If you have tried Indian cuisine then you will be aware of the significance of Fennel seeds. It is religiously used in Indian kitchens and other traditional cuisines across a variety of recipes, passed on from generations. Fennel, the herb, belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. The vitamin C found in the fennel bulb has antimicrobial properties and is vital in the functioning of our immune system.
Qualities Of Fennel
The ancient Indian Science of Ayurveda has well documented records of the medicinal qualities (Guna in Sanskrit) of this versatile herb. Ayurveda has long adopted Fennel for:
- Laghu (light to digest).
- Snigdha (unctuous, oily).
- Rasa (taste) – Madhura (sweet), Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter).
- Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – Madhura (sweet).
- Virya (potency) – Sheeta (cool) great coolant in summer.
- Effects on doshas: Balances Vata and Kapha and cools Pitta.
Fennel – The Nutritious Versatile Vegetable
In many European nations, especially in France and Italy fennel plays an important role in topical cuisine. Fennel’s history dates back to the earliest times and is mentioned in many texts and mythological traditions of world’s cultures. Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution to our popular Mediterranean cuisine. Most often associated with Italian cooking, be sure to add fennel in your recipes and to your list of fresh vegetables, from the autumn through early spring when it is readily available and at its best. It has its unique place in the section of leafy greens.
I have always been fascinated how fennel got its looks. Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb like white onions from which seems like superimposed stalks are glued, looking like it was cloned with celery and some fresh thin leaves sprinkled on top to make it look lean. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. Ultimately it has the entire look to bring into your kitchen and experiment.
The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible; meaning it is versatile with many uses. Fennel’s aromatic taste is unique, strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise, so much so that fennel is often mistakenly referred to as anise in the marketplace. Fennel has similar texture to that of celery, a crunchy and striated texture. Mediterranean cuisine and those cultures have long used it for culinary and medicinal reasons. It has not been spread and naturalized as an herb around the world, but still primarily grows in coastal climates and on riverbanks. It is proudly used as one of the main components of the alcohol absinthe, although the plant does not prove of any hallucinogenic properties.
The scientific name for fennel is Foeniculumvulgare. Fennel claims to be an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and folate. In addition, fennel is a good source of calcium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, iron, and niacin.
Fennel For Healthy Digestive And Respiratory Tracts
- Fennel can be used to clear phlegm and is great for coughs. It also calms the dry, hacking cough, of bronchitis. Fennel oil can be used as a gargle for sore throat and hoarseness.
- It is very effective in relaxing muscle spasms. Fennel relives spasms in the lungs for people suffering from bronchitis.
- It is a great replacement to chewing gum and breath fresheners. If you are considering to get rid of all kinds of refined and additive sugar but still want a mouth freshener saunf (fennel seeds) can be best alternative.
- If taken before a meal, fennel stimulates hunger and increases agni (fire) for digestion and harmonizes the stomach. For all my friends silently struggling with acidity, a spoon of fennel seeds chewed before and after meal relieves acid reflux.
- Fennel is known to relieve bloating and reduces yucky burping. Great after a heavy meal and could be your best friend on a date.
- Along with seeds, boiling leaves of fennel and drinking it warm helps heal and energize feverish and tired symptoms.
- Fennel seeds contain phytoestrogens and phytonutrients such as flavonoids, carotenoids, camphene, and anethole. These provide powerful anti-oxidation benefits.
- To promote healthy bowel movements, chew 1 tsp of roasted fennel seeds after meals.
- Fennel seeds in powdered form act as a laxative. The roughage helps clear the bowels, its stimulating effect maintains the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines, thereby helping promote proper excretion through the stimulation of gastric juices and bile production. Fennel is also commonly found in medicines that treat abdominal pain, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and other intestinal issues.
- Fennel has anti-acidic and anti-spasmodic properties as well so it can give great relief to intestinal spasms or cramps.
Fennel’s Detoxification Secrets
- It turns food into energy instead of fat. It regulates the tongue sensors for better taste and experience of flavors.
- It acts like a cleaning agent for your tongue to enjoy your meal.
- Fennel aids in weight loss. Drinking a cup of fennel seed tea 15 minutes before eating a heavy meal reduces appetite. The leaves, seeds and roots are much used in drink or broth to make people lean and reduce unwanted accumulated fat.
- According to Chinese medicine it soothes liver and is great to use as a tea if you are on a liver detox.
- Fennel seeds act as an insoluble dietary fiber; it is a great friend to food consumed. It is an excellent companion throughout the digestion process. Fennel seeds absorb excess water during digestion thus eliminating any chances of constipation. It binds with bile in liver almost curbing the re-absorption of cholesterol in the colon, helping in lowering the LDL. It also removes toxins and other malfunctioned cells from the intestines.
Fennel Improves Vision
According to the Ancient Romans, fennel was called the“herb of sight”. Fennel root extracts were often used in tonics to clear cloudy eyes of cataracts and glaucoma. Fennel seeds soaked in water over night can be used in washing eyes to bring relief to itchy and burning eyes during allergy season.The fennel tea traditionally made for a good eye wash. After you take off your contact lens, if your redness is persistent, splash fennel soaked water to cool and relieve those itchy eyes.
