In some regions of the world, fennel seeds are one of the most trusted herbal remedies. This plant, whose seeds today can easily be obtained almost anywhere in the world, is recommended for a number of ailments and it is also widely used as a spice.
About fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are obtained from the perennial plant called Foeniculum vulgare. Almost all parts of this plant can be used- the bulb, leaves, flowers, seeds, even the pollen. It has a sweet taste that resembles licorice and it is widely cultivated and used in the Mediterranean region, as well as in China, South Asia and North America. Fennel can grow wild even in the driest soils, although it prefers river banks.
Fennel seeds have been used for hundreds of years for culinary and medical purposes. Just like the rest of the plant, the seeds are very rich in vitamins, especially in vitamin C. It also contains minerals, such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and manganese. Fennel seeds are also a great source of dietary fiber.
Health benefits of fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are traditionally used to alleviate stomach problems and irritable bowels. They also normalize the functioning of the liver, kidneys, lungs and spleen. They can be used against water retention, chest pain, high blood pressure, heartburn, coughing and asthma attacks. Fennel seeds are also used to normalize menstrual flow. Some people take fennel seeds to suppress the appetite, especially during weight loss programs.
Since fennel seeds contain phytoestrogens, it was believed for a long time that they can be used for breast augmentation, however this was never scientifically confirmed.
Fennel seeds were traditionally used in India in raw state to improve eye sight and as a tonic for cloudy eyes. Fennel seed extract makes a great remedy for insect bites and for minor skin injuries. Some indigenous peoples even used it on snake bites.
This herbal remedy is recommended for women, because it has an antispasmodic effect, which is particularly useful against menstrual cramps. Because of the phytoestrogens, fennel seeds were given to pregnant women to improve the growth and the development of the fetus. Nursing women are sometimes advised to eat fennel seeds because it is believed they increase the milk flow.
Fennel seeds help lower the high blood pressure and control the cholesterol levels. There is some evidence they can even be useful in prevention of some forms of cancer, for example colon cancer.
Like any other food supplement or herbal remedy, fennel seeds should be consumed in moderation, because excessive amounts can have an adverse effect on the health.