Fennel oil is extracted by steam distillation from the seeds of the plant. It is very strong in odour, and in colour is clear with a slightly yellow tinge. It has bactericidal properties and is an ingredient in some toothpastes and mouthwashes, as it combats some of the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Its antibacterial, laxative and carminative properties have made it popular with the pharmaceutical industry where it is used extensively. It is also an ingredient in some perfumed products. Used in massage, particularly over the lower abdomen and back, fennel oil will soothe a nervous indigestion or irritated bowel. Flatulence and bloating can also be helped with gen-tie massage. Those who have problems with micturation often find that fennel helps to produce a steadier stream of urine. Its mild diuretic action can help with excessive fluid retention. Because of its strong odour, you may well find that fennel does not make a pleasing blend with other oils, but as its use tends to be more therapeutic than sensual, there is no need to blend fennel oil with other oils. Always dilute it well as it is strong and can irritate the skin - a 1,1/2 per cent dilution is quite sufficient. Fennel can be used in vaporizers and because of its expectorant qualities is thought to help catarrhal coughs. Fennel has an effect similar to that of the hormone oestrogen - this is why it is used to stimulate lactation and increase milk production - and it is not suitable for use during pregnancy. Suitable methods of use Compresses, inhalation, massage, mouthwashes, vaporizer/diffuser.
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