The Top 12 Fennel Tea Health Benefits — What Is Fennel Seed Tea Good For?
Fennel seeds, and particularly fennel tea, are important natural remedies that have been used safely for many thousands of years in Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Western medicinal traditions.
Aside from its value in cooking as a spice, the seeds from the fennel plant have been commonly taken as a herbal treatment to reduce intestinal gas, aid digestion, fight inflammation and cure menstrual cramps and colic in babies.
Fennel seeds, with their potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, have many other beneficial effects and can help protect against a variety of health conditions and serious diseases.
The easiest way to add fennel seeds into your diet is by sipping on a warm cup of great tasting fennel tea, particularly just before or during a meal using the special recipe ahead.
Here are 12 important health benefits of drinking fennel tea regularly, the best kind to use, preparation and dosage instructions and potential side effects to be aware of.
Also ahead, how fennel seed tea can help with weight loss, improve sleep, alleviate arthritic pain and lower blood pressure, plus fennel water vs fennel tea and which one is better for you.
What is Fennel Tea?
Fennel seed tea is prepared from crushed or ground mature fennel seeds, steeped and brewed in very hot water for at least several minutes. To make a strong fennel tea it’s recommended to pour almost boiling water into a cup, cover it and leave the seeds or fennel tea bag brewing in it for 10 to 15 minutes.
The seeds from the fennel plant are rich in potent volatile oil compounds like anethole, fenchone, limonene, myrcene, pinene, chavicol, cineole and estragole that are responsible for its antispasmodic, calmative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
The effectiveness of any fennel tea you drink will largely depend on the concentration of these volatile oils that the seeds contain, which testing shows can vary significantly depending on growing conditions.
After researching the best brands of fennel tea, I found this medicinal strength Heather’s Tummy tea on Amazon to have the strongest volatile oil levels on the market. It’s the one I use in my kitchen and is highly recommended.
The Top 12 Health Benefits of Fennel Tea
Here’s just what fennel tea is good for, how it can treat gastrointestinal problems like bloating, IBS and flatulence, as well as health conditions like hypertension, arthritis, skin problems and even help you to lose weight if you drink it often.
1. Reduce Gas and Bloating
Many people report that drinking fennel tea regularly lessens their incidence of both bloating and flatulence and it is a very popular natural cure for excessive gas. Volatile oils like anethole are primarily responsible for this beneficial effect on your digestive system.
These compounds have a calmative effect and help relax the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. This action assists in releasing trapped gases, thus reducing stomach cramps, bloating and abdominal pain and preventing a buildup of bad gas.
As digesting food passes through your system more easily, there is much less chance of it fermenting and putrefying in the large intestine and creating noxious compounds like hydrogen sulphide (the classic rotten egg gas).
If you experience bloating and intestinal cramps regularly then try drinking a warm cup of fennel seed tea just before a meal, particularly if it contains problematic gas-forming foods like dairy, beans, cruciferous vegetables or processed meats.
Drinking fennel tea can also be a very effective preventative against flatulence, especially for those really smelly farts that result from undigested protein getting stuck in your colon due to poor digestion.
2. Using Fennel Tea for IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition involving the large intestine that affects many people, especially women. Symptoms vary but often include severe abdominal pain, regular bloating and stomach cramps, problematic bowel movements and excessive gas.
Fennel tea has been shown to be a premier treatment for IBS. The powerful volatile oils in it first help increase the production of gastric juices to get digestion started properly.
These same compounds then assist in regulating the contractions of the intestines, relieving intestinal cramps, abdominal spasms and trapped stomach gas, all common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Strong fennel tea can even help treat a spastic colon and alternating constipation and diarrhea in serious cases of IBS. People suffering from Crohn’s disease, colitis and diverticulitis may also benefit from fennel tea, though it’s recommended to discuss drinking it regularly with your doctor first.
Since the volatile oils in the fennel seeds directly impact its effectiveness in treating IBS and other digestive issues and disorders, it’s well worth looking for a tea made from seeds with a high volatile oil content.
The best fennel tea I’ve found is this great tasting Heather’s Tummy Tea, made especially strong for treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Even if you don’t suffer from IBS, this same potency means it will be more effective than regular weaker fennel seed teas for all of the health benefits listed here.
3. Weight Loss
There are four ways that drinking fennel tea can help you lose weight — minimizing water retention, improving digestion, lowering blood sugar and reducing hunger.
