Herbs A-Z: Filipendula & Foeniculum

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We’re back on track! Today we continue our exploration of herbs in our home apothecary, giving you some unscripted thoughts about these herbs we work with very frequently. They’re the plants we want to have with us always, and it’s been fun to see the synchronicities that emerge as we progress in alphabetical-by-Latin order. Today’s plants make an interesting contrast.

Filipendula ulmaria, meadowsweet, is cooling/drying/tonifying. Its salicylates & other astringent elements make it excellent as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial when the tissues are spongy and red. We’ve found it very helpful for dental issues, including the irritations caused by braces. It is excellent for gastrointestinal inflammation also, famously helpful for ulcers & heartburn. It is not, though, “antacid” – as is sometimes claimed!

Foeniculum vulgare, fennel, on the other hand, is a warming/moistening/relaxant herb. It’s one of our “sweet demulcents”, like licorice, which can moisten tissues without the “slimy” feel of mucilaginous demulcents such as marshmallow. Fennel is important as a corrigent – which doesn’t only mean “improves flavor”, but implies an ability to balance out formulae. In this case, it’s great for folks who run dry and tense and need that balanced out if they’re going to take herbs like sage or dandelion. Fennel’s also intriguing because, while cholagogue, it’s not bitter.
These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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