Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Fennel is a tall herb that produces yellow flowers and has hollow stems. It is now grown in many parts of the world and has been used as a medicinal plant for many years.
This plant produces seeds that can be dried and brewed to make a strong-smelling tea that is known to offer many health benefits. Tea made from dried fennel seeds has a licorice-like taste, relaxing scent, and leave a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Traditionally, this tea was known to strengthen eyesight, aid digestion, improve memory, and regulate hormone. But what do proven studies say about this tea?
Our guide to fennel tea today will disclose all the facts, benefits, history, and everything you need to know about it.
Fennel tea is made from Foeniculum vulgare, a plant native to the Mediterranean region, which belongs to the carrot family. However, the plant is now grown in many parts of the world.
This perennial and hardy herb has green, celery leaves, and small yellow flowers. It produces a white bulb that has overlaid stalks. It naturally grows on its own in a sunny, hot climate and thrives well in sandy areas. It produces seeds that can be as long as 0.4 inches. These are the ones used to make tea
Its bulbs and flowers can be used for cooking, but it is the seeds that are known to have the most medicinal value.
Most people may confuse fennel seeds and anise seeds since they are similar in taste and appearance, but you can tell the distinction when you have both since fennel seeds are relatively larger.
Related Article: Everything you Need to Know About Star Anise Tea
History of Fennel Tea
The use of fennel tea can be linked to the people of Ancient Greece and Rome, where fennel plant was used in celebrations and traditional rituals to symbolize nature.
In Greece, the fennel stalk was used to steal fire form their gods by Prometheus. They carried fire using its trunk since it was used to cook food. That’s why it had to be carried using an herb that was good for digestion.
For seeds, their usage can be linked to Ancient Greece, where athletes used them to take them to increase their stamina. Greek doctors recommended fennel tea to lactating mothers to increase breast milk.
In Ancient Egypt, China, and India, fennel tea was used to treat insect and snake bites. However, during fasting, fennel seeds were eaten to relieve hunger.
Today, this herb is grown in many parts of the world and is widely used for cooking due to its many health benefits. Also, it is added to toothpaste to give it a flavor.
As you can see, fennel tea is not a newly-discovered tea; it has been used for many centuries. Let’s now discuss the health benefits you can derive from this herbal tea;
Fennel Tea benefits
This tea is associated with many health benefits including;
1. Improving Heart Health
Fennel is rich in fiber, which helps the heart in various ways, including reducing certain heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol. This herb also has a high fiber content which can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Fennel tea contains nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which play a vital role in keeping your heart healthy.
For instance, having potassium in your diet may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which can cause heart disease. Magnesium is essential to the cardiovascular system as it regulates blood pressure.
Fennel also contains Vitamin B-6 and folate, which inhibit the build-up homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels and cause heart problems.
2. May help fight cancer
The wide array of potent plant compounds in fennel can prevent various chronic illnesses such as cancer. A fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel is anethole. In animal subjects, anethole has been shown to help reduce inflammation and prevent the development of cancer.
Researchers have also put forward a biological mechanism to explain these anticancer effects. The mechanism involves shutting down the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to prevent activation of a potentially strong gene-altering molecule known as NF-kappaB. The anethole in fennel has also been shown to protect the liver of animals from toxic chemical injury. (1)
Researchers also say that it can be used to inhibit the growth of tumors due to its concentration of phenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids. Some studies show that fennel can help fight breast and liver cancer. Although these results are promising, human studies may be needed before fennel can be recommended for cancer treatment.
3. Improves eye health
Do your eyes appear watery and inflamed? Taking fennel tea or incorporating fennel in your meals can help protect your eyes from inflammation. Also, it can help minimize the occurrence of disorders related to muscular degeneration such as cataracts and glaucoma.
This is possible due to the high level of antioxidants found in fennel such as Vitamin C and amino acids. These are helpful to rejuvenate tissues and prevent aging. The juice of the fennel leaves can also be applied to the eyes to help reduce eye fatigue and irritation.
A study conducted at Shivaji University in India strongly suggests that fennel has trans-anethole, which may prevent diabetic retinopathy where people with diabetes have vision loss. The compound blocks the conversion of excess sugar to sorbitol in the blood. (2)
This is important because high blood sugar leads to the conversion of sugar to sorbitol, which can cause cataracts, retinopathy, or even blindness.
Fennel is also rich in flavonoids which protect against the death of pigment cells due to oxidative stress-induced death. Due to this property (prevention of pigment cell death), fennel is useful for eye health for numerous reasons.
4. Alleviates symptoms of colic
Numerous studies suggest that tea made of various herbs, including fennel seeds, can relieve colic-related symptoms. Parents of colicky infants have traditionally used fennel tea to calm their babies. A study shows that funnel water is a safe remedy for colic, flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating in infants. (3)
This herb boasts certain antispasmodic qualities which can relax muscles and ease the discomfort associated with colic. Polymers such as polymeric and heavy molecules are used in the treatment of renal colic. These polymers, also known as phytoestrogens, can be found in anethole, a component of fennel oil.
