Xiao Hui Xiang (Fructus Foeniculi or Fennel Fruit)

What Is Xiao Hui Xiang

Xiao Hui Xiang commonly known as Fructus Foeniculi or Fennel Fruit is the ripe fruit of Foeniculum vulgare, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is an edible spice, which first appeared in <Tang Ben Cao> in 659 AD.

There are 5 species in this genus, which are mainly distributed in Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. Among them, the most representative is Foeniculum vulgare.

Foeniculum vulgare is also known as Fennel and is a long-day flowering plant. They are native to the Mediterranean region and are now widely distributed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. As an economic plant, they are cultivated in large numbers.

When the fruits of Foeniculum vulgare are first ripe in autumn, people gather their above-ground parts, dry them in the sun, pat them, take out their fruits, use them directly, stir-fry them with saltwater, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Foeniculum vulgare

Xiao Hui Xiang contains anisole, trans-anethole, estragole, anisaldehyde, 1,8-cineol, α-terpinol, β-terpinol, fenchone, camphor, citrene, α-pinene, β-pinene, β-myrcene, phellandrene, quercetin, kaempferol, apigenin, isoquercitrin, rutin, eriocitrin, hesperidin, rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, caprylic acid, lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, arachidic acid, linolenic acid, alkaloids, campesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, triterpenes, organic acids, amino acids, and some inorganic elements.

Generally, yellow-green or light yellow Xiao Hui Xiang with a pentagonal cross-section and a specific fragrance is preferred.

According to <Tang Ben Cao>, the medicinal property of Xiao Hui Xiang is relatively warm, with a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, kidney, spleen, and stomach meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to dispel cold and relieve pain, regulate qi-flowing for harmonizing stomach, and treat abdominal pain, flatulence, periumbilical abdominal pain in children, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, duodenal ulcer, oral ulcer, unilateral sagging of the testicle, dysmenorrhea, incarcerated hernia, enuresis, frequent urination, hydrocele, and elephantiasis of scrotum.

There are about 50 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as An Wei Zhi Tong San, Shi Si Wei Qiang Huo Feng Shi Jiu, and Shi Di Shui.

Benefits

  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling in mice and carrageenan-induced foot swelling in rats.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Reducing the body temperature of mice with fever caused by the aqueous suspension of brewer’s yeast.
  • Raising the pain threshold and reducing the number of writhing reactions caused by acetic acid.
  • Reducing the plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein content of hyperlipidemia rats, and increasing the high-density lipoprotein content.
  • Reducing blood glucose levels in rats caused by alloxan or streptozotocin.
  • Reducing liver damage induced by CCL4 and protecting the liver.
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation induced by adenosine diphosphate, arachidonic acid, and collagen.
  • Promoting the peristalsis of the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, improving the blood supply in the abdominal cavity and blood circulation in the intestinal wall, reducing intestinal wall edema and congestion, and improving the intestinal mucosal barrier function.
  • Inhibiting the contraction of the isolated ileum of guinea pigs caused by acetylcholine or histamine.
  • Dispelling cold, treating periumbilical colic due to cold, cold pain in the lateral lower abdomen caused by cold invading the liver meridian, and dysmenorrhea caused by deficiency and cold in the Chong and Ren meridians.
  • Warming kidney and liver, treating stagnation of liver-qi and swelling with bearing-down pain of one testis.
  • Regulating qi-flowing for harmonizing stomach, treating abdominal distension and pain caused by stomach cold and qi stagnation.
  • Treating abdominal distension and pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of prostate PC-3 cells and inducing apoptosis of breast cancer MDA-Mb cells, MCF-7 cells, and cervical cancer HeLa cells.
  • Its volatile oil has a certain inhibitory effect on Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans, Salmonella, and Shigella.
  • Anethole can promote the secretion of the milk-producing hormone prolactin and increase the secretion of milk[1].
  • It has an estrogen-like effect, which can promote menstruation and relieve the symptoms of menopause in women.
    Studies have found that its ethanol extract can promote urine excretion and sodium excretion.

Combinations

  • It can be used in combination with Wu Yao (Radix Linderae), Qing Pi (Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium Viride), and Gao Liang Jiang (Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum) to treat periumbilical colic due to cold.
  • It can be used in combination with Ju He (Semen Citri Reticulatae), and Shan Zha (Hawthorn Fruit) to treat stagnation of liver-qi and swelling with bearing-down pain of one testis.
  • It can be used in combination with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), and Rou Gui (Cortex Cinnamomi) to treat cold pain in the lateral lower abdomen caused by cold invading the liver meridian, and dysmenorrhea caused by deficiency and cold in the Chong and Ren meridians.
  • It can be used in combination with Gao Liang Jiang (Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum), Xiang Fu (Rhizoma Cyperi), and Wu Yao (Radix Linderae) to treat abdominal distension and pain caused by stomach cold and qi stagnation.
  • It can be used in combination with Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), and Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) to treat abdominal distension and pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.

Side Effects

At present, there are no reports in the literature that Xiao Hui Xiang has a toxic effect.

Some data show that it may cause mammary gland hyperplasia in women or premature breast growth in girls.

A small proportion of patients taking it may cause allergic reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Xiao Hui Xiang should be controlled at 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or powders.
  • People who are allergic to Xiao Hui Xiang should not take it.
  • It should not be used to treat abdominal pain caused by indigestion.
  • People with hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.