Fennel, a plant that is known as an herb, a veggie and a spice- ooohhh how nice!
This plant has been on my mind a lot lately as I have several clients who are trying to improve their gut health and this beautiful guy is perfect for that and more. It’s not very popular in the US but I’m hoping that changes as more and more people try it for themselves. It’s my son’s favorite herb so we always have it on hand. He grew up eating Indian food at Sitar, it was his favorite restaurant. In fact we took him there for his first birthday, but anyway he always loved the fennel seeds you can get when you leave. His carseat used to be full of them.
Perhaps what fennel is most known for in the healing world is it’s ability to calm a colicky baby and if you’ve ever experienced a colicky baby you would gladly pay a king's ransom to get some help. One study of 125 babies with diagnosed colic were divided into 2 groups, one with a placebo and the other with fennel. The fennel eliminated colic in 65 % of the babies and reduced it in the other 35 %.
Fennel is both anti inflammatory and high in antioxidants with some studies showing it to be more powerful that the often touted Vitamin E. Oxidation and inflammation are the undynamic duo that cause pretty much all chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Fennel gets studied often because it is such a powerful ally and it’s tasty, not a common combo. Researchers in India have been leading studies on it’s effects on Alzheimer’s and dementia and have proven that Fennel seeds consumed long term “profoundly” boosted the brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is what drugs created to help with cognitive disorders do with no side effects.
Researchers in Morocco found that fennel lowered systolic blood pressure and prevented platelet aggregation, both of which are key reasons behind strokes, embolisms and heart attacks without the side effects of aspirin. Most type 2 diabetics, heart patients and people recovering from strokes are encouraged or required to take aspirin daily despite the recent side effects coming to light. I’d love to see fennel as a replacement offered in the medical community.
I use fennel seed often to help ease flatulence or stomach upset in clients, such as IBS, candida, heart burn, esophagitis, diarrhea, flu bugs, or just nervous stomach. It can be mixed with rosemary and activated charcoal for food poisoning and it’s safe for babies and has little recorded contra indication.
Fennel seeds, once dried keep for up to 3 years in a dry place with no excess heat or light. The fronds are definitely more delicate and should be eaten first, while the bulb will keep for about a week in the fridge. Much longer than that and it looses it’s potency and starts to shrivel. Fennel is super easy to add to your diet.
The fronds can be diced and added to salads, put on a sandwich or turned into a tea. I like the fronds sprinkled in chicken salad or even a fruit salad is good. The bulb is fantastic roasted with other veggies. You can eat it in it’s whole form here or puree all the veg and make a creamed soup. It pairs really well with apples, any root veg, or onions. Try it in your veggies cooked on a chicken or pot roast. The seeds can be added to bread doughs, pasta sauces, muffins, scrambled eggs or made into a tea.
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.