Health benefits of fennel seeds
I had a nasty experience with boils in 1989. I noticed one in my armpit. It grew so big and at some point, a cluster of smaller boils surrounded it. As if that was not enough, another came out under my second armpit. I was in severe pain and I was walking around with my arms akimbo. I had to go to the hospital.
Seeing the boils, the doctor prescribed some injections for me but I told him I was preparing for my West African Senior School Certificate Examination and that I was the head girl in my school, so I had responsibilities that would not allow me to come to the hospital daily for the injections. I actually did not lie about the reasons I gave but the truth is that I had a phobia for injections (I still do). He gave me antibiotics instead. So, when I got home, I was given some tongue-lashing by my parents for refusing the injections.
That day, the doctor also gave me some advice on sugar consumption. He told me that all the carbohydrates we eat break down to sugar in the body, and that we do not need to sweeten our foods.
I want you to know that you are sweet enough, reduce your sugar intake.
This week, I will be discussing the seeds of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), a flowering plant species in the carrot family Apiaceae. It was prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans who used it as medicine, food and insect repellant.
The tea was believed to give courage to the warriors prior to battle. India, one of the largest exporters of fennel seeds, uses it voraciously due to its benefits. For instance, Indian families, after having their meals, often consume it for healthier and faster digestion. It is used in many parts of the world for the treatment of a number of diseases like abdominal pains, arthritis, cancer, colic in children, conjunctivitis, constipation, diarrhoea, fever, flatulence, gastralgia, gastritis, insomnia, irritable colon, liver pain, leucorrhoea, mouth ulcer and stomach ache.
Fennel, being rich in phytoestrogens, which mimic the female hormone oestrogen, helps in stimulating and regulating the menstrual cycle. This can have a direct impact on fertility. Studies have shown that various fennel extracts exhibit anti-cancer effects on malignant tumors such as skin, prostate and other cancers.
It also contains mineral and trace elements like aluminum, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, lead, strontium and zinc; fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E and K; water-soluble vitamins like ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pyridoxine; essential amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine and tryptophan. It has antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antinociceptive, antipyretic, antispasmodic, antithrombotic, apoptotic, cardiovascular, chemo modulatory, antitumor, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and memory-enhancing property.
Also, fennel essential oil, distilled from the fennel plant, has been shown to heal wounds, reduce and prevent spasms in the gut. It contains antioxidant and antimicrobial characteristics, aids weight loss, relieves gas and constipation and treats digestive issues.
Great for skin Problems: Regular consumption of fennel seeds provides minerals such as selenium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are crucial to balancing hormones while maintaining the oxygen balance in the bloodstream. In addition, these minerals impart a cooling and soothing effect to the skin, providing it with a healthy glow.
Fennel seeds also offer various ayurvedic properties that help treat skin ailments like rashes and dryness. In addition, applying fennel paste is highly beneficial for the skin as the minerals above are absorbed by the skin, keeping it moist, clean and healthy. Studies also show that fennel seeds have anti-ageing properties. Fennel seed water is a part of many skincare routines. It cleanses clogged pores due to dirt, germs, dead skin cells, grime etc. Fennel water cures acne and pimples owing to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
May have antibacterial properties
May reduce inflammation
May benefit mental health
May relieve menopausal symptoms
Helps improve cognitive performance
Good for the liver
It purifies the blood
Acts as a diuretic
Improves digestive health
Helps lower cholesterol levels
May enhance sleep quality
Combats bad breath
Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Great for weight loss
May have cancer-fighting properties
Can benefit heart health
In a study titled ‘Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) tea drinking suppresssuppress subjective short-term appetite in overweight women’ by JiYoung Bae et al, the conclusion is that drinking FT(fennel tea) and FGT(Fenugreek tea) were significantly effective aid to suppress subjective appetite among overweight women in South Korea.
In a study titled ‘The effect of hydro-alcoholic extract of Foeniculum vulgare Mill on leukocytes and hematological tests in male rats’ by Esrafil Mansouri et al, the conclusion is that fennel by its atypical composition has anti-thrombosis effects.
In a study titled ‘Effects of fennel on pain intensity in dysmenorrhoea: A placebo-controlled trial’ by Shabnam Omidvar et al, regarding the effectiveness of fennel, it can be used to relieve the signs and symptoms significantly on primary dysmenorrhoea.
In a study titled ‘Foeniculum vulgare seed extract exerts anti-cancer effects on hepatocellular carcinoma’ by Weiwei Ke et al, the conclusion is that FVE (Foeniculum Vulgare seed Extract) may be a potential anti-cancer agent that may benefit patients with HCC(hepatocellular carcinoma).
In a study titled ‘Fennel fortified diet: New perspective with regard to fertility and sex hormones’ by Abbas et al, fertility and sex hormones increased in both males and females when given a special diet containing two per cent and four per cent Foeniculum vulgare.
In a study titled ‘Neuroprotective effects of Foeniculum vulgare seeds extract on lead-induced neurotoxicity in mice brain’ by Sheharbano Bhatti et al, the findings highlight the promising therapeutic potential of Foeniculum vulgare to minimise neuronal toxicity.
Though fennel and its seeds are likely safe when eaten in moderation, there are some safety concerns over more concentrated sources of fennel such as extracts and supplements. For example, fennel has strong estrogenic properties, meaning that it acts similarly to the hormone estrogen. While this may help relieve menopausal symptoms, it may be unsafe for pregnant women. It may also interact with certain medications including estrogen pills and certain cancer medications.
People with bleeding disorders must avoid fennel seed consumption as they are known to slow down blood clotting. People with kidney disorders must avoid it because they are high in potassium. Damaged kidneys might find it difficult to filter them and make the condition worse.
You only need to use a teaspoon to 1 tablespoon (about 2 to 6 grams) of dried, whole fennel seeds in most recipes. Crush or grind whole fennel seeds just before you add them to your cooking. This helps to release more of the oil and flavour. Add toasted fennel seeds to dishes to give them a sweet flavour.
Make a simple tea by crushing a spoonful of fennel seeds and pouring hot water over it. Add a tablespoon of the seeds to baked goods. Soak the seeds in water overnight and drink the water on an empty stomach.
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