillus.
Kiani Sadegh, et al. , investigated that the essential oil of
Foeniculum vulgare has antischistosomal activity and cytotoxic
effects against V79 cell. The plant of displayed moderate in
vitro schistosomicidal activity against adult S. mansoni worms,
exerted remarkable inhibitory effects on the egg development,
and was of low toxicity.
Kiani Sadegh, et al. , evaluated that the effect of fennel
and sage extracts and the influence of the egg yolk source (fresh
or pasteurized) on the success of freezing boar epididymal
spermatozoa. The results show that the interaction between
fennel and sage antioxidants with fresh egg yolk has improved
the quality of the protected plg epididymal spermatozoa due
to the loss of post operation damage result of oxidative stress.
Marino et al.  investigated that the antioxidant activity of
wild, edible and medicinal fennels from different Mediterranean
countries has been determined. Wild fennel has been found
to display a radical scavenging activity compared to both a
medicinal and edible fennel. The methanolic extract of F. vulgare
fruit has also been reported to exhibit antioxidant activity by
decreasing the malondialdehyde level in F. vulgare fruit methanol
extract group compared to the control group. The essential
oil and acetone extracts of F. vulgare have been reported to
exhibit strong antioxidant activity in comparison with Butylated
hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
Musharaf Khan et al.  reported that the fennel has
antioxidant property. Due to the high content of polyphenols and flavonoids, this plant can stop free radicals. Phenolic
compounds in this herb such as caffeoylquinic acid, rosmarinic
acid, eriodictyol-7-orutinoside, quercetin- 3-O-galactoside, and
kaempferol-3-O-glucoside showed antioxidant activity. Fennel
volatile oil also has strong antioxidant activity.
Kumar et al.  reported the Anxiolytic activity of the crude
extract of fennel. Fennel due to phytoestrogens extensively
has therapeutic use in the treatment of estrogens deficiency
abnormalities. There are estrogens hormones which are
involved in the phenomenon of anxiety that started functioning
through GABA-A receptors. The results of a study show that
with the increase in the time spent in open hands, the plant
has established important acollatic effects. Picrotoxin (GABA
receptor antagonist) and Tamoxifen prevented Anxiolytic
effect. Therefore, fennel probably is an herbal remedy that
has Anxiolytic effects mediated by GABA-nergic system and
estrogens receptors. Mesfin et al, Anxiolytic activity of fennel
confirmed on adult mice. This plant can have a promising effect
in the treatment of anxiety and stress.
Koppula et al, (2015) investigated the properties of fennel
extract in stress reduction and memory enhancement in rats.
This study showed that this herb with several functions such
as anti-stress proceeding, increase in memory and antioxidant
effects may reduce stress and stress-related disorders.
Mahmoud et al.  reported the pharmacological effects
of fennel plant, anti-inflammatory activity can be noted. It also
significantly increased plasma levels of High-Density Lipoprotein
(HDL) cholesterol. In contrast, it significantly reduced the level
of malondialdehyde (MDA) as a measure of lipid per oxidation.
These results indicate that removing methanol of fennel fruit is
effective in reducing inflammation. Choi and Hwang et al, (2004)
investigated that oral administration of methanolic extract of
F. vulgare fruit shows the inhibitory effects against acute and
sub-acute inflammatory diseases and type IV allergic reactions.
Research has shown that the methanol extract of fennel has
anti- inflammatory effects of fennel. The results show that by
removing the methanol of the fennel seeds, it is swollen through
cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase routes.
Sofi et al. , reported that the aqueous and organic extract of
F. Vulgare shows the antibacterial activity against some bacterial
strains. The essential oil of Foeniculum vulgare has also been
reported to possess antibacterial activity against some human
pathogenic bacteria. Ethanol and water extracts of Foeniculum
Vulgare have shown Antibacterial activity. Mahady et al. (2005),
reported the chemical constituents from Foeniculum vulgare
have been identified as active antimicrobial principles such as
a phenyl propanoid derivative – Dillapional was found to be the
active antimicrobial principle of the Foeniculum vulgare stem.
Another molecule - scoplatin which is a quaterrain derivative,
has been separated from vulgare and has been reported to have
slight antimicrobial effects.
Samani et al. , investigated that the fennel is used to
treat many bacterial, fungal, viral, and mycobacterial infectious
diseases. Antibacterial activity occurs in the fennel compounds
such as linoleic acid, unnecessary, 1, 3-bengenadieol, oleic acid,
and 2, 4-unwanted. Fennel has 5-hydroxy-furanocoumarin which
has important role in antibacterial activity. Aqueous extract of
fennel shows bactericidal activity.
Sofi et al. , found that the essential oil of F. vulgare and
its main component, anethole has been shown to have a safe
antithrombotic activity that originates due to their broadspectrum
anti-platelet activity, clot destabilizing effect and
vasorelaxant action. The main component of fennel oil tested
in Anithol, Guinea Pig Plasma was powerful as fennel oil in
preventing aggregation of arachidonic acid, collagen-ADP and
U46619. Anethole also prevent thrombin-driven clutter reaction
at concentrations like phenyl oil. The fennel oil and anethole
were tested in rat aorta with or without endothelium and
displayed comparable NO-independent vasorelaxant activity at
antiplatelet concentrations which have been proved to be free
from cytotoxic effects in vitro. Furthermore, both F. vulgare
essential oil and anethole (100 mg/kg oral administration)
provided significant protection towards ethanol induced gastric
lesions in rats.
Ozbek et al. , showed that the essential oil of fennel
possesses hepatoprotective activity. In a study, the hepatotoxicity
produced by acute CCl4 administration was found to be inhibited
by fennel essential oil with evidence of decreased levels of serum
aspirate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase
(ALT), alkaline phosphatise (ALP) and bilirubin.
