Fennel seeds have been used since ancient times as an effective aid to digestion. They form part of the famous Indian ‘Paan’ which is usually chewed after dinner. The fruit of the flowering plant is dried to form the seeds which are made up of various volatile oil compounds. These volatile oils stimulate the production of gastric juices, helping with the digestive process.
Fennel has antispasmodic properties, relaxing the smooth muscle cells lining the stomach and intestines. This helps to reduce cramping and bloating. It also helps with gastric ulcers, stimulates bile flow and reduces constipation, all contributing to digestive health. Anytime you have a stomach ache, bloating or gas, chew thoroughly on some fennel seeds and swallow for relief.
You may not know that fennel is one of the main ingredients in “gripe water”, a traditional remedy for colic. Recent studies have supported the use of a fennel-based essential oil to help infants with colic.
How to add to your diet
1. Chew a teaspoon of fennel seeds after a meal. The chewing process releases an anise-flavored juice that is slightly bitter in taste. The juice helps to reduce digestive problems.
2. Make a fennel tea by adding a teaspoon of crushed seeds to a cup of hot water and allowing it to steep for 5 minutes. Fennel tea can also be purchased at health stores.
3. Half a teaspoon of fennel seed powder can be added to a glass of water for indigestion.