Foeniculum vulgare, commonly known by the name fennel, is a flavorful culinary herb and a medicinal plant. This post talks about 12 benefits of fennel and its seeds, all based on science.
Both the crunchy bulb and seeds of this plant possess a mild, licorice-like flavor. However, the flavor of seeds is more intense due to their powerful essential oils.
Rich in Health-Protective Nutrients
Both fennel and its seeds are low in calories but provide many important nutrients.
According to a review published in Biomed Research International, fennel has long been used as a medicinal plant for a wide variety of conditions linked to digestive, endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory systems and as a milk stimulant for lactating mothers. Research studies show that it contains antioxidants and antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
One cup of raw fennel slices contains merely 27 calories, with nearly three gm of fiber. It packs 17% of the daily value of vitamin C and 10% of daily value of potassium and small amounts of manganese, calcium, iron, and B vitamins.
Fennel Benefits the Menopause Phase
For women, the health benefits of fennel are primarily linked to its oil. A 2019 paper published in the Journal of Menopausal Medicine reviewed the effects of fennel oil in management of painful menstruation, premenstrual syndrome, skipping periods, menopause, lactation, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The report involves one study in which women taking 100 mg of fennel oil daily for eight weeks showed improved scores on a menopause rating scale, compared with women on a sunflower oil placebo.
However, one should always consult a physician when taking the oil either orally, topically, or even via aromatherapy. You should rely on the guidance and supervision of a physician to better determine if you can benefit from oil, which formulation to buy, how to use it, and to monitor any potential interactions, allergic reactions, or any other possible side effects. This is especially true in case you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Fennel supplements may also interfere with effectiveness of birth control pills.
Soothes Menstrual Cramps
It may soothe painful menstrual cramps, which can be helpful if your menstrual cramps make you bedridden or highly dependent on painkillers.
It works on menstrual pain by decreasing the number of prostaglandins in your body, as per a study published in 2012 in the journal Ayu. Prostaglandins are chemicals which help the uterine muscles contract and shed the tissue that lines the inside of uterus (also known as endometrium). People who have excess of prostaglandins may experience more frequent and painful contractions than normal.
Additionally, fennel has nitrites, which aid blood flow. In other words, nitrites may a help the endometrium get shed more easily and faster than normal.
May Promote Healthy Skin
One cup of raw fennel bulb contains 12% of RDI(Recommended Daily Intake) of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which prevents cell damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful substances that are partly produced by ultraviolet (UV) exposure, unhealthy diets, stress, even normal aerobic metabolism. Vitamin C is also important for collagen production & absorption of iron.
The seeds being consumed in a small amount are low in providing daily RDI of vitamin C. A tablespoon or 6 gm of fennel seeds provide 1% of RDI of Vitamin C.
Fennel Benefits the Digestion Process
The fennel seeds are commonly used as a type of spice to season food. Medicinally, the seeds have also been used for treating bloating and gas. For this purpose, a tea is made from a tsp of fennel seeds and hot water, steeped for 20 minutes, and sipped about 30 minutes after a meal.
Helps Ease Pain
A 2020 study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, looked at the action of fennel in people with knee osteoarthritis. Patients were randomly given either a capsule containing powdered fennel extract, or a placebo, twice a day for two weeks. The test group showed a reduction in pain and stiffness and the control group did not.
May Aid Weight Management
An organic compound found in fennel, anethole, may naturally suppress appetite, and thus can be beneficial if you’re trying to manage weight.
According to a study published in 2015, in the journal Clinical Nutrition Research, researchers gave 9 participants 3 different teas, one of which included fennel. After the participants consumed the teas, the researchers gave them lunch and analyzed the food the participants consumed. The researchers found that after drinking fennel tea, the participants experienced less hunger and more feelings of being full.
Helps Prevent Chronic Diseases
Being rich in vitamins, minerals & powerful plant compounds, fennel may help prevent certain chronic conditions, like cardiovascular diseases & cancer.
Also, in addition to potential appetite-suppressing qualities, the organic compound anethole links to a lower risk of developing or furthering the growth of cancer. In a study published in 2021 in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers found that anethole helps trigger apoptosis. Apoptosis is programmed cell death, an essential process preventing cancer cells from developing and spreading.
Supports Brain Health
Some research has pointed towards fennel being helpful in preventing degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study published in 2017 in the journal Natural product research, researchers studied the antioxidants of four herbs, including fennel. After evaluating the herbs, the researchers discovered that they helped reduce oxidative stress, which highly damages the cells. Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that fennel is amongst the herbs that can prevent or slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.