Mainly found on seashores and riverbeds, fennel plant belongs to the “celery family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae” (Wikipedia). While native to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, this is a popular plant that now grows now many parts of the world. With its yellow flowers and feathery leaves, this plant makes a beautiful addition to any bouquet. While used as a spice for many culinary dishes, there are many medicinal uses for fennel since the roots, stalks, leaves and seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals. With fewer side effects, it is safer to try fennel than over-the-counter and prescription medications. Not only that, you will be saving money since you will spending less money to treat you health ailments and conditions.
Fennel is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium and manganese which are all needed to keep our blood pressure numbers at a safe level. When we do not have enough of these in our daily diets, we run the risk of getting high blood pressure. When you keep your blood pressure lower you run a less risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. The American Heart Association states that food that contains high fiber content plays a key role in reducing blood pressure. That is one more reason to keep fennel in your spice rack, since it is a major source of fiber.
While fennel is good for your heart in that it lowers blood pressure, it also reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in your body. By including this spice in your daily diet, you will reduce the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke because your arteries will not get clogged up with fatty buildup. Fennel is a major source of calcium, which also plays a major role in lowering cholesterol.
Our bodies need folic acid in order to have healthy cells. Fennel is high in folic acid which protects our healthy cells from the damaged ones.
Fennel contains an amino acid known as histidine. This amino acid helps increase the amount of iron in the blood and helps stimulate the production of the red blood cells in the body. An anemic person will benefit by including fennel in their daily diet. Not only does this spice increase the number of red blood cells and make them stronger, it improves the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the entire circulation system. Fennel also increases the number of palettes in the blood. These play a role in forming together to stop a cut from bleeding.
Fennel boosts the immune system because the histidine also helps increase the number of white blood cells in our body. Including fennel in your daily diet gives your body overall health. Since this plant is also a major source of Vitamin C, you are doubling the health of your immune system. If you have a cold or the flu, fight the symptoms by having some fennel. You can even prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place by including fennel in your daily diet.
Fennel is an excellent way to aid to your digestive system. Its aspartic acids and phytoestrogens, help relieve symptoms of indigestion such as:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Fennel is an excellent decongestant and expectorant because it contains two compounds known as anetol and cineole which help remove fluids from the lungs and bronchial passages. Fennel is excellent in treating respiratory conditions such as:
Fennel contains anti-toxin benefits and is an excellent way of removing toxins from your body. This spice also contains diuretic properties. It is very effective in treating and preventing urinary tract infections, kidney infections and stones. Make a liver cleansing tea by adding a teaspoon of fennel to a cup of hot water. Allow it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes before drinking it.
If you are a woman who has rough menstrual cycles or are going through menopause, include fennel in your diet. For menstrual cycles fennel plays a role in reducing cramping and water retention and also helps regulate the cycles. It also plays a role in controlling hormonal imbalances in menopausal woman as well as relieving symptoms such as hot flashes.
The essential oil of fennel contains two compounds called anethole and methyl chavicol which contain strong anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties. These prevent cuts, burns, scrapes, bee stings and mosquito bites from getting infected. You can also use it to treat skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and cold sores.
Fennel seeds can be found in the spice aisle in most grocery stores. Ranging in color from a tan brown to a light green, these small curved seeds have a scent similar to licorice. As a matter of fact, if you love the taste of licorice, you will love the taste of fennel seed.
There are many benefits to fennel seed. Just like the spice, the seed helps relieves many ailments and complaints including:
Relaxes muscles and aids with sleep disorders
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Fennel seed is something to keep on your shelf if your are trying to lose weight. The early Christians used them when they went for long periods of time when they were fasting. It was said the Roman soldiers ate them when they marched for hours without any food. Chewing on the seeds will help curb your appetite and cravings. Since they contain diuretic properties, the seeds will help you get rid of extra water. Plus it helps speed up amount of time the liver takes to metabolize fats and sugars.
Chewing on fennel seeds help support optimal health of your intestines. While we might like all sorts of foods, some of the food does not agree with us. The food may to greasy, spicy or rich. Even though it may taste delicious, many times we have stomach cramps, have gas, feel bloated, have acid reflux or have heartburn. Do you have bad breath and it seems that no matter how many times you brush, floss and use mouthwash, the bad breath just does not want to go away? That is because many times bad breath comes from within your body. If you have poor intestinal health, the food in your body is not being digested the way it should be. That is the cause of bad breath in a majority of cases. Chew on fennel seed or drink a cup of tea that has fennel in it after you eat to improve your digestion. It not only will reduce the chances of getting indigestion, the seeds will help produce more bile so the food will be digested properly.
If you prefer to drink a tea with fennel seed, mix a half a teaspoon of fennel seed in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and allow it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink two to three cups of this per day.
Fennel seed is a natural pain reliever because of its anti-inflammatory properties. People who suffer from headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, toothaches, arthritic pain, sprains and joint and muscle pain can find immediate relief either when chewing on a teaspoon of the seeds. It is even effective in relieving pain after an individual has an operation. Next time you suffer from arthritis pain or have sore muscles after a day at the gym, chewing on fennel seed helps make the pain go away.
Fennel seeds are full of anti-oxidants. We need these to protect our healthy cells from being attacked by the free radicals-the damaged cells. The anti-oxidants found in fennel seed especially help repair the cells that are damaged in our livers. For a good liver repairing tea crush a tablespoon each of dandelion roots and fennel leaves and add a dash of powdered ginger root. Put it in a tea ball or strainer and put it in a cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes.
It is good to clean you digestive system and liver from its toxins. Try this tea the next time you want to detox: add a tablespoon each of fennel seed and peppermint and a teaspoon of ground ginger to a tea ball or strainer. Allow it to steep in a cup of boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink it approximately a half an hour before eating.
If you have conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, or just have itchy eyes due to allergies, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep until the water is cool at least to lukewarm. Soak a cotton ball in the water and apply it to your eyes.
Where to Purchase Fennel Products
While you can go to your local grocery store and find fennel and fennel seed in the spice aisle, you can easily grow it in your backyard and use all parts of the plant for cooking and medicinal uses. However, if you do not have the time to grow your own fennel, you can purchase a wide range of products containing fennel from your local health food store. Some of these products include:
You can also look online at sites such as Ebay and Amazon.
If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid using fennel.
Do not give fennel to young children.
Fennel may counter-react with other herbs and spices if taken together. Some to avoid when you take fennel include:
Always talk to a qualified herbalist to see what other herbs and spices to avoid.
Only use fennel essential oil to treat external conditions. Do not consume it since it will be dangerous to do so. Since this essential oil is potent it is best to mix it with a carrier oil such as an unscented lotion and use it only as needed.
Do not take more than the recommended daily dosage. If you are unsure of how much to take, talk to your doctor for advice. It actually is recommended that you talk to your doctor anyway if you are planning on starting your own herbal remedies since some herbs may counter-react with medications and supplements that you may already be taking.