Fennel is a highly aromatic herb, the seeds of which are commonly used as spices and in a variety of culinary and medicinal applications. Tea made by steeping fennel seeds in hot water is enjoyable for pleasure, but this preparation is also regarded in natural medicine as having distinct health benefits. Some of these benefits are based on anecdotal evidence as opposed to clinical research, and fennel seed tea is not to be considered a substitute for medicine. It is important to consult your physician before beginning a medicinal tea regimen.
According to "Prescription for Herbal Healing" by Phyllis A. Balch, fennel seed tea has a carminative effect on the digestive system, relieving intestinal gas without encouraging flatulence. It can soothe the muscles that line the digestive tract, making digestion more effective, as well as kill harmful bacteria and reduce stomach spasms. "The Herbal Kitchen" by Kami McBride and Rosemary Gladstar recommends fennel seed tea to help digest large meals. You may also be able to soothe an infant's irritable digestive tract by giving a small amount of diluted, cooled fennel tea as a drink, according to "Essential Herbal Wisdom: A Complete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs" by Nancy Arrowsmith.
Breast Milk Enhancer
According to "The Aromatherapy Book: Applications and Inhalations" by Jeanne Rose, fennel seed tea may increase lactation among breast-feeding women, particularly first-time mothers. Diluted fennel seed essential oil may have a similar effect. Balch suggests that drinking fennel tea while nursing may also soothe an infant's colic, and McBride and Gladstar liken this effect to that of a similar steeped beverage called "gripe water." An old home remedy, gripe water consists of fennel seeds, chamomile and ginger steeped in apple cider vinegar. This soothing concoction can be consumed by nursing mothers or fed to infants with an eye dropper. Before consuming fennel seed tea, talk with your doctor or pediatrician.
Fennel seed tea may also increase the rate of urination through its natural diuretic effects, according to a study published in "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" in 2007. The study identified Foeniculum vulgare, the technical genus and species of the fennel plant, among the botanicals with the most promising diuretic properties. In addition to increasing the rate of urination, fennel seed tea may also increase the excretion of sodium via urination, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- "The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family"; Kami McBride, Rosemary Gladstar; 2010
- "Essential Herbal Wisdom: A Complete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs"; Nancy Arrowsmith; 2009
- "The Aromatherapy Book: Applications and Inhalations"; Jeanne Rose; 1992
- ScienceDirect: Herbal Medicines as Diuretics -- A Review of the Scientific Evidence