Fennel For All Ages
- According to the Greeks, in the 3rd Century B.C., Hippocrates prescribed fennel to treat infant colic. Pedanius Dioscorides, a Roman physician who was author of De Materia Medica- an encyclopedia about herbal medicine, called it an appetite suppressant and recommended the seeds to nursing mothers due to its diaphoretic properties that increase the flow of milk. Apparently fennel increases the growth of breast tissue due to its estrogenic nature. It aids in reducing and accommodating breast soreness a mother may experience due to an irregular feeding schedule.
- Gastro Intestinal tracts and uterine cramps can be relieved by using Fennel. Fennel is a diuretic, which means that it increases the amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping the removal of toxic substances from the body and thus helping in rheumatism and swelling.
- As a diuretic it relieves Pitta. It flushes and soothes any burning sensations in the urinary tract and it’s a great blood detoxifying agent. It works well on inflammations on the skin for teenagers.
- Extracts of fennel have estrogenic properties that may benefit woman going through the hormonal imbalances caused by menopause. Fennel is an Emenagogue because it eases and regulates menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. Fennel is used in a number of products to reduce the effects of PMS, and it is also used traditionally as a soothing pain reliever and relaxing agent for menopausal women. It has balancing effects on the female reproductive system. Soup made of fennel is helpful in treating menstrual cramps.
- Fennel seeds chewing can be used to overcome tobacco addiction.
- Fennel oil can be used in massages as essential oil.
- It helps alleviate nausea, especially with motion sickness in kids.
- It’s calming properties increases mental clarity.
- It has a history of reducing swelling and pain and regulates blood circulation
- Consuming a spoon full of fennel seeds twice a day purifies blood and aids in better circulation.
- Fennel is a very rich source of potassium, which is an essential nutrient in our bodies. One of the attributes of potassium in our diet is its quality as a vasodilator whereit relaxes the tension of blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure is connected to a wide range of health issues, including heart attack, stroke, and artherosclerosis. Also, for diabetic patients, blood pressure issues can make management of their insulin and glucose levels very difficult. A cup of fennel bulb in your daily diet will give you an ample amount of potassium and all the benefits that come along with it.
- It strengthens hair, prevents hair loss, relaxes the body, sharpens memory and has a marvelous cooling effect in summer. This can be achieved with the pale, greenish-yellow water, in which it fennel is soaked and consumed.
- Due to its natural edibility of all parts, fennel is best known as a culinary herb. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery; the seeds add a flavor to fish and other dishes.
- It is an ingredient of the official compound powder of liquorice.
- Tender fennel leaves can be used to garnish; make fresh tea, it addsflavor to salads, and are also added, finely chopped, to sauces served with puddings. Roman and Italian bakers use the herb under their loaves in the oven to make the bread tasty.
- For gas, make a mixture of equal parts of roasted fennel, cumin, & celery seeds. Chew ½ – 1 tsp of this mixture after meals and then swallow with a cup of warm water.
- The seeds are mainly used as a flavoring agent in medicines; fennel has a good reputation in healing insect bites or food poisoning.
- Fennel is also largely used in barns.It is one of the plants which are disliked by fleas.Powdered Fennel is an effective and natural way of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.
- Due to its fragrant smell, it is commonly used in toothpastes, breath fresheners, and antacids.
The substance Anethole in fennel seeds reduces inflammation and prevents growth of cancer cells.These compounds which kill bacteria and microbes in low doses but they can be harmful if ingested in larger doses. Anything is harmful if used in excess. Certain components of the fennel, especially Anethole, and a few chemicals present in the plant itself, besides being beneficial, can be dangerous if ingested in too large of a quantity. Excess use of fennel can cause difficulty breathing, increased palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and various neural problems. In Ayurveda moderation is the key to remedy.
Recipe For Super Healing CCF Tea (Coriander Cumin Fennel Tea)
This is one of simplest tea for burning up excess mucus especially during spring when the external snow is melting and flooding the rivers, our internal snow floods our lymphs and causes running nose, digestive mucus, sinus swelling puffiness and water retention.
This tridoshic tea revitalizes and works in warming our body up, clearing water retention, and flushing and cleansing our urinary tract. A great help in reducing water weight.
When unending winter sluggishness abounds us, this tea strokes our digestive fire. Its mild bitterness helps in spring detoxification and purifies blood. Fennel is an easy kitchen herb that helps in increased clarity to swollen spring tissues and reducing any inflammation. It gently soothes and brings calmness to our tense and over active minds.
Ayurvedic teas consist of a single herb or blend of herbs steeped in hot water.
- ½ tsp Cumin
- ½ tsp Coriander seeds
- ½ tsp Fennel seeds
- Boil 1 & 1/2 cups of water.
- Add the whole cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds.
- Let it steep for 8 minutes or until it cools to a comfortable drinking temperature.
- Strain and discard the spices and serve.