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FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)

DESCRIPTION:


Botany: Foeniculum vulgare is a perennial herb with erect stem growing up to 1.5 m high.  It is generally considered to be native of the Mediterranean region, but cultivated as an annual or perennial worldwide (Argentina, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, China, India, etc.).
 
The part used is the dried ripe fruit (seed) from which an essential oil is obtained by steam distillation.  There are two commonly used varieties of fennel, bitter and sweet fennel.  The two forms of fennel are very similar and not always distinguished. Bitter fennel oil is used only to limited extend, mainly in cosmetics.  
 
Biochemistry: Foeniculum vulgare contains volatile oil and fixed oil composed primarily of petroselinic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid with a relatively high concentration of tocopherols, and flavonoids.  It contains proteins, vitamins and mineral (relatively high in calcium and potassium).  The volatile oil contains mostly trans-anetol, with lesser amounts of fenchone, estragole, limonene, camphene, α-pinene, among others.
 
Products:
Foeniculum vulgare botanical extract
Foeniculum vulgare var. vulgare. Fennel, Bitter.
Foeniculum vulgare dulce. Fennel, Sweet.
 

USES:


Foeniculum vulgare botanical extract
Traditional use: Topically, fennel is good for conjunctivitis, and blepharitis (eyewash).  An infusion placed over the eyes for 20 minutes will soothe and strengthen tired eyes.  The leaves pounded with vinegar are very good against boils and other inflammations.  Externally, a decoction can help those suffering from headache or migraine.
 
Foeniculum vulgare var. vulgare. Fennel, Bitter.
Fennel has been used as a flavouring and a scent. 
 
Foeniculum vulgare dulce. Fennel, Sweet.
Topically, fennel is good for conjunctivitis, and blepharitis (as eyewash). Useful as an oil when rubbed onto affected parts to relieve rheumatic pains. 
 
Bitter (common) fennel and sweet fennel oils are used as fragrance components in cosmetics, including soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, and perfumes, with highest average maximum use level of 0.4% reported for both oils and perfumes.
 
A cream containing 2% of the ethanolic extracts of fennel was effective in reducing excessive hair growth in women diagnosed with idiopathic hirsutism.
 

TOXICOLOGY:


Xi - Irritant
 
The principal hazards with fennel itself are photo-dermatitis and contact dermatitis.  A serious hazard associated with fennel is that poison hemlock can easily be mistaken for the herb.
 
Estragole has been reported to cause tumours in animals.
 
Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by the industry panel.
 
FIELD HORSETAIL (Equisetum arvense)

 

DESCRIPTION
Names: Oblivion Horsetail, common Horsetail, Bottle Brush, Paddock-Pipes, Dutch Rushes
 
Botany: Equisetum arvense is a herbaceous perennial rhizomatous plant of the Equisetaceae family.  Early in the spring, it grows from a deep, articulated root straight-chained fertile brownish stems.   The fertile stems grow 10-20 cm and 3-5 cm diameter.  On the top of the stems spores develop and as soon as spores are mature, the fertile shoots die. In the early summer, green hollow infertile stems grow from the root with up to 20 segments. Sterile stems are 10-90 cm tall and 3-5 cm diameter.  From the stem joints grow long, needle-like leaves that are smaller at the end and facing up.  It is native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of northern hemisphere.  It grows in the swamps, trenches, on moist and sandy meadows, and fields.  Field horsetail is primarily known as a persistent weed.
 
History and/or folklore: The 30 or so species of horsetail that survive today are relics of species that formed the great forests of 300 million years ago. 
 
Culpepper and Dioscorides extol the virtues of it for staunching bleeding. Galen recommended horsetail for healing sinews and to strengthen the lungs and give strength generally.
 
Biochemistry: Botanical extract contains acids (silicilic - 10%, ferulic, ascorbic, malic, caffeic, gallic, pectic, tannic, oxalic, aconitinic), campesterol, equisetrin, equisetonin, alkaloids (nicotine, palustrine), amino acids (niacin), fibre, minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, silicon, selenium, and zinc), flavonoids and bitter substances.
 
Products:
Equisetum arvense botanical extract
 
USES
Equisetum arvense botanical extract 
Traditional use: Historically, a decoction applied externally was said to stop bleeding of wounds, heal wounds and reduce the swelling of eyelids.  An infusion of the whole plant (above ground) was used for rinsing hair (the high content of silica prevents dry hair, baldness, seborrhoea, and dandruff) and strengthening nails.
 
In cosmetics it is mainly used in preparations against wrinkles, bruising and cellulitis. 
 
For medicinal purposes only the green barren stems are used, gathered over the summer.  The botanical extract is used to promote secretion of water from the body and eliminate kidney sand and stones. It is also used to prevent haemorrhage and it is a remedy for pulmonary disease, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.  It is recommended in diets to enhance metabolism and kidney function.  Herbalists also recommend it for rheumatism and gout. 
 
Horsetail tea is gargled in case of inflammation of oral mucosa and gums. It lowers blood pressure and reduces and relieves problems associated with varicose veins and broken capillaries.
 
TOXICOLOGY
Contraindication: Horsetail is a plant with strong diuretic properties; its internal use can produce problems in blood pressure; before use, a doctor should be consulted. It should not be administered during pregnancy or nursing.
 
Many professionals consider horsetail too dangerous to use as a medicinal plant (as it contains silicates, alkaloids, and enzymes such as thiaminase).