Fennel is an aromatic and flavourful herb. It is a hardy plant with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. The herb has been cultivated as both a medicinal herb and as a vegetable since ancient times. Fennel has many health benefits. It is used to treat ailments like respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, cough and diarrhoea. In India, they are often eaten after meals, as they cure indigestion and act as breath fresheners.
Botanical name – Foeniculum vulgare
Common name – Fennel
Hindi – Saunf
Tamil – Sombu
Fresh green fennel is slightly sweet. It has a pale green bulb from which stalks emerge and are topped with green leaves. It produces yellow flowers. The bulb, leaves, stem and seeds are all edible. As a home remedy it is very effective in treating many conditions. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of fibre, potassium, manganese and folate. It is also a good source of calcium, Iron and vitamin B3.
The fennel herb has a combination of phytonutrients that give it a strong anti-oxidant activity, and many health benefits. Anethole, a component of its volatile oil has shown to reduce inflammation. The volatile oil of fennel is said to protect the liver from toxic substances. Being an excellent source of vitamin C, the fennel bulb is anti microbial and helps proper functioning of the immune system. It is also a good source of fibre. This helps to remove carcinogenic toxins from the colon. It is a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower blood pressure, which is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack.
Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are harvested from the herb. They are tiny and oval and vary from pale green to light brown with stripes on the surface. In Ayurveda, fennel seeds are used to treat coughs, colds, indigestion, abdominal pain, flatulence, colic and difficulty in urinating.
Health benefits for Digestion and Bad Breath
Fennel seeds are said to be an excellent digestive aid, as it relieves abdominal cramps and gas. It is good for colic in babies. It is high in fibre and hence it can help prevent constipation and aid in the formation of bile and other digestive juices.
Health benefits for Respiratory Disorders
Fennel seeds is said to help reduce the symptoms of asthma. (How to treat Asthma with herbs) It helps to loosen congestion and helps against the hacking cough that accompanies bronchitis. This it is believed, is mostly because of the presence of lineole and anetole, constituents which are expectorant in nature.
Home remedy for Weight Loss
It is widely believed that fennel affects weight loss. Drinking a cup of fennel seed tea around 20 mins before eating, is said to take the edge of your appetite. Since it aids digestion, it also helps to turn food into energy instead of fat.
Natural remedy for Menopause and PMS
Women who are going through menopause or those who experience PMS, (More on treating PMS) can benefit from fennel as it is said to have estrogenic properties. [Patients with cancer associated with estrogen activity should not consume large amounts of fennel seeds.] It has a balancing effect on the hormone. It is also said to help regularize the menstrual cycle.
Detoxifies the Liver
Fennel is said to cleanse the liver and help detoxify the body. According to the Ayurveda, it is a diuretic and it increases the flow of urine and acts as a tonic to the kidneys.
Other Health Benefits
Fennel seed helps in ailments like rheumatism and arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory nature. It is said to increase milk flow in lactating mothers. As it is a good source of Iron, it helps in the treatment of Anemia. Due to its anti bacterial properties and disinfectant nature, it helps cure diarrhoea. It reduces inflammation in the stomach and facilitates absorption of nutrients in the food.
Home Remedies With Fennel Seeds
- Roast fennel seeds lightly, grind it and store. Having a tsp after meals is good for digestion. It is also said to ensure healthy lactation after child birth.
- Fennel herbal tea allays pain and anxiety during menstrual period. Boil a tsp of fennel in a glass of water. Cool, strain and drink with needed sugar.
- Fennel tea also helps persistent cough and difficult expectoration. It breaks up the mucus.
- Make a decocotion of fennel seeds, and have it twice a day. This helps in respiratory and gastro-intestinal fevers. (Boil about 2tbsp of fennel seeds in about one and a half cup of water and reduce it to 3/4th of a cup)
- For inflammation in the eye, infusions made from fennel seeds can be used as a cold eyewash.
- Take half a tsp each of fennel seeds, cumin seeds and granulated sugar. Grind them together and have it twice a day with water. Due to its diuretic nature and fibre content, this mixture is an effective home remedy tokeep lipids in check and is used for hypertension in pregnancies.
- For good overall kidney function, make a paste of half a tsp each of dry ginger powder, dry fennel powder with a little honey, and take it thrice a day.
- Fennel infused massage oil is a natural remedy that can be used to relieve stress.