Chinese Name: Xiao hui xiang
Medical Name: Fructus Foeniculi
Latin Name: Foeniculum vulgare Mill. family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Origin: Ripe fruit, or seed.
Taste: Pungent, aniseed

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

TANG DYNASTY NEWLY REVISED MATERIA MEDICA: "Various syndromes of flaccidity, cholera and snake bite."

RI HUAZI MATERIA MEDICA: "To treat dry beriberi (a deficiency disease marked by inflammatory or degenerative changes of the nerves, digestive system and heart, and caused by a lack of or inability to assimilate thiamine), impairment of the kidneys caused by overstrain, hernia, bladder and vaginal pain by inducing appetite and promoting digestion."

Western Research

East Mediterr Health J. 2006 May-Jul;12(3-4):423-7.
Comparison of the effectiveness of fennel and mefenamic acid on pain intensity in dysmenorrhoea.
Modaress Nejad V, Asadipour M.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kerman University of Medial Sciences and Health Services, Kerman, Islamic Republic of Iran.
A study in Kerman, Islamic Republic of Iran in 2002 compared the effectiveness of fennel and mefenamic acid on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhoea. Two groups of high-school girls (mean age 13 years) suffering dysmenorrhoea were randomized to receive fennel extract (n = 55) or mefenamic acid (n = 55) for 2 months. In the fennel group, 80% of girls and in the mefenamic acid group, 73% of girls showed complete pain relief or pain decrease, while 80% in the fennel group and 62% in the mefenamic acid group no longer needed to rest. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups in the level of pain relief.

Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2003 Feb;80(2):153-7
Comparison of fennel and mefenamic acid for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea.
Namavar Jahromi B, Tartifizadeh A, Khabnadideh S.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
Seventy women who complained of dysmenorrhea were enrolled in this study. Each of the 30 cases with moderate to severe dysmenorrhea was evaluated for three cycles. In the third cycle, fennel extracts were given. It proved s a safe and effective herbal drug for primary dysmenorrhea, however, it may have a lower potency than mefenamic acid in the dosages used for this study.

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2006 Nov;7(9):556-61.
Efficacy of an herbal dietary supplement (Smooth Move) in the management of constipation in nursing home residents: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Bub S, Brinckmann J, Cicconetti G, Valentine B.
Cedarbrook Nursing Home, Allentown, PA, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the efficacy and cost effectiveness of an herbal tea, Smooth Move, in nursing home residents with chronic constipation. DESIGN: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-armed, parallel-group clinical trial. SETTING: A 483-bed nursing home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, operated by Lehigh County Government. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 86 nursing home residents with chronic constipation. INTERVENTIONS: Participants (n = 86) were randomly assigned to receive Smooth Move (n = 42) or a placebo (n = 44), once daily, in addition to standard treatment for chronic constipation. The study period was 28 days. MEASUREMENTS: The primary efficacy parameter was the difference in total number of bowel movements. Secondary parameters included the difference in average number of standard treatment doses dispensed, and the difference in total medication costs. RESULTS: Compared to placebo, in the intention to treat (ITT analysis) there was a statistically significant increase in the number of bowel movements in the Smooth Move group. The Smooth Move group (n = 42) compared with the placebo group (n = 44) experienced an average of 4.14 more bowel movements during the 28-day study period versus the 28-day pre-study period (P = .017). CONCLUSION: Smooth Move herbal tea, when added to the standard treatment regimen for nursing home residents with chronic constipation, increased the average number of bowel movements compared to the addition of a placebo tea.

Arch Pharm Res 2002 Apr;25(2):154-7
Antimicrobial constituents of Foeniculum vulgare.
Kwon YS, Choi WG, Kim WJ, Kim WK, Kim MJ, Kang WH, Kim CM.
College of Pharmacy, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Korea.
A phenyl propanoid derivative, dillapional(1) was found to be a antimicrobial principle of the stems of Foeniculum vulgare. A coumarin derivative, scopoletin(2) was also isolated as marginally antimicrobial agent along with inactive compounds. The isolates 1-6 were not active against the Escherichia coli.

Planta Med 2000 Dec;66(8):687-93
Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of Foeniculum vulgare and Crithmum maritimum essential oils.
Ruberto G, Baratta MT, Deans SG, Dorman HJ.
Istituto del C.N.R. per lo Studio delle Sostanze Naturali di Interesse Alimentare e Chimico-Farmaceutico, Valverde, CT, Italy.
Essential oils obtained from Crithmum maritimum L. and two samples of Foeniculum vulgare Miller were assayed for their antioxidant and antibacterial activities. The oils demonstrated antioxidant capacities, comparable in some cases to that of alpha-tocopherol and butylated hydroxytoluene. Oils from the two samples of F. vulgare showed a higher and broader degree of inhibition against twenty-five genera of bacteria than that of C. maritimum.

Oncogene 2000 Jun 8;19(25):2943-50
Anethole blocks both early and late cellular responses transduced by tumor necrosis factor: effect on NF-kappaB, AP-1, JNK, MAPKK and apoptosis.
Chainy GB, Manna SK, Chaturvedi MM, Aggarwal BB.
Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Anethole, a chief constituent of anise, camphor, and fennel, has been shown to block both inflammation and carcinogenesis, but just how these effects are mediated is not known. Our results demonstrate that anethole inhibits TNF-induced cellular responses, which may explain its role in suppression of inflammation and carcinogenesis.