In the world of herbal remedies and natural aids for digestion, the tiny seeds of fennel stand out as a star performer. With their sweet licorice-like flavor, fennel is used across many cultures not just because it’s a culinary delight, but also for its healing power. Fennel has also been shown to help with digestion by reducing inflammation in the bowels and decreasing bacteria that cause gassiness.
Let’s explore the digestive power of fennel seeds in today’s blog.
Getting know fennel
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, originates from the Mediterranean region but is cultivated in many warm weather regions in Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is a minor crop in the US.
Almost all of the fennel plant is edible, but every culture has a favorite way of using it. Some cultures use the fennel seeds or powder of the fennel seeds as a culinary spice, while some eat the bulb. In either case, the anise-like flavor of fennel is a delight! In Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese Traditional Medicine, fennel is recognized way beyond culinary appeal, as a natural remedy for digestion.
Fennel seeds as a digestive wonder herb
Fennel seeds are rich in essential oils, including anethole, which gives fennel its distinct taste and many of its health benefits. The seeds have been used for centuries in various traditional medicine systems, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, for their digestive and therapeutic properties.
According to Ayurveda (a holistic science), fennel is one of the rare cooling herbs that improves ‘agni’, the digestive fire, without imbalancing pitta, the fire element.
To name a few ways in which fennel seeds can help with digestion:
- Bloating and gas: Fennel is well known for its ability to soothe bloating and gas. The compounds in fennel seeds relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, making it easier for trapped gas to be expelled.
- Acidity or acid reflux: Fennel seeds can help reduce stomach acidity and calm the burning sensation associated with acid reflux.
- Nausea: Sipping on fennel tea or chewing fennel seeds can help quell queasiness.
- Mental digestion: This might be an interesting one, but we do need to break down information and data into ideas. Fennel seeds’ cooling quality, calms the mind and brings clarity, enabling you to think better.
Are you wondering how to incorporate fennel seeds into your daily life? There are many ways. Let’s talk about a few easy ones here.
Recipes with fennel seeds
This recipe of fennel tea works well to support digestion. It comes in handy when a large bowl of kale salad makes you feel bloated or had a big brunch with friends. With Thanksgiving and Holiday season coming up, you’ll thank me for this one.
Simply combine 1-2 teaspoons of fennel seeds and 10 oz of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, simmer it for 5 odd minutes and strain it out in a cup.
Pro tip: The trio seeds tea made with Cumin, Coriander and Fennel aka CCF tea is a massive upgrade to just fennel tea.
Fennel seeds and rock sugar mix
This recipe is for daredevils who love hot spices but cannot handle the acidity. It is also for the ones who’ve had a rough day and are feeling frustrated (a hot emotion). It’s also great as a cooling beverage for summer afternoons.
Grind some fennel seeds and rock sugar in a spice grinder and keep a small jar full in your pantry. Mix in 2-3 teaspoons of it in a glass of water and sip on it.
Fennel powder does not dissolve in the water (unlike rock sugar), but you can chew it well and eat it.
Digestive chewing spices
Chewing on fennel seeds after a meal not only aids digestion but also freshens your breath. This is a common practice in India. Fill up a small jar and keep it in your pantry or office drawer for easy access.
You can chew on about a teaspoon of raw fennel seeds after meals. I like to make it more interesting. Here are a few ways you can do it too:
- Heat a pan, add 5 tablespoons of fennel seeds to it when it is on medium flame. After a minute or two, lower the flame and let it roast for another 5-6 minutes. Let the fennel seeds cool down. Add another 5 tablespoons of raw fennel seeds to it. Your mixture is ready.
- If you have a sweet tooth or tend to have hot spicy meals, add 2 tablespoons of crushed rock sugar to the above-mentioned mixture described at #i.
- If you tend to feel bloated often, add a tablespoon of Indian celery seeds (called ‘ajwain’) when you are roasting the 5 tablespoons of fennel seeds and follow the rest of the recipe.
Safety considerations and potential side effects
Fennel is generally considered safe for most individuals when consumed in moderation. Steer away if you are allergic, of course!
If you are taking medications, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant, consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating fennel into your routine.
Fennel seeds are a versatile spice with many digestive benefits. Whether sipping on a cuppa of fennel tea, using it in your culinary creations, or just chewing them straight up, fennel seeds can bring calmness to your digestive system and mind. Fennel seeds indeed can be a valuable addition to your healthy food habits. It sure has been an important part of my personal pantry and herbal teas by AyurSome Foods.