The first of these, flushing out excess fluids your body is retaining, can work quite quickly, while the others will take time and require regular use but will also provide more long term benefits.
Fennel seeds are considered a diuretic, which means they help your body increase its production of waste fluids. When your body is retaining extra water it can make you look heavy and bloated.
Fennel tea is especially recommended for women with water retention due to menstruation and can even help reduce belly cramping during painful periods.
As covered earlier, drinking fennel seed tea can improve digestive function and elimination. With better nutrient absorption your body tends to have fewer cravings for sugary food. Preventing constipation is also highly beneficial for weight loss.
As an added benefit, fennel tea is known to help prevent acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion and other symptoms of GERD due to it’s calmative properties. For best results drink it just before a meal that you think may give you acid reflux or indigestion.
Lowering Blood Sugar
Several animal studies have shown that the essential oil of Foeniculum vulgare (fennel oil) helped to significantly lower blood sugar. In high doses, the oils in fennel seeds were even shown in research to have an anti-diabetic effect.
In fact, fennel tea and chewing on the seeds is often recommended for people with diabetes to regulate their blood glucose levels. Talk to your doctor first if you are diabetic but know that anything that helps regulate high blood sugar can also be beneficial for losing weight.
Controlling your appetite, particularly for sugary foods, is an important factor in lowering body fat and preventing obesity. Even here drinking fennel tea regularly can help you reach your ideal weight.
This study showed drinking fennel seed tea helped overweight women with appetite control and improved satiety. The researchers identified the volatile oil anethole in fennel seeds as the likely cause of this beneficial effect.
By flushing away water retention, improving digestive function, moderating blood sugar and reducing hunger, fennel tea does appear to be a multifaceted natural aid to weight loss.
If you’d like to try it for yourself I’d highly recommend using this medicinal strength Heather’s Tummy Tea I have in my kitchen. It tastes great and is particularly high in volatile oils like anethole identified as having digestion and weight loss benefits.
4. Antioxidant and Anti-Cancer Properties
Fennel seeds and their potent volatile oils, like anethole, estragole, limonene, myrcene and fenchone, have been identified as having highly effective antioxidant actions.
By combating free radical damage within your body, drinking fennel tea regularly could help lower your risk of serious illness like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as reduce the visible signs of aging.
This meta-review of studies found fennel has “antioxidant, anti-cancer activity, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial effects” and “possesses pharmacological properties and… bioactive
molecules that play an important role in human health”.
5. Reduces Inflammation and Benefits Arthritis
The volatile oil anethole has been shown in research to inhibit TNF (tumor necrosis factor) mediated signaling. This prevents activation of the inflammation-triggering and potentially cancer-causing molecule known as NF-kappaB.
By shutting down the NF-kappaB molecule, the anethole in fennel seed tea can be an effective aid for sufferers of inflammatory diseases, particularly arthritis.
Since inflammation is also a primary cause of so many other health conditions, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies and even skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, anethole could have wide-ranging health benefits for many people.
Additionally, fennel seed analysis has shown that it contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids like quercetin, apigenin, kaempferol and rutin and beneficial phenolic compounds like chlorogenic acid. Even more good reasons for people suffering from arthritic joint pain to drink fennel tea often.
6. Skin and Eye Health
The same antioxidant properties and inflammation combating compounds in fennel tea are likely responsible for its skin benefits and positive effects on eye health.
According to Ayurvedic tradition, fennel seeds are beneficial for weak eyesight and it has also been used in an eyewash as a treatment for glaucoma and conjunctivitis.
The hormonal balancing properties of fennel seed tea can help with acne whilst other skin disorders benefit from its strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.
The high antioxidant content of fennel seeds can even combat the visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and sagging skin, caused by free radical damage. All in all, there are many different ways drinking fennel tea can help you to maintain a healthy appearance.
7. Fennel Tea Lowers Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure can damage your cardiovascular system and lead to many health problems. Lowering your blood pressure is particularly important if you are already diabetic or at risk of heart disease.
Chewing fennel seeds has been shown to enhance the nitrite concentration of saliva and lead to vasorelaxation and lower blood pressure. Drinking fennel tea would be likely to have a similar, if perhaps less pronounced effect, as eating the seeds.
Consult your doctor if you are being treated for hypertension with drugs as this side effect of fennel tea consumption could cause complications.
