Aromatherapy: Healing with Fennel Oil

Warming and stimulating, fennel has a long tradition as a digestive tonic. The seeds of the herb are crushed to give a strongly scented, sweet, peppery oil. Fennel has potent properties. Used sparingly, it has an enlivening, energising and revitalising effect on the mind and body.

Fennel's main action is on the digestion, where it has a regulating and 'unblocking' action. It is effective in relieving nausea, indigestion, constipation and flatulence.

Fennel for your detox regime

Use fennel to detoxify your body as it acts as a tonic for the kidneys, liver and spleen. It is also a diuretic, promoting the flow of urine and helping to reduce fluid retention in tissues - as it is especially useful before menstruation. Fennel also regulates periods and stimulates the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers.

Active Ingredients of Fennel Oil

Fennel oil is mainly composed of phenolic ethers and ketones with traces of aldehydes and monoterpenes.


Around 15% of fennel oil is made up of the ketone fenchone. Ketones have analgesic (pain-relieving) and digestive properties, but can be hazardous if used over prolonged periods of time or in high doses.

Phenolic esters

The principle chemicals in fennel oil are anethole and methyl chavicol. These potent compounds are highly antiseptic and stimulate the immune and nervous system. They are also neurotoxic and potentially carcinogenic. As over 70% of fennel oil is made up of these compounds, the oil should be used sparingly.

Using Fennel in Aromatherapy

Fennel is a versatile aromatherapy oil that regulates and balances your body's systems. Use it in the following blends to balance hormones, ease water retention and aid digestion.

Oestrogen Substitute

Fennel is a natural source of a plant hormone that mimics the female hormone oestrogen.

Regulate periods

To treat irregular periods, apply a compress containing the following oils added to a bowl of water to the abdomen.

2 drops basil
2 drops fennel
2 drops melissa

aromatherapy compress

As a general tonic for the female reproductive system, massage the stomach and back with:

4 drops cypress oil
4 drops clary sage oil
2 drops fennel oil
30ml sweet almond oil

Nursing mothers

Promote the flow of breast milk by massaging the breasts with:

5 drops fennel oil
30ml sweet almond oil

The Magic of Fennel

Fennel has magical associations with fire. The ancient Greeks believed that knowledge came to man from the gods in the form of a fiery coal field in a fennel stalk.

The ancient Romans believed that chewing fennel could prevent obesity. Early American Puritans also believed it could stave off hunger.

In medieval times, fennel was pushed into keyholes to prevent ghosts and spirits from entering the house.

Tuck sprigs of fennel into horses' bridles to keep away flies.

Circulation Stimulant

Stimulate sluggish circulation with fennel to gain relief from the building up of fluids and toxins.

Ease swollen feet

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Cypress acts as a tonic to the circulatory system, complimenting fennel's 'moving' action. Ease puffy, swollen feet with a blend of:
5 drops cypress oil
5 drops fennel oil
20ml grapeseed oil

Relieve painful gout

Treat gout by gently massaging the affected area with:
3 drops fennel oil
6 drops juniper oil
6 drops lemon oil
25ml grapeseed oil
This blend will stimulate circulation and helps to clear away accumulated toxins.

Digestive Aid

Tone, soothe and regulate the body's digestive processes with fennel.

Ease gut cramps
For relief from digestive cramps, make a warm compress by soaking a flannel in a bowl of water containing:
3 drops fennel oil
1 drop peppermint oil
6 drops rosemary oil
Apply across the abdomen.

Soothe indigestion
Relieve indigestion with a chest and back massage blend containing:
3 drops fennel oil
5 drops orange oil
3 drops sage oil
25ml grapeseed oil
All three of these essential oils work to calm and balance the digestion - but don't massage immediately after eating as the massage itself can disrupt digestion.

Detoxifying Fennel

Make use of fennel's diuretic action to clean your urinary system

Water retention

Relieve symptoms of bloatedness due to water retention by massaging the abdomen and lower back with a blend of:
3 drops fennel oil
5 drops juniper oil
10 drops lemon oil
2 drops peppermint oil
25ml sweet almond oil

stomach massage

A massage blend of the following oils aids lymphatic drainage of the tissues:
3 drops clary sage oil
6 drops fennel oil
2 drops geranium oil
2 drops rosemary oil
25ml grapeseed oil

Diuretic bath

Aid your body's ability to detox by adding to your bath water:
2 drops fennel oil
3 drops lemon oil
3 drops juniper oil