Fennel is one of the most versatile plants there is, every bit of the plant can be used including roots, stalk, leaves and seeds. It is one of the oldest herbs and spices used and were introduced by the ancient Greeks. Now it is grown in several countries and has become native in the USA.
When used as a spice in foods it is mild and has a sweet and aromatic bouquet. It tastes very similar to anise only very much milder and the seeds are long, thin and curved with color variation from light green to brown. Fennel seeds can either be crushed in a spice mill or used whole, in the past puritans would chew it during the long church services they held.
Fennel when used as an herb has many culinary uses, with the leaves being used as a favorite in Italian and French cooking with its main use in sauce for fish. It is also used throughout the world to flavor bread, confectionary and cakes and is used in several liqueurs. It is also one of the main ingredients in Chinese five spices and is used as flavoring in curries. It is without a doubt one of the most versatile plants known to man and along with its uses in the food industry is also an ingredient in many over the counter herbal remedies.
If you have problems with sore or tired eyes then you could try fennel, it has long been used as an eyewash. It is thought to help with irritations of the eye and to bring immediate relief from eyestrain. Fennel is often sold as a remedy for babies and children, who are suffering from colic problems and is used as a drink to bring immediate relief. While if you are suffering from strep throat or laryngitis then gargling with fennel can help to reduce inflammation and ease the croakiness of your voice. If you suffer from respiratory problems such as coughs and bronchitis then fennel could help to ease your congestion and is a useful remedy for catarrh. The seeds of fennel have been used in the treatment of heartburn, bloated feeling and indigestion quite successfully and currently trials are being undertaken into its usefulness for regenerating the liver.
In renaissance Europe it was used to keep hunger at bay and was thought to be helpful in curing obesity. While studies are currently taking place at the other end of the scale as fennel is being tested in trials as a possible treatment for the disease anorexia nervosa.
Fennel is considered to be a cure for many stomach related problems, particularly effective in reliving gas and cramps. It is also used to relive high fevers and is a natural pain reliever, many of the over the counter herbal remedies that you buy contain fennel as it is used as a flavoring agent.
If you suffer from painful swellings or gout then fennel seed could be your answer if other more traditional drugs have failed, making this one of the most versatile and most useful plants around.
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