The fruit of the wild fennel plant, also known as fennel seeds, have traditionally been used to treat gastro-intestinal complaints, and can soothe heartburn, bloating, flatulence, IBS and period pain. Fennel is believed to stimulate digestion, facilitate the absorption of nutrients from the food, and act as a laxative. In India, it is common practise to chew fennel seeds after a meal, to promote optimum digestion and eliminate bad breath. Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties in fennel seeds make them a useful natural remedy for the treatment of coughs and colds, and it can act as an expectorant (helping to expel mucus). Some studies have found that fennel extracts inhibit the growth of tumours, and help prevent certain strains of liver and breast cancer. A rich source of potassium, fennel may reduce high blood pressure and optimise brain function. It can also boost oestrogen production and the secretion of breastmilk during lactation, as well as balancing female hormones, regulating menstruation and alleviating PMS.