A town in Greece where the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE took place is named Marathon. To my surprise, the Greek word “marathon” literally means “a place full of fennel” as the town was originally named so because of an abundance of fennel plants in the area.
The ancient tall herb with hollow stems, feathery leaves, and yellow flowers is believed to be an effective medicinal plant. Although originally native to the Mediterranean, Fennel tea has spread across the world known for its impressive and powerful benefits that have been medically used for centuries.
Fennel Tea – Benefits, Side Effects, And Risks!
The benefits of fennel tea are not exactly unknown to the world. Granted the fennel seeds are most likely to be forgotten among other seeds in the grocery aisle, however, people are becoming more aware of how effective the fennel seeds are in improving one’s health.
Fennel, with the Italian name of Foeniculum Vulgare and other fancy names, is a plant in the carrot, celery, and parsley family and is an aromatic herb that has been used for both culinary and curative practices(1). South Asian countries include fennel seeds as one of their distinct spices that just add to their several dishes. But, besides many of its culinary uses, what are the other benefits of fennel?
Fennel: A Step Down From Its Culinary Uses
Fennel is popularly used in different cuisines, from Italian to Indian, to add a distinct, pleasant flavor. All parts of the plant including the leaves, seeds, and bulb can be used. But now, it’s time to start learning the science behind the herb and be aware of what is beyond its culinary uses.
Fennel and its seeds are abundant with essential volatile oil compounds like anethole, fenchone, and estragole which are responsible for providing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antibacterial effects.
Although shown in animal studies, fennel had benefits of treating Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, glaucoma, and cancer. Many health claims have been made for fennel throughout the ages and drinking fennel tea was considered an effective practice in traditional medicine for treating various ailments. What are the benefits of fennel tea? Well, scroll down to know the long list of fennel tea’s benefits!
Fennel Tea: Benefits You Must Know
If we take the fennel tea alone, we could begin from its properties which include several chemical compounds such as beta-carotene, beta-myrcene, camphene, vitamin-C, calcium, magnesium, iron, and others. When those chemical compounds present in the fennel tea are combined, it can combat free radicals in the body which is the product of natural human oxidation (harmful nevertheless).
When free radicals in the body are fought, it can relatively reduce the risks of developing several chronic conditions. Aside from this significant benefit, there are numerous benefits of fennel tea and those are mentioned below:
Helps With Menstruation
The molecules called phytoestrogen(2) present in fennel is quite helpful for girls and women struggling with menstruation as these molecules help to balance the hormonal system. In addition to that, some premenstrual treatments contain fennel to alleviate dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps)(3).
In fact, in a study, a dramatic reduction of menstrual cramps was noted and fennel proved to be more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers. The antispasmodic properties can relax the muscles in the uterus, release muscle tension, and soothe inflammation.
Stimulates Milk Production
Although some argue that it has not been proved, anecdotal evidence and some medical literature agree(4) that fennel can stimulate a mother’s breast milk supply. Fennel has been used as a galactagogue for several years.
Because it has phytoestrogens which are considered similar to the estrogen hormone found in the body. Galactagogue is a substance known to increase the quality and quantity of a breastfeeding mother’s breast milk supply. However, it is always safe to consult with your doctor before trying fennel tea for this purpose alone.
Eases Menopausal Symptoms
Although a larger clinical trial is needed, a study with a few women with menopausal symptoms was tested to see whether fennel tea would be of any help with the situation. As a result, there was a tremendous and effective reduction in the painful symptoms menopause brought to women over 50 years old(5).
Detoxifies Your Body
Fennel tea can detoxify your body and treat an upset stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome(6)), laxatives, or any other digestive problem and other conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system.
Drinking some fennel tea will cleanse your body and move toxins through your system. Studies have proved that fennel seeds were effective against bacteria that cause digestive infections.
The essential oils they contain like anethole, fenchone, and estragole contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties that can keep your digestive system healthy. In fact, it is a common practice in countries such as India to chew fennel seeds after every meal to facilitate digestion, in addition, to help with bad breath as fennel can cleanse pathogens.
Helps in Weight Loss
Did you know that fennel tea acts as an appetite suppressant? If you are looking to cut an extra pound, fennel tea can help you. As per some preliminary research, fennel tea can boost the metabolism of fat. Meaning, it will enable the body to burn fat more effectively and quickly. The presence of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants (all of which are essential for burning fat) can help you lose weight easily.
First of all, fennel seeds can kick-start your metabolism in a healthy way which is the key to lose weight healthily. Other ways fennel tea can help in losing weight is by reducing fat storage, improving mineral and vitamin absorption, and removing toxins from the body (thanks to its diuretic properties).
Similarly, as fennel is a rich source of fiber, it will prevent you from overeating which means less consumption of calories. Finally, volatile oils such as anethole, fenchone, and estragole help kick-start digestion by promoting the production of gastric enzymes. A good digestive system is always the key to healthy weight loss.
The amount of calcium present in fennel is vital for strengthening bones in your body. Calcium prevents osteoporosis (bone depletion). Fennel tea contains Vitamin-K, magnesium, and phosphorus -all of which benefit the bones and general health of the body.
Clears Skin Problems
Because of the anti-inflammatory response, fennel tea could be good for acne. Fennel tea acts as a toner and improves the skin texture and quercetin and kaempferol in the tea can fight several skin disorders. It provides minerals such as selenium, calcium, and zinc which are vital for balancing hormones while maintaining the oxygen balance in the bloodstream of the body.
