Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 73–79 | Cite as

Medicinal properties of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. in traditional Iranian medicine and modern phytotherapy

  • Roja RahimiEmail author
  • Mohammad Reza Shams Ardekani


Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (F. vulgare), commonly known as Fennel, is a popular medicinal plant with various pharmacological activities mentioned in traditional Iranian medicine (TIM) and modern phytotherapy such as antioxidant, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, bronchodilatory, estrogenic, diuretic, lithontripic, galactogogue, emmenagogue, antithrombotic, hypotensive, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, memory enhancing, and antimutagenic activities. No serious adverse events were recorded after ingestion of F. vulgare except some cases of allergic reactions. The estrogenic activity of F. vulgare brings some side effects such as decrease in protein concentration and acid and alkaline phosphatase in male genital organs, increase in weight of mammary glands and reproductive organs in women and premature thelarche in girls. However, no evidence of teratogenicity was recorded, it is better not to use F. vulgare during pregnancy due to its estrogenic activity. Because of inhibition of cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4), the pharmacokinetic parameters of drugs mainly metabolized by this isozyme may be affected by F. vulgare. In addition, a significant interaction between cyprofloxacin and F. vulgare was demonstrated. The aim of current paper is to review pharmacological properties, toxicity and adverse events, and drug interactions of vulgare and brings conclusive results about the use of this plant in men, women and during pregnancy.


