A perennial herb, the fennel plant gives out a sweet licorice taste and is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Every part of the plant is edible, be it the seeds, leaves stalk, or bulb. The seeds are commonly used to prepare herbal medicines besides being used as a spice. It gives out a fragrant taste and odor. People have been using fennel seeds from ancient times, and they can be found growing in the wild, especially in dry limestone soil and banks of rivers. Today, it is cultivated in several parts of the world and the largest producing regions are North America, China, and South Asia.
Be it the plant or the seed, fennel contains a wide range of vitamins, especially vitamin C. Moreover, it also contains minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese besides essential dietary fibers. Vitamin C acts against harmful bacteria in the body, thereby improving the immune system. Also, being a rich source of fibers, consuming fennel seeds is an excellent option if you want to reduce the cholesterol levels in the body. In addition to that, the fibers have the capacity to prevent intestinal cancer as they can eliminate cancerous substances and toxins from the body. One of the most important benefits is that, if you have high blood pressure, consuming them decreases it as these seeds are rich in potassium, thereby reducing the chances of heart attack.
As fennel seeds are rich in phytoestrogens, consuming them has a powerful effect on stomach disorders and irritable bowels. Other than that, the seeds are used to normalize the functioning of the lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys. Moreover, they are useful in comforting chest pain, lowering hypertension, easing water retention, curing heartburn and bronchial asthma, controlling cardiac problems, and promoting menstruation.
It is also said that the consumption of these seeds help in the growth of breasts; however, these claims have not been proved by modern medical science. They can also be used as an effective remedy from continuous coughing. Cancer patients who have gone through chemotherapy and other radiation to stop the growth of cancer cells are recommended to have fennel seeds as they have a soothing effect on the body.
In the past, people in the Indian subcontinent consumed these seeds raw as it was believed that it improved the eyesight. Extracts of the seeds were used as tonics to clear cloudy eyes. Moreover, the oil extracted out of the seeds is said to cure insect bites, and you can even apply it externally to treat snakebites.
The consumption of fennel seeds is said to have an antispasmodic effect, which includes relaxing the muscles of the uterus. Studies have revealed that they stimulate the production of estrogen, which is helpful for the healthy growth of the fetus. More significantly, they help stimulate menstruation besides enhancing the production of milk in lactating mothers. Some ingredients in fennel seeds are combined with other herbal remedies so as to provide a balanced-hormonal system to alleviate pain during menstruation.
Oil extracted out of fennel seeds is known to act as an appetite suppressant and a decongestant. It can be safely used to lose weight and reduce the amount of water retained in the body.
Thus, the seeds of the fennel plant have numerous health benefits, but you should always remember that as with all food items, anything in excess is not good, so their consumption should be limited.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.