Fennel Food and Medicine Combined


Anyone that is a fan of good Indian food knows that chewing fennel seeds after a meal helps improve digestion and freshen the breath.  What most people are unaware of are the many other health benefits of eating fennel.

One of the unique attributes of healing with herbs is that when taken, the herb will act as needed.  In the case of fennel this allows it to help stop diarrhea and also work well as a treatment for constipation.

Fennel is useful as

  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Carminative
  • Anti-spasmodic

Health 365 states that researchers have discovered that fennel blocks inflammation and carcinogenesis.

Fennel is widely used in toothpaste and mouthwash.  It is also used to relieve colic in children.  Traditionally fennel tea was thought useful in treating obesity and reducing wrinkles.  It was also used in ancient China as a treatment for cholera.

Fennel does interact with hormone affected cancer medicine such as tamoxifen.  It interacts with estrogen pills since it has many of the same effects, it can decrease the efficiency of birth control pills and reduce the absorption of certain antibiotics.  For a more comprehensive list see WebMD

Treat a hangover with fennel.  It detoxifies the liver and the rest of the body.  Essential oil of fennel can lend courage when needed.  It has been used for the body and spirit for centuries.

There are 2 very different parts of fennel that are useful, the fennel seeds and the fennel bulb.  Most people that have read my blog know that herbs with both medicinal and culinary uses are my passion and fennel is no exception.

The fennel seeds are used in traditionally made Chai tea.  There are abundant recipes for fennel cookies, they are used in curries and I use them in my spaghetti sauce.  This last use may seem a bit unusual but fennel is a useful staple of Mediterranean cooking.

Fennel bulb can be roasted boiled grilled and eaten raw in salads.  Allrecipes.com    has a number of yummy recipes using fennel.

At its best when combined with flavorful foods, it is commonly paired with Mediterranean ingredients such as lamb, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, seafood and blue cheese.  Fennel itself has a mild aniseed (licorice) like taste that enhances the flavors of other foods.

Although fennel is useful in recipes and in healing, as with all things, overuse can be detrimental because of its volatile oils.  Fennel is also not a good option for those people with allergies to celery, carrot or mugwort.

The next time you are out grocery shopping, give a second look to that strange looking bulb that you see in the produce department.  You just may discover a delicious new addition to your diet.