Aside from that, these minerals impart a soothing and cooling effect on the skin. Most research on the benefits of fennel tea for the skin refers to its seeds, nevertheless, as the tea is prepared with the crushed seeds some mentioned benefits are bound to get absorbed into the body itself.
Improves Eye Health
Besides protecting your eyes from inflammation, it can minimize glaucoma and cataracts which occur due to muscular degeneration. Vitamin-A and Vitamin-C in fennel tea can prevent inflammation and enhance your vision respectively.
Fennel tea is useful for eye health as they are also rich in flavonoids which prevents pigment cell death. You can apply the tea bag to your eyes to reduce eye fatigue and irritation, too.
Reduces The Risk of Cancer
The seeds of fennel contain powerful and effective compounds that combat free radicals. The antioxidants can prevent various chronic illnesses, even neutralize free radicals responsible for developing cancer. Researchers say that fennel can be used to inhibit the growth of tumors due to its concentration of flavonoids, phenols, and alkaloids. Many animal studies have proved that fennel can help fight breast and liver cancer.
Moreover, fennel tea can increase the number of antioxidants in your body by the antioxidants maintained in the tea attaching to molecules in your body that are fighting oxidative damage. The plethora of antioxidants in fennel tea is zinc, manganese, choline, phosphorus, selenium, lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin, all of which can protect your body against free radicals beating oxidative stress.
Boosts Heart Health
The presence of fiber in the fennel can help your heart in various ways. From reducing certain heart disease risk factors (such as high cholesterol) to reducing acid reflux, consuming fennel tea can not only lower the risk of heart diseases but also improve your heart health. Acid reflux can easily be recognized by heartburn in the lower chest area.
It occurs when acid in the stomach flows back up into the esophagus and fennel tea can increase gastric acid and help with acid reflux. Various nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium play a crucial role in keeping your heart healthy. Another key factor is the help of Vitamin B-6 and folate that can inhibit the build-up of homocysteine which damages blood vessels and causes heart problems.
Since fennel is a muscle relaxant, ancient remedies used fennel to treat insomnia. Drink a cup of fennel tea before bed to relax your muscles, even the muscles in the digestive system, you will feel more ready for bed with a calming effect.
As the essential oils and vital fibers present in fennel tea flushes out the toxins from your body, it will cleanse the blood. When the blood is purified, it can help in optimum absorption of nutrients in the body and you will have a healthy body with enough nutrients.
Enhance Brain Performance
Vasodilation properties in fennel tea can help in smooth blood flow throughout the body, particularly to the brain. The presence of potassium can enhance electrical nerve conductivity in the brain for optimal function which will boost the brain’s performance.
When the blood vessels are expanded, more oxygen flow will be allowed in the brain. Moreover, smooth blood flow will minimize the risk of blood clots, which can prevent brain bleed or stroke. So, start your day with a cup of fennel tea every day to let your brain work sharper.
Fennel Tea: Side Effects and Risks
Because of the lack of large-scale, well-designed clinical trials, there have been a few skeptical concerns raised regarding the risk one could endure while consuming fennel tea.
The side effects or risks of fennel tea are the following:
- Although fennel is considered fairly mild, some people could be allergic to it, specifically individuals who are allergic to carrots or celery.
- It is not advised for individuals susceptible to seizure or even taking seizure medication to consume fennel tea.
- There is a high chance of fennel tea interacting with medication(7).
- It has been proved that fennel has an estrogenic effect, meaning it mimics the effects of estrogen. Thus, pregnant ladies shouldn’t consume fennel tea as it could bring hormonal imbalances. The estrogen that is activated in the oil of the seeds could confuse your pregnant body since you are already experiencing all kinds of hormones in the body(8).
- People with cancers that are sensitive to estrogen should avoid fennel tea. In addition to that, a key element in fennel called estragole has been recognized as a potential carcinogen. So anyone with cancer or at a high risk for cancer should avoid it altogether.
- If you are being treated with breast or ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor or physician before consuming the tea frequently.
- Any person with a bleeding disorder or who is taking blood thinners should be cautious while consuming fennel tea.
Fennel Tea: Preparation and Doses
Fennel tea that is ready to steep can be purchased from any supermarket or health food store. If you can get a hold of fennel seeds from a health food store or fresh fennel seeds from your own plant, you can make your own potent and strong-smelling fennel tea at home. It is prepared by mixing the seeds in water with the volatile oils blending well with the water.
Fennel seeds can be dried by laying them flat and sun-soaking for three days or by microwaving them in increments of 30 seconds. Then, crush the dried seeds (1 to 2 tablespoons) using a mortar and pestle or you can simply crush them with the back of a spoon to release the flavor. Place the crushed seeds in a mug. Pour a cupful of very hot water (not boiling), cover, and steep for 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t forget that the longer you steep the tea, the stronger the brew will taste. For an added experience, you can use a little bit of honey to the tea. Finally, strain and enjoy the tea!
Another method is to toast the seeds first to make the tea a little darker. Fennel tea tastes a distinct flavor like licorice and bold anise notes with a relaxing scent and slightly bitter aftertaste. Since there is no recommended daily limit established for how much fennel tea is safe to drink, try one cup at a time and see how your body reacts to the tea.
All things considered, fennel tea has proved its several benefits regarding the health of one’s body. Starting and ending your day with a cup of fennel tea may bring significant improvements and changes in your body. Stay healthy with a cup of fennel tea starting today!
Disclaimer: The above information is only for educational purposes. Hence, do not disregard or delay seeking professional advice from your doctor or physician and rely only on the aforementioned information. Because it is never a substitute for professional, medical advice diagnosis, or treatment.