Fennel is an excellent herb for children with colic and digestive weakness. It enhances digestion and assimilation of food. Fennel is perhaps the mildest and safest drug to relieve abdominal pain, spasms of the gastrointestinal tract, flatulence and gas. Fennel is used as seeds, fennel oil, fennel honey or syrup and as herbal tea preparations. Fennel tea is sweet, warming and moistening with a slightly pungent flavor similar to that of anise seed and licorice. Consult with your physician before taking any supplement to treat medical conditions.
Preparation and Efficacy
To make fennel tea, add one to two teaspoons of immediately crushed fennel seeds in a cup of boiled water. Cover the cup and steep the seeds in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the tea in to another cup for use. In the book ''Healing Herbal Teas'', Brigitte mars, herbalist and a nutritional consultant, suggests a recipe for making a colic tea for babies by using 2 parts catnip herb, 2 parts peppermint herb, 1 part fennel seeds and 1 part chamomile flower. This tea can be consumed by the nursing mother and the baby to relieve colic. In a 2007 study from ''Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics'' by Paula Gardiner, 68 healthy 2- to 8-week-old infants who had colic were administered an herbal tea preparation consisting of German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and balm mint. Each infant was given the tea 150 ml/ dose, three times in a day. Within seven days, 57 percent of the infants showed relief from colic.
ESCOP, a scientific foundation for herbal medicinal products, recommends that for children 0 to 1 years, 1 to 2 teaspoons of crushed or grounded fennel seeds made into a tea, can be given daily. Divide the tea in equal doses and give it three to four times a day or at bouts of colic.
In the U.S., fennel holds a "generally recognized as safe" status. It is freely available as a dietary supplement under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994. Apart from rare cases of allergic reactions, no adverse effects are expected in children. However, preparations other than fennel tea or the herb itself should not be given to small children. Fennel honey and fennel oil should be used for infants only under the supervision of a clinical practitioner.
Diet to Avoid Colic
In the book ''New Medicine-Complete Family Health Guide,'' D.R. Peters suggests some home remedies and diet changes to avoid infant colic. He recommends avoiding cow's milk, as babies may be sensitive to infant formulas based on cow's milk. Switch to infant formulas based on goat's milk or formulas, which have cows milk specially treated to break down the proteins. Breast-fed infants with colic often improve when cow's milk is eliminated from the mother's diet as well. Breastfeeding mothers should also avoid cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onion and chocolate in her diet.