Fennel (or Saunf) is dried seeds of a herb that belongs to Apiaceae (parsley or carrot) family. It is widely used in vegetables, soups and pickles to give an aromatic flavor to the food. These seeds can be used in whole or ground forms, also roasted fennel gives entirely different and strong flavor and aroma to the food. In some Indian cuisines fennel can be used for tempering (tadka). Tender young leaves of the plant are used for garnishing salads.
Fennel is also used as a mouth fresher in different forms. With its numerous utilities in food it is also a medicinal herb. Because of the medicinal properties fennel is being used in traditional medicine for years. It is highly nutritious — a good source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Here are 10 medicinal benefits of fennel:
1. Stimulates digestion: Fennel has anti-spasmodic and carminative ( that gives relief from bloating and gas) properties — that makes it a wonder herb for problems like indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps in other stomach related problems like stomach ache, swelling, ulcers and constipation.
2. Increases metabolism: It helps to break down fat cells, and it also increases metabolism. The fibrous fruit seeds also prevents formation of excessive fats. The consumption needs to be controlled though – a pinch of its powder in food (one meal) is enough.
3. For skin health: Fennel has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties because of that it has magical effect on skin health. Keeping a towel soaked in boiled fennel water on face or directly taking vapours makes the skin to glow.
4. For hair related problems: The anti-microbial properties of the seeds make it a one stop solution for all hair related problems like hairfall, itching and dandruff. Make paste of powered fennel adding little water or vinegar to it and wash your hair after keeping it for 2-3 minutes.
5. Controls blood sugar and cholesterol: The seed extracts are beneficial for controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels of the body due to the presence of anti-oxidants in it.
6. Treats insomnia: It contains magnesium— thus have calming effect on mind and body. Intake of small amounts of seeds can help sleep better and treat insomnia.
7. Controls blood pressure: This herb has potassium which regulates the amount of sodium in the body and also the presence of nitrates lowers the blood pressure. It has sufficient amount of magnesium that can help regulate blood pressure in women.
8. For pregnant women: It treats morning sickness that causes nausea and vomiting to pregnant women. Also it helps in digestion and bloating. A cup of fennel tea is a wonderful way to start a day. Also, directly chewing or drinking its water have same effect.
9. For menstrual cramp: Potassium in these seeds help in regulating the sodium present in body. Thus, it prevents water retention in the body which is a primary reason for menstrual cramps.
10. For Asthma: Fennel seeds and their phyto nutrients help clear sinuses. Sinus is a condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. They make a great tea to aid with bronchitis, congestion and cough as they have expectorant properties.
Fennel tea: It is the most refreshing drink to start your day with. Also it is the most wholesome drink. Boil few seeds in water and savor the richness and goodness of nature. It gives overall health benefits.
Safety caution:Although fennel is used in traditional medicine, there is no high-quality evidence that it is safe or effective as a therapeutic agent. When taken in moderation it is highly beneficial but excessive amount can cause problems.