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Sweet aromatic fennel is a flavorful herb that gives your meals a delicious taste. It’s also full of health benefits and natural medicinal uses.
If you have ever dined at an East Indian restaurant, you may have noticed the dish of colorful seeds ready to be eaten on the way out. These tiny seeds are fennel. Millions of individuals in India chew on fennel after meals in the same way many cultures use mints. The most common way to use fennel seeds is to help with digestion, but there are several others.
1. Helps Digestion
Fennel seeds stimulate digestion while having calming effects. This makes it very good for soothing the digestive system and keeping nausea at bay. Chewing a teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals or drinking fennel seed tea helps with digestion, stomach pains and bloating. For more extreme nausea its best used ground up in capsules with ginger, as they work together well.
For the ginger and fennel, do not exceed dosage recommendations. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing or taking any medication.
2. May Help Reduce Cancer
Fennel seed methanolic extract was found to be useful as an anticancer agent in a study. They found that fennel seed methanolic extract may have notable anticancer potential against a breast cancer and liver cancer.
3. Reduces Excess Hair Growth
4. Menstrual Discomfort Reduced
At the Islamic Azad University in Toyserkan, a study was performed with 80 female students and the results showed fennel to help reduce menstrual discomfort and duration.
5. Menopause Symptoms Reduced
Extracts of fennel have estrogen properties that help balance the female reproductive system. The hormonal imbalance caused by menopause has been shown in to be reduced with consumption of fennel seed extract.
6. Decreases Colic in Babies
Fennel seed oil decreased intensity of colic in babies. In one study it was able to eliminate colic in 40 of 62 infants in its treatment group. The scientists noted that the effective prescription medication for colic, Dicyclomine hydrochloride, had serious side effects, including death in 5 percent of infants treated. Fennel does not have these side effects.
Fennel Seed Nutrition
- Fennel seeds contain small amounts of many vitamins and even a small amount of protein.
- They are a concentrated source of minerals (copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium).
- They are full of essential oil compounds (anethole, limonene, anisic aldehyde, pinene, myrcene, fenchone, chavicol and cineole). These oils are known to have digestive, carminative and anti-flatulent properties.
Note: Best for pregnant women not to use fennel in medicinal remedies or while nursing. Small amounts as food flavoring are thought to be safe. Also, for some sensitive people it may cause contact dermatitis.
While the benefits of fennel are certainly interesting enough, it also has an interesting history. From the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine:
- Fennel is native to the Mediterranean. It’s called "marathon" in Greece, originating from the word "mariano" which means to grow thin.
- Fennel was considered a magic herb in the Middle Ages and was draped over doorways to protect from evil spirits. As an added measure of protection, the tiny seeds were stuffed into keyholes to keep ghosts from entering the room.
- Fennel came to North America with the Spanish missionaries; they grew it in their medicinal gardens. It was taken to help with digestion by the Puritans.
Fennel Seed Trivia
- Ancients believed fennel seed was particularly helpful in eyesight.
- It was considered a symbol of success in ancient Greece.
- Today, fennel seed is widely used in India as an after-dinner breath freshener and to help in the digestion process.
- Powdered fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.
Now that you have learned the many benefits of fennel, you will want to make sure you have some in your kitchen cupboard to make your meals extra yummy.
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