An aromatic relative of dill weed, fennel has been used for millennia as a menopause treatment, breast milk stimulant and labor augmenter, according to the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology." Today, this sweet-tasting plant maintains its reputation as an all-purpose women's tonic. Among the many other uses associated with this versatile plant, fennel may help to enhance the size and shape of breasts in adult women. Mayo Clinic physician Sandhya Pruthi notes that no clinical trials have confirmed the safety or efficacy of herbal breast-enhancing products. However, some women may choose to use fennel as a short-term supplement to increase breast size.
Like many other medicinal herbs, fennel contains compounds that influence estrogen levels within the human body. A 1980 study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" confirmed that three core compounds, anethole, dianethole and photoanethole, are responsible for fennel's estrogenic actions. The U.S. National Institutes of Health link licorice, another source of these compounds, to increased levels of prolactin--a hormone involved in breast milk production. Foods and supplements containing fennel may increase breast size by simulating the hormonal conditions associated with lactation.
Renowned lactation expert Kelly Bonyata recommends fennel as a galactagogue, or breast milk stimulant. Bonyata attributes fennel's breast-enhancing properties to its excellent nutritional profile. Fennel is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, flavonoid antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Experts like Dr. Sandhya Pruthi have expressed concern regarding the safety of fennel and other phytoestrogen herbs because in theory, they may increase a person's risk of developing breast cancer. However, preliminary studies have suggested that fennel may actually help to fight some forms of cancer. A 2004 study published in the French journal "Pathologie Biologie" confirmed that anethole helps to protect genes from damage caused by certain medications. Additionally, a December 2009 study at the University of Texas suggested that anethole in licorice helps to fight tumors in rodents. These findings are encouraging, but not conclusive.