I am sure most of us who have visited Indian restaurants have noticed that at the end of the meal ,you are served Fennel seeds(plain, roasted or coated with sugar).
Commonly known as large fennel or sweet fennel, or saunf in Hindi, this seed is also eaten after lunch or dinner by most Indians. Its scientific name is Foeniculum vulgare.
For those of you who thought that this was done only to serve as a mouth freshner,it will definitely come as a surprise to know that it has manifold benefits apart from aiding good digestion.
Well then, here are some unbelievable uses you can put these seeds to.Enjoy reading this article presented by Vijaya Kurup and reap the rewards of munching these lovely looking and fragrant seeds everyday.
1. Fennel is very popularly used as an anti flatulent, due to the carminative properties of Aspartic acid found in fennel. Its extract can be used in right from the infants to the old, to cure flatulence and to expel gases from the stomach. In other words, it is a tested remedy for gas, acid stomach, gout, cramps, colic and spasms.
2. Polymeric and heavy molecules are useful in the treatment of renal colic. Such polymers, also called Phytoestrogens, are found in Anethole, a component of the essential oils in fennel. Thatís why it is helpful in treating renal colic.
3. Two of its main constituents are Anethole and Fenchone. Anethole and other terpenoids inhibit spasms in smooth muscles such as those in the intestinal tract.
4. These seeds are very rich in minerals including magnesium.
5. Fennel is an effective treatment for respiratory congestion and is a common ingredient in cough remedies. Fennel provides relief in congestion, bronchitis, cough etc. due to presence of Cineole and Anethol which are expectorant in nature.
6. It can be used for gargling to reduce hoarseness and help soothe sore throats.
7. Fennel is also commonly used to treat amenhorrea, angina, asthma, heartburn, high blood pressure and to boost sexual desire.
8. Fennel is used to improve the functioning of kidneys, spleen, liver and lungs.
9. It promotes milk-flow in nursing mothers and since this milk contains some properties of fennel, it is anti flatulent for the baby too.
10. It is also used for cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy treatments to help rebuild the digestive system. Fennel relaxes the smooth muscle lining the digestive tract (making it an antispasmodic).
11. Fennel seed ground and made into tea is believed to be good for snake bites, insect bites or food poisoning.
12. It is excellent for obesity.as it flushes out toxins from the body.
13. Iron and Histidine,( an amino acid )found in fennel, are helpful in treatment of anaemia as iron is the chief constituent of haemoglobin. Histidine stimulates production of haemoglobin and also helps forming other components of blood.
14. Chewing fennel seeds after meals helps to facilitate digestion and to keep bad breath away.
15. It also has anti acidic (basic) properties and is extensively used in antacid preparations. It is an appetizer too.
16. The most fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel, however, may be anethole-the primary component of its volatile oil. In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has repeatedly been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer.
17. Fennel is helpful in curing diarrhea if caused by bacterial action, as some components of essential oils in fennel such as Anethole, Cineole, etc. have disinfectant and anti bacterial properties. Some amino acids such as Histidine aid digestion and proper functioning of digestive system, thus helping cure diarrhea due to indigestion.
18. Fennel is also used.to ease and regulate menstruation by regulating hormonal action properly in the body.
19. Another advantage of using fennel in your food is that it helps protect eyes from inflammation, disorders related to aging, macular degeneration etc. due to presence of anti oxidants (vitamin-C, amino acid like Arginine which very beneficial for rejuvenation of tissues and prevention of aging), detoxifiers and stimulants etc. in it.
20. Fennel is a diuretic, i.e. increases amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping removal of toxic substances from the body and helping in rheumatism, swelling etc. It increases the flow of urine.
21. Fennel has a marvelous cooling effect in summer if the pale greenish-yellow water, in which it is soaked, is taken with a bit of sugar and black-salt.
22. Fennel seeds, particularly in powdered form, act as laxative. The roughage helps clearance of bowels whereas the stimulating effect helps maintain the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines, thereby helping proper excretion.
23. Recent studies have found that consumption of fennel can increase the production of bile and may also possess, pain-reducing and anti-microbial activities.
24. If eaten regularly it strengthens hair, prevents hair fall, relaxes body, sharpens memory.
25. Italians serve fennel as an appetizer .
26. It is also used to treat colic in infants.
27. It also helps cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy treatments to rebuild the digestive system.
28. Fennel seed ground and made into tea is believed to be good for snake bites, insect bites or food poisoning.
29. Combined with carrot juice, fennel is very good for eye conditions such as night blindness or a weakening of the optic nerve.
30. Fennel is also used in drugs to treat chills. In fact, if you boil the fennel leaves and inhale the steam, it can relieve asthma and bronchitis conditions.
31. The antispasmodic effect of fennel may help to relax other smooth muscles in the body, including the uterus, fennel acts as a phytoestrogen in the body, simulating the effects of estrogen in the system.
32. This herb has also traditionally been used to treat conditions associated with hormonal imbalance in women, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, low milk production, and low libido.
33. Fennel is an active ingredient in many combination herbal formulas used to balance hormones in menopausal and premenstrual women. It is also included in some herbal formulas that claim to promote natural breast enhancement.
34. Fennel is also a very good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure, another risk factor for stroke and heart attack.
35. Fennel tea also relaxes smooth muscles in the uterus, thus relieving menstrual cramps.
36. Fennel can be boiled in water and used to help relieve conjunctivitis and sore eyes. After the water cools, a cotton pad should be soaked in it and placed over the eyelids for ten minutes to give good relief.
37. Fennel juice forms part of formulae for convalescence and for indigestion.
38. The French use it for migraine and dizziness where good results have been noted.
39. Vitamin C, is present in high amounts in fennel.So, the free radicals which cause cellular damage in the body are neutralized. Cellular damage can cause pain and joint degeneration as seen in conditions like RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and osteoarthritis.
40. The vitamin C in fennel also helps in building the immune system.
41. Fennel contains its own unique combination of phytonutrients-including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides-that give it strong antioxidant activity
42.Research has explained a biological mechanism about the anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects of fennel. The intercellular signaling system called tumor necrosis factor (or TNF)-mediated signaling is shut down.. By shutting down this signaling process, the anethole in fennel prevents activation of a potentially strong gene-altering and inflammation-triggering molecule called NF-kappaB.
Caution--.Avoid internal use during pregnancy.
Therefore , donít you think fennel seeds should be used as a daily herb to add flavour and aroma to your diet? There are interesting ways to use it, as fennel tea, as a powder to add aroma to your dishes,salads and sweet dishes.If added to bread/buns/biscuits, it adds a wonderful aroma which both adults and children relish. And please donít forget to chew a few seeds after your meal especially if you have had a heavy meal to prevent any digestion and flatulence problems.It will also keep your mouth smelling fresh. Enjoy all the benefits of this sweet smelling herb!!
Author Brief Bio---Vijaya Kurup worked as the Principal,Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Higher Secondary School and Ramakrishana Junior College in Secunderabad, India for two decades, presently practices Reiki, writes poems in English and Hindi, sings Hindustani Classical music and helps run a childrens' home in Nairobi.