Foeniculum vulgare Mill. Fennel pharmacological activity traditional Iranian medicine modern phytotherapy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Aghili MH, ed. Drug reservoir (Persian). Tehran, Iran: Tehran University of Medical Sciences; 2009: 405–406.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Razi M, ed. Content in medicine (Arabic). Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al Kotob Al-ilmiyah; 2000:20–21.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibn Sina, ed. Canon in medicine (Arabic) Persian Translated by A. Sharafkandi. Tehran, Iran: Soroush Press; 2005:54.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tonkaboni MM, ed. Gift of believers (Persian). Tehran, Iran: Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences; 2007:164.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ghahraman A, ed. Colored flora of Iran (Persian). Tehran, Iran: Forest & Ranglands Research Institute Press; 2000:165.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Aghili MH, ed. Summary of wisdom (Persian). Quom, Iran: Esmailian; 2006:35–42.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chaghmini MM, ed. Little canon in medicine (Arabic). Persian translated by MT Mir. Tehran, Iran: Iran University of Medical Sciences; 2004:1–4.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shahabi S, Hassan ZM, Mahdavi M, Dezfouli M, Rahvar MT, Naseri M, et al. Hot and cold natures and some parameters of neuroendocrine and immune systems in traditional Iranian medicine: a preliminary study. J Alternat Complement Med 2008;14:147–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mimica-Dukić N, Kujundzić S, Soković M, Couladis M. Essential oil composition and antifungal activity of Foeniculum vulgare Mill obtained by different distillation conditions. Phytother Res 2003;17:368–37PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaur GJ, Arora DS. Antibacterial and phytochemical screening of Anethum graveolens, Foeniculum vulgare and Trachyspermum ammi. BMC Complement Altern Med 2009;9:30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Jauregui PO, Sanchez-Rabaneda F, Viladomat F, Bastida J, Codina C. Separation and characterization of phenolic compounds in fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) using liquid chromatography-negative electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52:3679–3687.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Shams Ardekani MR, Rahimi R, Javadi B, Abdi L, Khanavi M. Relationship between temperaments of medicinal plants and their major chemical compounds. J Tradit Chin Med 2011;31:27–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mohamad RH, El-Bastawesy AM, Abdel-Monem MG, Noor AM, Al-Mehdar HA, Sharawy SM, et al. Antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects of methanolic extract and volatile oil of fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare). J Med Food 2011;14:986–1001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Celik I, Isik I. Determination of chemopreventive role of Foeniculum vulgare and Salvia officinalis infusion on trichloroacetic acid-induced increased serum marker enzymes lipid peroxidation and antioxidative defense systems in rats. Nat Prod Res 2008;22:66–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Choi EM, Hwang JK. Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare. Fitoterapia 2004;75:557–565.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bogucka-Kocka A, Smolarz HD, Kocki J. Apoptotic activities of ethanol extracts from some Apiaceae on human leukaemia cell lines. Fitoterapia 2008;79:487–497.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Barros L, Heleno SA, Carvalho AM, Ferreira IC. Systematic evaluation of the antioxidant potential of different parts of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. from portugal. Food Chem Toxicol 2009;47:2458–2464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    De Marino S, Gala F, Borbone N, Zollo F, Vitalini S, Visioli F, et al. Phenolic glycosides from Foeniculum vulgare fruit and evaluation of antioxidative activity. Phytochemistry 2007;68:1805–1812.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pai MB, Prashant GM, Murlikrishna KS, Shivakumar KM, Chandu GN. Antifungal efficacy of Punica granatum, Acacia nilotica, Cuminum cyminum and Foeniculum vulgare on Candida albicans: an in vitro study. Ind J Dent Res 2010;21:334–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dadalioglu I, Evrendilek GA. Chemical compositions and antibacterial effects of essential oils of Turkish oregano (Origanum minutiflorum), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.), and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on common foodborne pathogens. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52:8255–8260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Stoia A, Hamill FA, Fabricant D, Dietz BM, et al. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Phytother Res 2005;19:988–991.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cwikla C, Schmidt K, Matthias A, Bone KM, Lehmann R, Tiralongo E. Investigations into the antibacterial activities of phytotherapeutics against Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni. Phytother Res 2010;24:649–656.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Jazani NH, Zartoshti M, Babazadeh H, Ali-daiee N, Zarrin S, Hosseini S. Antibacterial effects of Iranian fennel essential oil on isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii. Pak J Biol Sci 2009;12:738–741.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Boskabady MH, Khatami A, Nazari A. Possible mechanism(s) for relaxant effects of Foeniculum vulgare on guinea pig tracheal chains. Pharmazie 2004;59:561–564.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Albert-Puleo M. Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents. J Ethnopharmacol 1980;2:337–344.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Malini T, Vanithakumari G, Megala N, Anusya S, Devi K, Elango V. Effect of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. seed extract on the genital organs of male and female rats. Ind J Physiol Pharmacol 1985;29:21–26.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Modaress Nejad V, Asadipour M. Comparison of the effectiveness of fennel and mefenamic acid on pain intensity in dysmenorrhoea. East Mediterr Health J 2006;12:423–427.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Namavar Jahromi B, Tartifizadeh A, Khabnadideh S. Comparison of fennel and mefenamic acid for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2003;80:153–157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ostad SN, Soodi M, Shariffzadeh M, Khorshidi N, Marzban H. The effect of fennel essential oil on uterine contraction as a model for dysmenorrhea, pharmacology and toxicology study. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;76:299–304.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Javidnia K, Dastgheib L, Mohammadi Samani S, Nasiri A. Antihirsutism activity of Fennel (fruits of Foeniculum vulgare) extract: a double-blind placebo controlled study. Phytomedicine 2003;10:455–458.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Elghblawi E. Idiopathic hirsutism: excessive bodily and facial hair in women. Br J Nurs 2008;17:192–197.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Agarwal R, Gupta SK, Agrawal SS, Srivastava S, Saxena R. Oculohypotensive effects of Foeniculum vulgare in experimental models of glaucoma. Ind J Physiol Pharmacol 2008;52:77–83.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Saraswat M, Muthenna P, Suryanarayana P, Petrash JM, Reddy GB. Dietary sources of aldose reductase inhibitors: prospects for alleviating diabetic complications. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17:558–565.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tognolini M, Ballabeni V, Bertoni S, Bruni R, Impicciatore M, Barocelli E. Protective effect of Foeniculum vulgare essential oil and anethole in an experimental model of thrombosis. Pharmacol Res 2007;56:254–260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Birdane FM, Cemek M, Birdane YO, Gülçin I, Büyükokuroğlu ME. Beneficial effects of Foeniculum vulgare on ethanol-induced acute gastric mucosal injury in rats. World J Gastroenterol 2007;13:607–611.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Alexandrovich I, Rakovitskaya O, Kolmo E, Sidorova T, Shushunov S. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebocontrolled study. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9:58–61.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ozbek H, Uğraş S, Dülger H, Bayram I, Tuncer I, Oztürk G, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of Foeniculum vulgare essential oil. Fitoterapia 2003;74:317–319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Joshi H, Parle M. Chol inergic basis of memorystrengthening effect of Foeniculum vulgare Linn. J Med Food 2006;9:413–417.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    El Bardai S, Lyoussi B, Wibo M, Morel N. Pharmacological evidence of hypotensive activity of Marrubium vulgare and Foeniculum vulgare in spontaneously hypertensive rat. Clin Exp Hypertens 2001;23:329–343.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Abdul-Ghani AS, Amin R. The vascular action of aqueous extracts of Foeniculum vulgare leaves. J Ethnopharmacol 1988;24:213–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ebeed NM, Abdou HS, Booles HF, Salah SH, Ahmed ES, Fahmy K. Antimutagenic and chemoprevention potentialities of sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) hot water crude extract. J Am Sci 2010;6:831–842.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Tripathi P, Tripathi R, Patel RK, Pancholi SS. Investigation of antimutagenic potential of Foeniculum vulgare essential oil on cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity and oxidative stress in mice. Drug Chem Toxicol 2013;36:35–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Shah AH, Qureshi S, Ageel AM. Toxicity studies in mice of ethanol extracts of Foeniculum vulgare fruit and Ruta chalepensis aerial parts. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;34:167–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Taylor JM. Fennel. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1964;6:378–387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Türkyilmaz Z, Karabulut R, Sönmez K, Can Başaklar A. A striking and frequent cause of premature thelarche in children: Foeniculum vulgare. J Pediatr Surg 2008;43:2109–2111.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ostad SN, Khakinegad B, Sabzevari O. Evaluation of the teratogenicity of fennel essential oil (FEO) on the rat embryo limb buds culture. Toxicol In Vitro 2004;18:623–627.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    De Vincenzi M, Silano M, Maialetti F, Scazzocchio B. Constituents of aromatic plants: II. Estragole. Fitoterapia 2000;71:725–729.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Levy SB. Bronchial asthma due to ingestion of fennel and fennel seed. Ann Allergy 1948;6:415.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Schwartz HJ, Jones RT, Rojas AR, Squillace DL, Yunginger JW. Occupational allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma due to fennel seed. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1997;78:37–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Subehan, Usia T, Iwata H, Kadota S, Tezuka Y. Mechanismbased inhibition of CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 by Indonesian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;105:449–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Subehan, Zaidi SF, Kadota S, Tezuka Y. Inhibition on human liver cytochrome P450 3A4 by constituents of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): identification and characterization of a mechanism-based inactivator. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:10162–10167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Zhu M, Wong PY, Li RC. Effect of oral administration of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on ciprofloxacin absorption and disposition in the rat. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:1391–1396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Kraft K, Hobbs C, eds. Pocket guide to herbal medicine. New York, USA: Thieme; 2004:65.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Iten F, Saller R. Fennel tea: risk assessment of the phytogenic monosubstance estragole in comparison to the natural multicomponent mixture. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2004;11:104–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Traditional Pharmacy, Faculty of Traditional MedicineTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of PharmacyTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

Personalised recommendations