Health Benefits of Fennel Tea

In the Middle Ages, on Midsummer’s night, people hung fennel over doorways to protect the household from evil spirits.

Although it is no longer used as a protective decoration, fennel is still one of the more widely used medicinal plants, being suggested for everything from colic to conjunctivitis.

The benefits of fennel tea are both culinary and curative. Fennel is used in many different cuisines, from Indian to Italian, to contemporary fusion, and all parts of the plant are used, including the leaves, seeds, and bulb.

Fast facts on fennel:

  • The Latin name for fennel is foeniculum vulgare.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans thought fennel could bring strength and fortitude and lead to longer life.
  • The benefits of fennel tea are very similar to those derived from fennel seeds.

What is fennel?

Fennel tea in clear mug, with fennel seed in a bowl and wooden spoon, and a caraway flower,
Fennel tea has long been enjoyed for its flavor, though many choose to drink it for its purported health benefits.

Native to the Mediterranean region, fennel is now found all over the world, and its uses are as numerous as the places in which it grows.

Flavorful and fragrant, fennel is used in the following ways:

  • as a spice
  • eaten raw
  • dried
  • braised
  • grilled
  • shaved
  • stewed

It has a distinctive licorice-like flavor and is used in salads, sausages, ice cream, cookies, alcoholic beverages, pasta dishes, and more.

The history of fennel

Emperor Charlemagne was so taken with fennel that he brought the flowering plant to Europe and grew it on his estates.

Through the ages, many health claims have been made for fennel, and drinking fennel tea is an established practice in traditional medicine throughout the world.

Although Western science has not verified all these benefits, humans have used fennel to:

  • relieve flatulence
  • encourage urination
  • boost metabolism
  • treat hypertension
  • improve eyesight
  • prevent glaucoma
  • regulate appetite
  • clear mucus from the airways
  • stimulate milk production in nursing women
  • speed digestion
  • reduce gas
  • reduce stress
  • detoxify the body

Health benefits

Fennel seeds in a tea strainer over a mug of herbal tea.
Fennel tea may aid healthy digestion, and treat bloating, gas, or cramps, and may also act as a diuretic.

According to herbalists, fennel seed is an effective aid to digestion. It can help the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal system relax and reduce gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.

In fact, tinctures or teas made from fennel seeds can be used to treat stomach muscle spasms caused by irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system.

Fennel may also be used in combination with other herbal remedies to modify the side effects of herbal formulas used as laxatives, or other treatments for digestive problems.

1. Painful periods

Painful periods or dysmenorrhoea are a common problem for many women, who often use over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat the pain.

However, roughly 10-20 percent of women who suffer from severe cramping and discomfort during their period do not find relief through this approach.

Many turn to alternative or complementary treatments instead, and a 2012 study suggested that fennel can be helpful in this regard.

Researchers speculate that fennel helps keep the uterus from contracting, which is what prompts the pain reported by women with dysmenorrhea.

2. Colic

One of the significant benefits of fennel is its anti-spasmodic qualities. Because of this, some people believe that fennel tea may also play a role in reducing the symptoms of colic in infants.

3. Regulating blood sugar

Many herbalists and complementary healthcare practitioners recommend fennel tea as a way to regulate blood sugar.

study in Bangladesh, in which mice were treated with an extract made from mentholated fennel seeds, found that, at some dosage levels, this extract reduced blood glucose levels at a rate comparable to that of standard antihyperglycemic medications.

4. Pain relief

Fennel is also considered helpful for pain relief. The same study from Bangladesh found that fennel extract reduced indications of pain at a level close to that provided by aspirin.

5. Hydration

Staying well hydrated is important for overall health, so one of the more direct benefits of fennel tea is that it provides individuals with a tasty, caffeine-free beverage.

Fennel tea or fennel extract?

Extract of fennel seeds is not the same thing as fennel tea. Fennel tea is less processed and more likely to be pure; and the measurable, beneficial impacts of fennel tea suggest multiple reasons for drinking it. The U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) do not monitor supplements and extracts of herbs.

Also, some people simply find fennel tea delicious.

Studies on fennel benefits

Fennel on a wooden table, with a small bottle of fennel oil and some seed in a larger jar.
The essential oils derived from fennel seeds have a range of potentially beneficial properties.

Although most of the health claims made for fennel and fennel tea are based on traditional medicine, some scientific, medical studies have identified specific drug-like qualities of the plant, particularly its essential oils, which may promote health.

Studies have found that fennel tea benefits linked to fennel’s essential oils include:

  • reducing the formation of blood clots
  • increasing milk secretion and supporting the female reproductive system
  • acting as an antioxidant
  • antibacterial effects
  • antifungal activity
  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • anti-diabetic
  • controlling dust mites

Researchers found that ground fennel seeds in solution were effective against bacteria that cause indigestion, diarrhea, and dysentery, as well as some hospital-acquired infections.

According to one study, fennel was effective at collecting free radicals, which cause disease. This suggested fennel extracts could be used to help individuals ward off the effects of many chronic diseases and dangerous health conditions, including cancer, hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis, and inflammation.

