The benefits of fennel are primarily for the digestive system, though the herb can aid a number of other conditions.
There are several varieties of fennel including sweet fennel, wild fennel, and Florence fennel.
This licorice-tasting herb has been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes for centuries.
The herb’s benefits lie in its oil, which can soothe muscle spasms, and the seeds, which are ground for use in cooking or to make an herbal fennel seed tea.
Often in Asian cuisines the fennel seeds are eaten after a meal to ease digestion, and this is a recommended way of administering the herb.
The tea is also an easy way to add the herb to the diet. Fennel root can also be used in a number of dishes such as salads and casseroles.
Benefits of fennel include:
- Digestive disorders such as muscle spasms and flatulence. Fennel can also reduce acid in the stomach and is usually an ingredient in antacid supplements. Drinking fennel seed tea can ease the acid fairly quickly.
- Fennel can encourage the body to rid itself of waste, so it is useful for those suffering from constipation.
- Respiratory disorders such as catarrh, as fennel is a natural expectorant. Another of the benefits of fennel tea is that it can be gargled to ease sore throats. It is also useful for easing coughs and can help fight the symptoms of bronchitis.
- Fennel is a cleansing herb, so it can remove bacteria in the digestive system which can cause diarrhea.
- Fennel herb is a natural diuretic, and it can be used to encourage the body to rid itself of excess water.
- Reduces fevers.
- Fennel seed tea is also believed to be good for treating food poisoning and insect bites. Some also consider it to be useful for snake bites.
- It is often used as a breath freshener and is sometimes found as an ingredient in toothpastes and mouth fresheners.
- Fennel’s histidine content can help the body fight anemia.
- Fennel herb has the ability to help to regulate menstruation, as it has an effect on hormone production.
- High amounts of anti-oxidants in fennel help to support eye function. A juice made from the leaves of the fennel plant can be used as a compress to ease irritation.
- Fennel has also been studied as a way of fighting the symptoms of headache and migraine with excellent results.
Although there are many benefits of fennel herb, there are some side effects as well. Fennel should not be consumed by pregnant women, and excessive amounts of the herb are not recommended for anybody. Too much can bring on breathing problems and cause an irregular heartbeat.
In very rare, cases fennel can cause an allergic reaction on the skin or in the respiratory system. Excessive amounts of fennel herb can affect the nervous system or cause photosensitivity of the skin.
Some may experience vomiting after taking fennel, particularly in excessive amounts, so a physician should be consulted if that happens.