8. Better Sleep
Fennel seeds are a good source of the sleep hormone melatonin with analysis showing 28 ng per gram of dried seeds. Given this, a strong cup of fennel seed tea with dinner would not only help prevent digestive problems, it could also help you get to sleep more easily.
In fact, since proper rest is also associated with effective weight loss, lower blood pressure and overall good health, fennel seeds sleep-enhancing properties may well be an underappreciated benefit of this wonderful natural remedy.
9. Fennel Tea Benefits for a Sore Throat and Cold
The antiviral and antibacterial properties of fennel tea help soothe a sore throat and can even assist with an ongoing cough, cold or other respiratory problems.
The herb is considered a mild expectorant that breaks down phlegm and mucus so drinking it during a cold might help lessen its severity. For a sore throat you can gargle warm fennel tea for best results.
10. Breath Freshener
Fennel seeds are commonly chewed after a meal on the Indian subcontinent to freshen the breath. Fennel essential oil is so good at breath freshening it is even added to commercial mouthwash and toothpaste.
Once again, chewing fennel seeds is likely to provide better effects than drinking the tea, though swirling around a mouthful should still help sweeten your breath after eating.
11. Natural Remedy for Colic in Babies
Weak fennel seed tea is a common cure for colic symptoms in babies and infants up to 4 months and can be a huge relief for both baby and parents alike.
A colicky baby has trapped and painful gas and often no amount of breastfeeding or soothing the infant will stop them crying. It’s estimated that up to 40% of babies experience colic, some so regularly it can be difficult for their parents to get any sleep.
Dicyclomine hydrochloride, the drug based treatment for infantile colic is a risky proposition with 5% of infants treated with it developing serious side effects. This study showed a fennel seed oil emulsion eliminated colic in 65% of babies without reported side effects.
Fennel tea is usually brewed at half strength or weaker when used as a treatment for colicky babies. 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds made into a tea is the suggested dose.
Obviously it should be cooled to a safe temperature and taken slowly. Rocking the child after taking the tea can also help expel the trapped gases.
As a precaution, please discuss using fennel tea for a colicky baby with your obstetrician or GP. In very rare cases some people and babies have an allergy to fennel, usually when an allergic reaction to members of the carrot family has also been noted.
Also, fennel tea with honey is a popular way to use this herbal preparation but there is a warning against infants consuming honey since their digestive systems are not ready for it. I don’t recommend sweetening your fennel seed tea with honey anyway but definitely don’t use it with babies.
12. Menstrual Cramps
As already covered, fennel tea can help reduce water retention during a woman’s period. It is also often recommended as a natural remedy for painful menstrual cramps and PMS.
In fact, a study comparing fennel extract for dysmenorrhoea to the drug mefenamic acid found that the herbal treatment performed even better than the pharmaceutical drug for relief from painful periods.
The calmative and antispasmodic properties of fennel seed volatile oils work to relax muscles in the uterus and alleviate contractions and cramping. Make up a strong cup of fennel seed tea as soon as you feel the symptoms of PMS and have several cups a day for relief from period pain.
How to Make Fennel Seed Tea at Home
While fennel tea bags are convenient, for cost effectiveness a bag of loose organic fennel seeds is hard to beat. Here’s how to make delicious homemade fennel tea with all of the health benefits listed above:
- Get a bag of fresh fennel seeds, preferably organic ones with a strong volatile oil content like these that I use.
- Crush up 1 to 2 tablespoons of the seeds with a mortar and pestle or back of a spoon.
- Put the crushed seeds in a large mug and pour a cup of very hot, but not boiling, water over them (turn the kettle off before just before it boils). If you don’t like the seeds loose you can use a tea infuser.
- Cover the cup with a plate to keep the heat in and the volatile oils from evaporating and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy just before or during a meal for best results. If you must sweeten the tea I recommend stevia over sugar or honey for the healthiest option.
If you prefer the convenience of tea bags these medicinal strength fennel tea bags are the most potent available. From the many positive comments, most people seem to really enjoy the taste as well.
They are particularly good for digestive problems like abdominal bloating, bad gas pain, stomach cramps and IBS. Compared to weaker teas, they will also be much more effective for all of the other health benefits listed above.
When to Drink Fennel Tea for Best Results
While you can use fennel tea as a natural remedy whenever you experience uncomfortable bloating, intestinal cramps or excessive gas, it can be even more effective if taken before a meal.
If you know you are going to be eating certain foods that could give you digestive troubles, try sipping on a warm cup of fennel seed tea just before or even during the meal.
