Complementary/Alternative Medicine: This monograph describes a natural or herbal product that is not subject to FDA guidelines for medicines. Patients and clinicians are advised to read package labels carefully to ensure safe and efficacious use.

Trade Name(s)

  • Carosella
  • finnochio
  • Foeniculum vulgare
  • Foeniculum officinale
  • Foeniculum capillaceum
  • Anethum foeniculum

Ther. Class.


Common Uses

  • GI tract spasticity, flatulence or bloating, anorexia
  • expectorant and cough suppressant
  • enhance lactation and promote menstruation


Fennel contains volatile oils which may promote GI motility and have antispasmodic effects, reduce upper respiratory tract secretions and increase mucociliatory activity. May have estrogenic effects.

Therapeutic Effect(s):

Relief from GI discomfort.


Absorption: Unknown.

Distribution: Unknown.

Metabolism and Excretion: Unknown.

Half-life: Unknown.


PO, Topicalunknownunknownunknown


Contraindicated in:

  • Allergy to carrot, celery, mugwort or other members of the Apiaceae family
  • OB:  Pregnancy and lactation.

Use Cautiously in:

  • Hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast, uterine, and ovarian, as well as other conditions, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, due to possible estrogenic effects
  • Fennel oil should not be consumed for more thantwo weeks). Alcohol-containing products should be used cautiously in patients with known intolerance or liver disease.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Derm: photosensitivity

* CAPITALS indicate life-threatening.
Underline indicate most frequent.


Natural Drug Interaction


None known.


PO (Adults): Tea: steep 1–2 g dried fruit or seed in 150 mL boiling water and strain. One cup tea QD-TID;  Tincture: 5–7.5 g per day;  Oil: 0.1–0.6 mL per day. Fennel oil should not be consumed for more than 2 wk.


Tea: OTC

Dried fruit/seed: OTC

Tincture: OTC

Oil: OTC


  • Assess frequency and nature of cough and consistency and color of sputum. Unless contraindicated encourage fluid intake of 1500–2000 mL per day to decrease viscosity of secretions and facilitate expectoration.
  • Assess appetite, flatulence, and bowel elimination before and during therapy.


  • May be administered without regard for food intake.
  • Do not take for longer than 2 wk.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Instruct patients that grow this herb not to confuse it with Hemlock, which may be fatal if ingested.
  • Inform patients that there is insufficient information to recommend use of this herbal supplement.
  • Advise patients not to use this herb for longer than 2 wk.
  • Caution patients to use sunscreen and protective clothing to prevent photosensitivity reactions.
  • Advise female patients to avoid use of fennel if pregnancy is planned or suspected.
  • Inform patients that the long term risks of this herb are not known.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Improved appetite and decrease in intestinal discomfort.
  • Decrease in intensity and frequency of cough without suppression in cough reflex.
  • Regular menstrual flow.

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