5. Relieves indigestion
It’s a common practice among Indians to chew fennel after meals. Fennel facilitates digestion and helps fight bad breath. Some components found in fennel essential oil promote the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, which enhances nutrient absorption from food and reduce inflammation of stomach and intestines.
Additionally, fennel can help kick start digestion by promoting the production of various enzymes. This herb is also used in antacid preparations thanks to its anti-acidic (basic) properties.
6. Regulates blood pressure
Fennel contains lots of potassium, which is a vital nutrient in our bodies for a variety of essential processes. One of the primary qualities of potassium is that it helps in vasodilation, which means it can help relax the blood vessels, thereby lowering your blood pressure. (4)
It is no secret – blood pressure issues put you at risk of a wide range of problems such as stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis. Furthermore, for diabetics, blood pressure is a vital consideration to help manage the levels of insulin and glucose.
Incorporation a cup of fennel tea in your daily routine can prevent many potentially lethal complications. Having fennel in your daily diet can boost the level of potassium in your body to a greater extent.
7. It’s good for brain function
A few things can affect brain function as we age. But there are things we can do to try to retain our mental faculties as much as we can. Fennel boasts of vasodilation properties which aid smooth blood flow, especially to the brain. The herb is also rich in potassium, which enhances electrical nerve conductivity in the brain for optimal function.
Apart from boosting performance, smooth blood flow minimizes the risk of blood clots, which are linked to brain bleed or stroke. Besides, expanding the blood vessels aids allows more oxygen to flow in the brain. Start your day with a cup of Fennel tea to feel sharper throughout the day.
8. Regulates menstruation and boosts breast milk
Fennel has phytoestrogen molecules, which makes it very helpful to women and girls. These molecules help to balance the female hormonal system. Some pre-menstrual treatments contain fennel to reduce painful menstruation called dysmenorrhea. Having Fennel tea during menstruation can cut menstrual bleeding and ease the pain.
Additionally, fennel can still be used by breastfeeding women to improve the production of breast milk. Women have traditionally used this herb to boost milk production. Most women say it works, but this may not be the case for everyone. Try incorporating it in your diet, especially for women who suffer from low production of milk. Women in menopause can use fennel to cope with menopausal problems. (5)
Related Article: The 8 Best Teas For Pain Relief From Menstrual Cramps
9. Keeps the bones stronger
Fennel contains useful amounts of calcium, which is vital for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium prevents bone depletion (osteoporosis). This is a skeletal disease that mainly affects older people and causes fractures.
Apart from calcium, fennel tea contains significant amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin K – all which offer additional benefits to the bones and general health.
As you can see, fennel tea is one of the healthiest and most natural tea you can take. It is not processed and benefits your body in a great way. Let’s proceed to its safety concerns and side effects.
Side Effects, Safety Concerns, and Risks Associated With Fennel Tea
Fennel is safe when taken in its raw form as tea. However, there is not enough evidence to prove that it is safe for adults when used for medicinal purposes.
In terms of side effects, drinking fennel tea can cause allergic skin reactions to some people. People who have allergies to carrots, celery, and mugwort can develop allergic skin reaction after drinking fennel tea. For people with skins that are sensitive to sunlight, fennel tea can make it extra sensitive. Therefore, if you drink fennel tea, wear sunblock, or apply sunscreen to prevent sunburns. (6)
For breastfeeding and pregnant women, there is not enough evidence on the safety of using this tea during that time. Therefore, it is best to avoid its usage.
For children, there is no enough evidence to show whether or not it is safe, especially when it is taken in medicinal amounts.
Also, people with bleeding disorders should avoid fennel tea as it might delay the process of blood clotting. Drinking fennel tea might increase the risk of bruising or bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
In addition, fennel might work like estrogen, and thus not ideal for people with hormone-sensitive conditions such as uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. If you have any medical condition that might be worsened by estrogen, then avoid the use of fennel. (7)
Also, since fennel can act like estrogen, it may interfere with some birth control pills that contain estrogen. It might reduce its effectiveness. Therefore, you may need to seek the advice of your medical practitioner to see if it may have an effect on it.
How to Make Fennel Tea
There are different ways you can make fennel tea, but here is the most popular recipe;
- Put one teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of tea and pour hot water over it
- Make sure not to boil fennel seed as doing so kills most of its important nutrients
- Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes. You will get a light yellow tea. Drink it hot or cold three times a day
The best time to drink this tea is after meals as it aids in digestion. Also, it leaves a sweet after-taste that is similar to that of licorice, and thus serve as a ‘dessert.’
And although research is lacking in some areas, fennel tea has been proven to offer many health benefits. This popular and delicious type of tea helps to relieve muscle spasms, treat gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as improve digestion, among other things.
Add them to your daily diet, and you will begin to notice the difference.