Every spring in my little garden a fennel plant pushes it's way through the soil and starts producing fine feathery leaves. Before the mints and the feverfew show themselves the fennel has already produced plenty of new growth.
(India's ancient natural medical science) calls fennel: madhurika
which means "the sweet one". All parts of the fennel plant can be used, the leaves, seeds and the bulb. Fennel tastes similar to aniseed and liqorice, in fact, it is often used as the flavouring in liqorice sweets.
Fennel has been used for centuries as a remedy for colic in babies. But that's just one of the ways you can use this safe and gentle herb.
Five Healing Uses for Sweet Fennel:
1. Healthy Digestion
: Fennel is famous for it's digestive benefits. Try chewing a teaspoon of toasted fennel seeds after dinner to prevent indigestion or acid reflux. For a delicious home-made infusion try blending a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds with a sprig of fresh mint (or a tablespoonful of dried leaves) and a couple of slices of ginger and sip after meals.
Fennel seeds contain a compound known as anethole, which ihas been shown to reduce spasms of the stomach or GI tract; so it's an ideal natural remedy for acid reflux. In Germany, fennel tea is licensed as a remedy for dyspepsia. And it's leaves and roots when boiled in a decoction are considered an effective antidote for food poisoning.
2. Bladder infections
: Fennel is a diuretic herb with the ability to soothe excess heat and irritation. Fennel tea is recommended for relief from cystitis, or any inflammatory condition of the digestive tract. Adding a teaspoon of coriander seeds will increase the benefit.
3. Cough Relief
: Fennel tea with a little raw honey helps clear congestion and soothe irritating coughs. It's a gentle herb for children, and since it tastes sweet and aniseedy they are usually happy to try it.
For a potent cough relieving brew, try adding 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds to a pint of water in a pan, add a tablespoonful of grated ginger and a whole cinnamon quill. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain into a cup and let it cool for bit before adding the honey.
4. Cramps: Fennel has a relaxing effect on all muscles in the body, it can help relieve menstrual cramps, adult colicky pain and muscular spasms, like restless legs. For extra benefit, sip some fennel tea then take a warm bath with a cup of epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil.
: Fennel increases the flow of milk in lactating mothers. When a breastfeeding Mum drinks fennel tea they can produce plenty of easy to digest milk that helps prevent colic in their baby because some of the fennel they drink gets passed into their milk.
Fennel tea is available in most grocery, or health food stores, but it's just as easy (and more cost effective) to make your own by buying a pack of fennel seeds and adding to hot water when required. I like making my own blends with fennel. It goes nicely with roibos tea with a little raw honey, and green tea with mint and fennel is delicous. On hot summer days, try it cool with a sprig of fresh mint.
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