Qiang et al, (2015) studied that the effect of fennel extract
in carbon tetrachloride -induced liver injury rats. Data from
this study showed that this extract reduced the levels of AST
(aspartate aminotransferase), ALT (alanine amino transferees),
ALP (alkaline phosphatise) and serum bilirubin (69). Fennel
effect was also investigated on lipid peroxidement in rats with
hepatic fibrosis. After fennel consumption ALT, AST level and
MDA material decreased significantly and TP, ALB and SOD, CAT,
GSH-PX activities increased. According to the results, it can be
concluded that maybe fennel may prevent Hepatic fibrosis on
the regulation of lipid peroxide.
Wang et al, (2008), investigated the effect of fennel on
cytokines in rats with hepatic fibrosis. The results show that
the decline of lipid and swelling had reduced in the fennel
cure group. Based on the data obtained from this study, it can
be assumed that fennel can reduce liver swelling and save
hepatocytes significantly against liver damage. In other studies, the effect of fennel on the hepatic fibrosis and the quantity of
potassium dose were examined.
Soud et al. , investigated that the essential oil of Foeniculum
vulgare show hypoglycaemic activity in Streptozotocin induced
diabetic rats. Foeniculum vulgar essential oils for diabetic mice
from hyperglycemias (162.5 + 3.1 9 mg / dl) (81.97 + 1.97 mg
/ dl) (Activity of serum glutathione peroxide (59.72 + 2.78 U /
g HB) (99.60 + 6.38) U / G HB). This makes the possibility of its
inclusion in ant diabetic drug industry.
Jamshidi et al , studied that the effect of aqueous extracts
Apiaceae family plant such as fennel in lowering blood sugar
and anti-diabetic activities. The findings showed that exhaust
diabetics can be useful for blood glucose control and in addition,
their daily use can be effective in reducing chronic complications
associated with diabetes. To evaluate the effects of fennel on
the reductions in blood glucose, a study was conducted on
Streptocytosine-Diabetic Rats. The results showed that fennel
extract improves hyperglycaemia in diabetic rats which part of
this related to herb effect on oxidation/restored system.
Manzoor A, Riather et al. , reported the effect of ethanolic
extract of F. vulgare has anti-hirustism activity. In a double-blind
study patient were treated with creams containing 1%, 2% of
fennel extract and placebo. 2% fennel creams are better than 1%
Arya et al, (2005), studied that the anethole present in
fennel has efficient effect in increase milk secretion, promote
menstruation, facilitate birth, alleviate the symptoms of the male
climacteric and increase libido. Fennel essential oil, the main
constituent of Athol is considered active oestrogenic agent. Some
other studies have suggested that the actual pharmacological
Shamkant et al, (2006), reported that the fennel possesses
estrogenic effect and it has been used for thousands of years as
an estrogenic agent. Due to this property, fennel enhances milk
secretion, reduces menstrual pain, facilitates birth and enhances
sexual desire. Anethole is the main part of fennel plant that
operates estrogenic properties. Research has shown that active
pharmaceutical agents such as dianethole and photoanethole are
polymers of anethole. Fennel substance showed lass side effects
in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. The administration
of various doses of fennel extract has significantly reduced the
contraction intensity induced by oxytocin and prostaglandin.
Moderate doses increased mammary gland weight and
higher doses increased the weight of oviduct, endometrium,
myometrium and cervix investigated the effect of fennel seed
ethanol extract on gonadotropin changes in adult male rats.
Abbas, et al, (2009), reported that the fennel possess
Acaricidal activity against D. farina and D. pteronyssinus using
direct contact application and compared with that of the
commercial repellent benzyl benzoate. The biologically active
constituents of the Foeniculum vulgare fruit oil have been
identified as P-anisaldehyde, (+)-fen chone, (−) -fen hone, thymol
and estragol. The methanol extract of F. vulgare fruit has been
reported to exhibit mosquito repellent activity against Aides
aegypti females using skin and patch tests. The biologically active
constituents of the Foeniculum vulgare fruits were characterised
as (+)-fen hone and (z)-9-octadecanoic acid.
Delaram M et al. , investigated that fennel plant has
significant protective effect on gastrointestinal disorders. It was
shown that the use of fennel oil emulsion removed the collic in
65% of infants who were much better than the control group.
The effect of fennel plant on gastric ulcer. The findings showed
that the plant had a protective effect on gastric ulcer. In addition,
the herb reduced the muscular lining of the stomach. These
functions were attributed to its antioxidant capacity.
Abe R, et al. , investigated that some plants including
fennel herbs are used to enhance memory and intelligence.
Therefore, the effect of removing fennel on memory in amnesiac
mice was examined. The results showed that there was a memory
increase property in removing this. The effect of removing
fennel in the form of a neurotropic factor in mice and antiacetlocholinastase
was investigated. The findings of this study
have shown that acetylchlorastasus has been severely stopped
in fennel extract. According to this study it can be deduced that
fennel might be used min treatment of cognitive disorders such
as dementia and Alzheimer [18-20].
Research in medicinal plants has gained a renewed focus
recently. The main reason is that the other system of medicine
associated with number of side effects that often cause to
serious problems. Though traditionally Foeniculum vulgare
has various medicinal activities like antioxidant, ant diabetic,
hepatoprotective, ant diarrhoeal, diuretic etc, but it is time to
explore its medicinal values at molecular level with the help
of various biotechnological techniques. Pharmacognostical &
physicochemical studies have been reported. The work could
also be done in this direction to ensure free utility of the plant.