Fennel more than a mouth fresher – it's packed with medicinal value

The fruit of the fennel herb, which is commonly used as a mouth-freshener, has plenty of other medicinal values. These range from offering relief in joint pain to eliminating constipation and treating colic.

Fennel or saunf, often mistaken as seeds, are actually fruits of the fennel herb. The fruits can offer relief in many ailments, especially when indigestion, vomiting or fever is involved. It has got sweet almost liquorice like taste which is quite nice and it emits a pleasant fragrance when chewed.

Fennel improves digestion

Fennel fruits contain volatile oils that aid digestion; they soothe and relax the gut controlling pain causing spasms in the belly. The oils also relieve nausea. These include oils like fenchone, pinene, anethole, cineole, limonene and anisic aldehyde etcetera. The aspartic acid in fennel helps to offer relief from flatulence and bloating.

The volatile oils in the fruit, when chewed, help to stimulate the secretion of gastric juices and digestive juices. These oils reduce stomach and intestinal inflammation and nutrients are better absorbed from food. You will often find the use of fennel in antacid preparations. It also acts as an appetizer.

Slightly roasting fennel on a tawa, powdering it and storing it in a bottle will keep your natural digestive aid readily available. Take half a teaspoon of this powder every day with warm water.

You can also grind fennel with dried ginger, cloves and some honey, and take a teaspoon after every meal and at bedtime for treating indigestion.

Fennel powder taken with cardamom powder in a 1:1 ratio, taken ¼ teaspoon with water twice a day after meals also works.

A natural remedy against constipation

Fennel is a rich source of dietary fibre. 100 grams of fennel contains 39.8 grams of fibre. A lot of this roughage is insoluble fibre, which retains a lot of water and helps to slow down digestion. Stool is made softer and easier to expel. Fennel is therefore very effective against constipation.

For best effects, Ayurveda recommends making a very fine powder of 1 teaspoon each of fennel, dried ginger, senna leaves and rock salt. Take a teaspoon with water at bedtime for relief.

Effective in curing colic

Folk medicine has long used fennel to treat colic in infants. Fennel tea is a traditional western recommendation for colic, which breastfeeding mothers often drink. Indian mothers have also traditionally given infants fennel water, though that is not recommended by western medical practitioners.

The effectiveness of fennel against colic may be because of the presence of the phytoestrogen anethole, which offers relief from renal colic.

Improves symptoms of diarrhoea

Fennel is effective against diarrhoea, helped by the volatile oils. This is why it is often recommended in irritable bowel syndrome by alternative medicine practitioners.

Provides relief from upper respiratory tract infections

Fennel has also been used to treat infections of the upper respiratory tract, like cough, excessive phlegm formation, hoarseness etc. For coughs, Ayurveda recommends gargling with a concentrated solution of saunf water. To make saunf water, boil water, and when it reaches boiling point, throw the fennel in and turn off heat. Put a lid on and let the water come to room temperature before gargling.

A more concentrated, boiled down version of fennel in water can be filtered and used as an eyewash to soothe inflamed eyes.

Fights acidity and heartburn

Heartburn or acidity can be a chronic condition or triggered by food, lifestyle and/or stress. Boil two teaspoons of fennel in a cup of water, infuse for about 5 minutes, strain, cool and drink to get relief from heartburn.

Stimulates lactation

Fennel has traditionally been used by new mothers to stimulate lactation. Drinking fennel tea improves the milk production in new mothers. It is said to have a slight oestrogen-like effect that stimulates milk production.

Nursing mothers can boil one tablespoon of fennel seeds in a mug of water and sip on it early in the morning. Alternatively, fennel can be left soaking in water, overnight, and that water had in the morning.

Fights halitosis

Halitosis or persistent bad breath can be cured by chewing on a handful of fennel. Fennel is mildly aromatic and leaves the mouth feeling fresh and smelling good. The oils in the fennel neutralise the odour emitting acids that bacteria in the mouth release.

Other benefits of fennel may be in treating anaemia and there may also be benefits against obesity. It is used extensively in Ayurveda and other traditional medicine to treat kidney stones, lung, gout and liver disorders.

Caution: Fennel should not be taken in excess. Too much can stimulate menstruation in women and can even cause intoxication.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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