Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents

J Ethnopharmacol. 1980 Dec;2(4):337-44. doi: 10.1016/s0378-8741(80)81015-4.


Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, and anise, Pimpinella anisum, are plants which have been used as estrogenic agents for millennia. Specifically, they have been reputed to increase milk secretion, promote menstruation, facilitate birth, alleviate the symptoms of the male climacteric, and increase libido. In the 1930s, some interest was shown in these plants in the development of synthetic estrogens. The main constituent of the essential oils of fennel and anise, anethole, has been considered to be the active estrogenic agent. However, further research suggests that the actual pharmacologically active agents are polymers of anethole, such as dianethole and photoanethole.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Animals
  • Anisoles / pharmacology
  • Aphrodisiacs
  • Chemistry
  • Condiments
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal* / isolation & purification
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Rats


  • Allylbenzene Derivatives
  • Anisoles
  • Aphrodisiacs
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • fennel oil, bitter
  • anethole