While even the most committed natural care providers are not claiming that drinking a cup of fennel tea could be like taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth, this research suggests that the compounds found in fennel could help buffer the effects of ageing.

Who should avoid fennel tea?

Fennel is considered fairly mild, although some people may be allergic to it. It is also possible to overdose on the extracted oils found in fennel.

Some studies have found that fennel has an estrogenic effect, which means that it mimics the effects of estrogen. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink fennel tea. People with cancers that are sensitive to estrogen should also avoid the use of fennel.

Estragole, a key element in fennel, has been identified as a potential carcinogen, so individuals with cancer, or at a high-risk for the disease, are urged to limit their use of fennel tea, or avoid it altogether.

 

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Fennel Tea Medicinal Benefits

Today, fennel tea is perhaps best known for its antispasmodic and anti-cramping properties. In addition, it stimulates the appetite, promotes good digestion and is an excellent remedy for gas.

Since fennel tea is so safe and gentle, the sweet flavor can be mixed into food or even put into baby’s bottle for the relief of colic and a child’s tummy ache.

Fennel is native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows wild in fields and on hillsides. One of the oldest plants used in herbal medicine (in ancient China fennel was valued as a cure for visual ailments), it is now cultivated for medicinal purposes in many parts of the world, including United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Between July and September, the plant grows large, golden-yellow flower clusters, which produce the new fennel seeds. When the flowers are mature, the seeds are harvested and dried and can then be brushed and brewed to produce a highly potent medicinal tea.

fennel-seedsFennel seeds contain an essential oil with the important active ingredients anethole, fenchone and estragole. The tea, made from the crushed fennel seeds, acts as an expectorant. In the digestive tract, fennel tea removes toxins and inhibits excessive intestinal fermentation, thereby reducing gas. To reduce inflammation or swelling around the eyes, apply compresses soaked in this herbal tea.

Fennel tea is helpful for the relief of bloating and flatulence. The so-called “Four-Winds” tea blend, which contains equal parts fennel, anise, caraway and coriander seeds, has proved especially useful for this purpose. All four of these herbs have similar therapeutic properties and uses.

Medicinal Fennel Tea – Severe Respiratory Relief

Due to its mucus-dissolving properties, fennel tea is often used as an expectorant for the treatment of a whopping cough, asthma, bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections. It can also be used as a gargle for a sore throat.

Fennel Tea Recipe & Dosage for Adults, Children & Infants

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of freshly crushed fennel seeds. Allow this mixture to steep on a hot stove for 5-10 minutes, but do not allow it to boil again. Drink this tea for the relief of digestive complaints. The recommended dose is 1 cup of tea 3 times a day, between meals. Three to six weeks of this daily fennel-tea-regimen usually bring relief. Children older than 5 years of age should take only half of this amount; infants should be given one-eighth of the adult dose.

Folk Remedy to Relieve Gastrointestinal Complaints

This medicinal folk remedy relieves abdominal pain, cramping and other types of gastrointestinal spasm: Heat 1 tablespoon of crushed fennel seeds and 1 cup of whole milk until the mixture boils. Strain and slowly sip the hot liquid.

Relief for Bronchitis & Coughs

  • 1 ½ ounce fennel seeds
  • 1-ounce dandelion leaves
  • 1-ounce mullein flowers

Use 1-2 teaspoons of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep the mixture for 10 minutes and strain. Sweeten the tea with 1 teaspoon of honey to enhance its expectorant effect and relieve a cough quickly. Never use raw honey for infants.

Asthma and Whooping Cough Relief

  • 1-ounce fennel seeds
  • 1-ounce anise seeds
  • 2/3 ounce marshmallow root
  • 2/3 ounce thyme

Use 1-2 teaspoons of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes and strain. Sip at least 3 cups of the tea daily to relax the airways and relieve spasms.

Flatulence Relief in Adults & Colic in Infants

  • 1 ½ ounce fennel seeds
  • 1-ounce caraway seeds
  • 1-ounce anise seeds

Use 1-2 teaspoons of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes and strain. Sweeten with honey if desired, unless the tea is to be given to an infant. Never use raw honey in infants!

Relieve Digestive Complaints in Infants & Children

Fennel tea’s sweet flavor and antispasmodic effect make it a good choice for children with stomach upset. In infants with colic, a few tablespoons of fennel tea bring fast relief: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes and strain. The tea is also helpful to older children with abdominal pain and flatulence. You can make fennel tea with milk instead of water or use the tea to thin whole milk or pureed foods.

Folk Medicine to Promote Lactation

In folk medicine, fennel tea is commonly used to increase milk flow in nursing mothers. To make the tea, use 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes and strain. Drink at least 3 cups of the tea each day. The infusion may also relieve breast infections or nipple soreness. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm herbal tea and apply it to the affected area of the skin.

Home Remedy for Eye Infections

Bring ½ cup of water and 2 teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool then strain. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm tea, cover your eyes with it and leave it on for 15 minutes. Or, use the tea as a medicinal eyewash.