What are the Benefits of Fennel?
Fennel is a light-green, seed-like aromatic herb. It is also often known as Florence fennel, finocchio, or sweet anise. While it can be used for culinary purposes, it has a number of properties that make it an excellent herbal remedy for many health problems.
Studies have found that fennel has wonderful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, carminative, decongestant, and antispasmodic properties. The seeds and fresh fennel contain a variety of vitamins such as C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, as well as many healthy minerals like phytoestrogens, and phytonutrients such as flavonoids, caretenoids, fenchone, camphene, and anethole. These elements allow Fennel to be used to treat flatulence, bloating, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hypertension, low milk production in nursing women, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), hormonal imbalance, low libido, bruises, bad breath, colic in babies, eyesight decline, sinus congestion, and chronic coughs.
Uses of Fennel
Bad breath or Halitosis or bad breath is often caused by digestive disorders. Fennel seeds are an excellent natural remedy for bad breath since the seeds can help resolve these digestive problem as well as provide a fresh aromatic scent.
- Chew one to one-and-a-half teaspoons of fennel seeds throughout the day.
- A warm fennel tea can be used as a mouthwash to diminish bad breath.
Cold, Flu, and Sinus Disorders
A few studies suggest that fresh Fennel and Fennel seeds may help with sinus congestion, chronic coughs, and flu symptoms. Simply drinking fennel tea 2-3 times a day may help relieve the symptoms. See the recipe for Fennel Tea below. Also drinking some chicken soup with fresh fennel may help.
Boil 1 liter of water in a pot and add 4-5 teaspoons of fennel seeds. Lean over the pot and inhale the vapours by covering your head with a towel or a large cloth.
Gargle warm Fennel tea 2-3 times daily and before going to sleep at night.
Cough and Flu Symptoms
Make Fennel tea by boiling one teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of water for about 5 minutes. Add honey to sweeten and drink this tea three times daily.
Colic in Babies
Colic is a condition that affects babies, and it is characterized by prolonged and uncontrollable crying. While the actual cause of colic is not always known, one common theory is that it may be caused by digestive problems including intestinal spasms or cramping. If this is the case, Fennel can be used to help relieve these symptoms. A simple solution is to make Fennel water or Fennel syrup and store it in the refrigerator for emergencies.
Boil one teaspoon of Fennel seeds in a cup of water for 5 minutes. Add half a teaspoon of sugar. Let the mixture cool down, and then strain out the seeds. Give one teaspoon of this Fennel water to the baby three times a day or until symptoms subside.
To make Fennel Syrup, boil 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds in a cup of water. Add half a cup of sugar and boil until the mixture develops the consistency of syrup. Give a few drops of this Fennel syrup to the baby once or twice daily until symptoms subside. You may refrigerate this syrup in an airtight container for future use.
Menstrual and Menopausal Problems
The antispasmodic, phytoestrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties of Fennel may soothe the muscles in the uterus, which can help relieve the cramping and discomfort associated with PMS and menstruation. Fennel can also help ease hot flashes and other menopausal problems by balancing the estrogen levels in the body. Therefore, a simple remedy for menstrual cramps, PMS, and symptoms of menopause is to make a Fennel tea as follows:
- Boil a cup of water.
- Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the boiling water.
- Leave the mixture on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Using a strainer, pour the tea into a mug.
- Add honey as an optional sweetener.
For relief of menopausal symptoms, drink this tea twice daily. For menstrual cramps, start drinking this Fennel tea three days before the expected period and continue drinking it until symptoms subside.
Stomach Problems (Flatulence, Bloating, Indigestion)
Clinical studies have shown that anethole, fenchone and the antioxidant properties of fennel help in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. For flatulence, bloating, indigestion and intestinal spasm and cramping, chewing on a small amount of fennel seeds or drinking Fennel tea can be helpful. Make Fennel tea by adding one teaspoon of Fennel seeds in a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add honey as a natural sweetener and drink it twice daily. Alternatively, you can chew on one to one-and-a-half teaspoon of Fennel seeds through out the day or after meals.
What are the Side Effects of Fennel?
There are not any known side effects of Fennel seeds when used moderately. An overdose of liquid Fennel seed extract or oil may cause photodermatitis, or lead to a rash and itchiness. If you notice any unusual skin changes, stop using Fennel seeds and contact your doctor. Due to its phytoestrogenic properties, Fennel is not recommended for pregnant women.
Where and How to Buy Fennel
Fennel is available in seeds, capsules, liquid extract, oil and tincture form at many health food stores. Fennel seeds can be bought at most Indian/Pakistani grocery stores. When buying fennel seeds look for those which are light green in color.