By ingesting the volatile oils in fennel before you eat you can preventively relax your intestinal tract that might otherwise react to the lactose in dairy, sorbitol in fruits or other potential digestion disruptors.
You’ll also be be receiving some serious fennel tea health benefits if you choose to drink this beverage with your meal, especially compared to acidic soda or other sugar laden drinks.
Having fennel seed tea just before or during a meal can even help reduce hunger, improve nutrient absorption, lower blood sugar and aid in losing weight. Surely it’s a much better choice than fattening soda or fruit juice.
Fennel Water vs Fennel Tea
Some resources recommend overnight steeping of fennel seeds in cold water, something they call fennel seed water, though this isn’t the best way to get the health benefits of fennel in my opinion.
It’s generally understood that the important volatile oils in the seeds, like anethole, fenchone and estragole, require heat to be released into the water they are in. Even with overnight steeping in the fridge, I doubt fennel water would be as effective as regular fennel tea.
Some resources alternatively suggest brewing a large batch of fennel seeds in a saucepan of boiling water for a long period and keeping the resulting liquid to drink for several days.
Once again, this recipe for fennel water is unlikely to be as potent as freshly brewed fennel seed tea as the volatile oils would probably evaporate or degrade over time.
Fennel water sounds like extra work for fewer health benefits so I’d recommend brewing up a strong cup of fresh fennel seeds every time you want to enjoy fennel tea. It only takes a minute and will provide far more beneficial effects than any fennel seed water recipe.
Fennel Tea Benefits in Summary
- An effective calmative that helps release trapped gases responsible for bloating and excessive gas.
- Fennel tea is a premier treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- A mild diuretic that can help flush excess water and toxins out of your body.
- Colic in babies can be treated naturally with weak fennel tea.
- Natural remedy for women with menstrual cramps and period pain.
- Fennel seeds are high in antioxidants, providing extra protection for your body against free radical cellular damage.
- The health benefits of fennel tea include anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit people suffering from joint pain and arthritis.
- Drinking this herbal tea can help ease a sore throat, reduce a fever and loosen phlegm from your respiratory system.
- Fennel seed tea can lower blood pressure naturally. While this is generally a good thing, keep this in mind and discuss with your doctor if you are using high blood pressure medication.
- Fennel seeds are an appetite suppressant and metabolism booster and drinking fennel tea regularly may help with losing weight.
- The seeds are a great breath freshener. You can either chew them after a meal or drink a strong fennel tea for the same effect.
- Fennel is known as an immune system enhancer and many people report an improved sense of relaxation and well-being when they drink it often.
Side Effects and Precautions
There have been very few side effects reported with this herb. In fact, it is so safe that weak fennel seed tea is often given to babies as a treatment for colic. Even so, here are a few reported side effects of fennel tea:
- It is suggested to talk to your doctor before drinking the tea regularly if you are being treated for breast or ovarian cancer due to a possible (but unproven) mild estrogenic effect.
- Medical resources don’t recommend drinking large amounts of fennel tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. That said, fennel seeds are often suggested in traditional medicine for improving breast milk production. Discuss this with your obstetrician if you are considering using fennel tea while breastfeeding.
- People with bleeding disorders like hemophilia should avoid fennel seeds as compounds in them it might affect blood clotting.
- This herbal tea is also not recommended for people prone to seizures or taking seizure medication.
- Due to a mild lowering effect on blood pressure, drinking fennel seed tea should be discussed with a doctor by people taking blood pressure medication.
- Very rarely, allergic reactions to the fennel herb, such as skin rashes, have been observed, particularly in people with an allergy to carrots or celery.
What is Fennel Tea Good For?
I hope this detailed look at fennel tea benefits and its many wellness-enhancing properties has inspired you to give it a try. Used regularly, this herbal tea and natural cure can have a positive effect on a wide variety of digestive problems and health conditions.
Whether it’s as a weight loss aid, bad gas and IBS treatment, PMS or colic remedy, joint pain fighter, breath freshener, sleep promoter or antioxidant rich preventative against serious disease, fennel seed tea is one of nature’s best medicines.
For the most effective results use this high volatile oil Heather’s Tummy Tea. It’s the one I have in my kitchen and tastes and smells great when you brew up a warm cup just before a meal.
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Photo 1: svetlanaya / Photo 2: zoyachubby / Photo 3: Kailash Gyawali
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