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Fennel

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Fennel is botanically named as Foeniculum vulgare. It is a plant species in the genus Foeniculum. It is a member of the family Apiaceae (formerly the Umbelliferae). It is a hardy, perennial herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, but has become widely naturalised in many parts of the world. Fennel is a perennial herb. It is erect, glaucous green, and grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long. The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5–15 cm wide, each umbel section having 20–50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. The fruit is a dry seed from 4–10 mm long.
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Botanical Names
Foeniculum vulgare
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Shatpushpa Hindi : Saunf, Badi Saunf, Bari Saunf Marathi : Badishep Bengali : Mouri, Mauri Gujarati : Variyali Telugu : Sopu Tamil : Shombu
Chemical Constituents
Foeniculurn vulgare ripe fruit revealed the presence of sterols and triterpenes, flavonoids, coumarins and volatile oils. (1) GC and GC–MS analysis of Foeniculum vulgare volatile oil showed the presence of 35 components. The major component was trans-anethole. The analysis of fennel acetone extract showed the presence of nine components. Linoleic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid were found as major components in extract. These properties are due to many active phytochemicals including flavanoids, terpenoids, carotenoids, coumarins, curcumines etc. These bioactive principles have also been confirmed using modern analytical techniques (1). The volatile oils of seeds of F. vulgare were investigated by GC and GC-MS. Two different chemotypes were found in the seeds: methylchavicol and fenchone collected from Santander; and (II) (E)-anethole and fenchone from Aranjuez. Leaf and stem essential oils of F. vulgare from Aranjuez were also examined. The leaf essential oil from Aranjuez contained methylchavicol (12.3-12.1%), α-phellandrene, limonene and fenchone as major constituents. The essential oil from stems gathered in Aranjuez was characterized by a high content of (E)-anethole, α-pinene, α-phellandrene, p-cymene, limonene and fenchone (2).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
The ripe fruit of the plant is widely utilized in Arabian folk medicine systems as a diuretic, stimulant, appetizer, digestive, an infantile febrifuge and to treat various other ailments. The ethanol extract of the ripe fruit of Foeniculum vulgare contained ingredients that acts as analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial agents; also an active principle that enhanced bile flow. These activities were noticed after a single dose administration of the crude extract of the plant to animals (3). Essential oils from the fruits of Foeniculum vulgare had shown antibacterial activity in vitro to Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium, bacteria routinely used for comparison in the antimicrobial assays, and 27 phytopathogenic bacterial species and two mycopathogenic ones responsible for cultivated mushroom diseases (4). F. vulgare essential oils may also be useful as natural bactericides for the control of bacterial diseases of plants and for seed treatment. The antibacterial activity of fennel essential oils against the bacterial pathogens of mushrooms has been observed. The antifungal and anti oxidative potentials were also carried out. The volatile oil showed complete zone inhibition against Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium moniliforme (5).Hepatoprotective activity of Foeniculum vulgare essential oil was studied using carbon tetrachloride induced liver injury model in rats. The hepatotoxicity produced by acute CCl4 administration was found to be inhibited by FEO with evidence of decreased levels of serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and bilirubin. The results of this study indicate that FEO has a potent hepatoprotective action against CCl4-induced hepatic damage in rats (6)
Health Benefits
It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses, and along with the similar-tasting anise. In addition to its use as medicinal values, fennel has many health benefiting nutrients, anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. Fennel seeds contain numerous flavonoid anti-oxidants like kaempferol and quercetin. These compounds function as powerful anti-oxidants by removing harmful free radicals from the body thus protect from aging and degenerative neurological diseases (7). Oral administration (200 mg/kg) of Foeniculum vulgare fruit methanolic extract exhibited inhibitory effects against acute and subacute inflammatory diseases and type IV allergic reactions and showed a central analgesic effect. Moreover, it significantly increased the plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activities and the high density lipoprotein–cholesterol level. On the contrary, the malondialdehyde (MDA) (as a measure of lipid peroxidation) level was significantly decreased in F. vulgare fruit methanolic extract group compared to the control group (P
Research References
1. Gurdip S., Sumitra M., M.P. de Lampasona and C. Catalan Chemical constituents, antifungal and antioxidative potential of Foeniculum vulgare volatile oil and its acetone extract Food Control 17 (2006) 745–752 2. García-Jiménez N., Pérez-Alonso M. J., Velasco-Negueruela A., Chemical composition of fennel oil, Foeniculum vulgare Miller, from Spain. Journal of Essential Oil Research 2000 (12)2:159-162 3. M. 0. M. Tanira., A. H. Shah, A. Mohsin. And A. M. Ageel, S. Qureshi harmacological and Toxicological Investigations on Foeniculum vulgare Dried Fruit Extract in experimental Animals HYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH, (10)33-36 (1996) 4. PIETRO LO C., NICOLA S. I., ADRIANA DE M., FRANCESCO C. AND FELICE S.Antibacterial Activity of Coriandrum sativum L. and Foeniculum vulgare Miller Var. vulgare (Miller) Essential Oils J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004, 52, 7862-7866 5. Yong S. K., Won G. C., Won J. K., Woo K. cK., Myong J. K., Won H. K. and Chang M. K. Antimicrobial constituents of foeniculum vulgare Archives of Pharmacal Research 25(2):154-157 6. Sanae E. B., Badiaa L., Maurice W. and Nicole M. PHARMACOLOGICAL EVIDENCE OF HYPOTENSIVE ACTIVITY OF MARRUBIUM VULGARE AND FOENICULUM VULGARE IN SPONTANEOUSLY HYPERTENSIVE RAT 2001, 23(4):329-343 7. Do-Hyoung K., Soon-Il K., Kyu-Sik C. and Young-Joon Ahn Repellent Activity of Constituents Identified in Foeniculum vulgare Fruit against Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (24):6993–6996 8. Eun-Mi Choi and Jae-Kwan Hwang Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare Fitoterapia 75 (6): 557-565