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Progress in Essential Oils

By: Brian M. Lawrence
Posted: January 2, 2007, from the January 2007 issue of P&F magazine.

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Fennel Oil

Ravid et al. (1992) determined that the range of fenchone content of sweet fennel oil (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce) was 2.2–5.2%, whereas in bitter fennel oil (F. vulgare var. vulgare) it was 7.2–20.4%. The authors further determined that the enantiomeric distribution of fenchone in both sweet and bitter fennel seed oil was (+)-fenchone (100%): (-)-fenchone (0%). As a result, fennel oil would make an excellent source of (+)-fenchone.

Gora et al. (1997) reported that Polish fennel seed oil contained fenchone (19.1%) and (E)-anethole (69.4%). This fenchone level indicates that the oil was produced from bitter fennel. The major constituents of bitter fennel oil produced in the laboratory by Bas¸er et al. (1997) from seeds of Uzbekistani origin were found to be:

limonene (0.78%)

gamma-terpinene (0.39%)

fenchone (8.03%)

methyl chavicol (3.24%)

(E)-anethole (87.33%)

Aridogan et al. (2002) reported that fennel oil produced in Turkey contained the following major constituents:

alpha-pinene (0.3%)

limonene (7.7%)

1,8-cineole (1.6%)

gamma-terpinene (0.9%)

fenchone (3.3%)

methyl chavicol (3.2%)

(E)-anethole (76.4%)

anisketone (1.2%)

Yamini et al. (2002) compared the composition of an oil produced from Iranian fennel seed with a volatile concentrate of the same batch of fennel seed produced by supercritical fluid CO2 extraction (SFE). The SFE conditions used were varied for pressure (200–350 atmospheres), temperature (45°–55°C), dynamic time (30–45 min) and the use of a methanol modifier (80, 400 or 800 μL) in a few extractions. The constants were 8 mL extraction vessel volume, 2.5 g powdered fennel seed mixed with an unknown amount of inert sand, 25 min static extraction and CO2 flow rate of 0.3–0.4 mL/min. After each static extraction, the vessel was flushed with ca. 16 mL of CO2. Because a wide range of conditions were used in the 11 separate CO2 extractions, only a summary of the volatile concentrate data is presented in T-1. Brian M. Lawrence, Consultant Progress in Essential Oils Fennel Oil Ravid et al. (1992) determined that the range of fenchone content of sweet fennel oil (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce) was 2.2–5.2%, whereas in bitter fennel oil (F. vulgare var. vulgare) it was 7.2–20.4%. The authors further determined that the enantiomeric distribution of fenchone in both sweet and bitter fennel seed oil was (+)-fenchone (100%): (-)-fenchone (0%). As a result, fennel oil would make an excellent source of (+)-fenchone.

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.