The fennel plant has a lot to offer. The root is used as a vegetable, the seeds as a spice and the leaves as a herb. Even the pollen can be eaten, but good like finding that in the supermarket! Fennel is native to the Mediterranean, but commonly used in Chinese, Iranian and Italian cuisine.
Fennel seeds have a gentle aniseed/licorice taste, and they are excellent for all dosha. Here I go again, but it's true, they are very good for digestion. Fennel is calming and can be made into a tea for bloating and gas. Fennel has a gentle laxative effect. It is cooling and sweet, and one of my favourite flavours.
You can dry roast fennel seeds with sunflower seeds for a delicious snack, or chew them on their own as a mouth freshener. My all time favourite fennel dish (I'm serving it at my wedding) is fry a few teaspoons of fennel seeds in ghee, then add a grated carrot. Cook covered on a low heat, stirring often. You may need to add a tablespoon of water now and then to stop it sticking.
Fennel seeds should be avoided in the early stages of pregnancy, or if there are any concerns about the pregnancy. However they are excellent post-partum for lactation.