Fennel is a perennial herb with yellow flowers and a flavor similar to licorice. Fennel is a main ingredient in liquors such as Absinthe and toothpaste. It’s also used to add flavor to many different food products.
Fennel has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal benefits for centuries, and modern science has begun corroborating some of the traditional claims. Fennel has been found to have the following properties:
- Anti Inflammatory
- Hepatoprotective activity (preventing liver disease)
- Antispasmodic activity (muscle relaxation)
Some research supports that heart disease and cancer can be prevented by fennel seeds. Meanwhile gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, and hypertension can be treated with fennel.
All parts of the fennel plant have culinary and medicinal uses, including the flowers, bulb, and seeds. However, only the seeds are crushed and steeped to make fennel tea.
One teaspoon of raw fennel seeds contains:
- Calories: 7
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 0 grams
Fennel is a source of:
Potential Health Benefits of Fennel Tea
Fennel is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and research has found a number of potential health benefits to drinking fennel tea:
Relief From Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Fennel has antispasmodic and gas-relieving effects that make it an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In one study, fennel combined with curcumin significantly improved symptoms and quality of life for people with IBS over a 30-day trial.
Taking fennel oil by mouth has proven useful in management of painful periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), lack of periods, menopause, lactation, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) according to results of clinical studies. Topical application of fennel oil has also shown effectiveness for sexual function, vaginal dryness, and excess hair growth on women.
Protection from Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Fennel essential oil — expressed from the seeds and present in fennel tea — has demonstrated antifungal and antibacterial properties. One study showed that fennel essential oil in combination with Mupirocin (a topical antibiotic ointment) may be considered as a natural alternative in killing antibiotic resistant bacteria strains. This combination may be able to decrease the growth rate of antibiotic resistance. Another showed fennel to be effective against candida species of fungi.
Osteoarthritis Pain Management
For people with osteoarthritis, fennel tea may be a helpful way to reduce pain. A randomized, double-blind trial indicated that fennel reduces pain and stiffness and may be an appropriate alternative for complementary treatment in women with knee osteoarthritis.
Potential Risks of Fennel Tea
Because fennel tea has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. The factors that make it effective can create complications for people taking certain medications. Consider the following before preparing or drinking fennel tea:
Fennel tea has no known serious drug interactions, but it may inhibit the effects of birth control pills because of its estrogen-like properties.
Fennel has also been shown to inhibit the metabolism of acetaminophen.