9 Benefits of Fennel Tea, Side Effects and Best Time to Drink It
Fennel tea is potent natural remedy that has been used safely for centuries in both Eastern and Western healing traditions.
Aside from its value in cooking as a spice, the seeds from the fennel plant are commonly taken to reduce intestinal gas, aid digestion, fight inflammation, improve eyesight, treat skin conditions, and cure menstrual cramps.
Fennel seeds, with their potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, have many other beneficial effects and can help with a wide variety of health issues.
The easiest way use this herbal treatment is by sipping on a warm cup of fennel tea, particularly just before or during a meal, using the special recipe ahead.
Here are 10 benefits of drinking fennel tea regularly, the best kind to use, preparation and dosage instructions, and potential side effects to be aware of.
What is Fennel Tea?
Fennel tea is prepared from crushed or ground mature fennel seeds, steeped and brewed in very hot water.
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 minutes before drinking it.
The seeds from the fennel plant are rich in potent volatile oils like anethole, fenchone and estragole. These compounds are responsible for its antispasmodic, calmative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
The effectiveness of any fennel seed tea you drink will largely depend on the concentration of these volatile oils, 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. It has the strongest volatile oil levels on the market and is the one I use in my kitchen.
9 Benefits of Fennel Seed Tea
Here’s why tea made from fennel seeds is so good for gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, flatulence, IBS and diarrhea. As well as many different conditions like arthritis, hypertension, skin disorders and menstrual cramps.
It can even soothe a sore throat, treat respiratory problems, freshen your breath, and help you get to sleep at night.
1. Reduces Gas and Bloating
Drinking fennel tea is a quick and effective natural remedy for belly bloating and excessive flatulence. Volatile oils in the seeds, like anethole and fenchone, are primarily responsible for this beneficial effect on your digestive system.
These compounds have a calmative effect and relax the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. This action assists in releasing trapped gases, thus reducing cramps, bloating and abdominal pain, and preventing a buildup of intestinal gas.
As digesting food passes through your system more easily, there is much less chance of it fermenting or putrefying in the colon and creating noxious compounds like hydrogen sulfide (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. This is particularly helpful 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 poorly digested protein in your digestive tract.
2. Using Fennel Tea for IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a debilitating condition involving the large intestine that affects many people, especially women. Symptoms vary, but often include severe abdominal pain, regular bloating, problematic bowel movements and excessive gas.
Fennel tea has been shown to be a premier treatment for IBS. The potent 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 IBS issues.
Strongly brewed fennel seed tea can even help treat a spastic colon, and alternating constipation and diarrhea in serious cases of IBS.
People suffering from Crohn’s, colitis and diverticulitis may also benefit from fennel tea, though it’s recommended to discuss drinking it regularly with your GP first.
Since the volatile oils in fennel seed tea directly impact its effectiveness in treating IBS, it’s well worth looking for a brand made from seeds with an extra 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 brand’s potency means it will be far more effective than weaker teas for all of the beneficial effects listed here.
3. Antioxidant 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 many serious conditions, as well as reduce the visible signs of aging.
This meta-review of studies found fennel has “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial effects” and “possesses pharmacological properties and… bioactive molecules that play an important role in human health”.
4. 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 NF-kappaB molecule.
By shutting down NF-kappaB, the anethole in fennel seed tea can be an effective aid for sufferers of inflammatory conditions, like joint pain and arthritis.
Additionally, fennel seed analysis has shown that it contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin and kaempferol. More good reasons for people suffering from arthritic joint pain to drink fennel tea regularly.
5. Skin and Eye Health
The same antioxidant properties and inflammation combating compounds in fennel tea are responsible for its skin benefits and positive effects on eye health.
According to Ayurvedic tradition, fennel seeds are beneficial for weak eyesight and it’s also used in Ayurveda as an eyewash for glaucoma and conjunctivitis.
The hormonal-balancing effects 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 this herb can even combat skin aging caused by free radical damage. Drinking it regularly, especially instead of digestion damaging coffee, can help maintain a healthy appearance.
6. Better Sleep
Fennel seeds are a good source of sleep hormones. 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.
Getting enough sleep is essential for wellness and well-being. The sleep-enhancing properties of fennel are another underappreciated benefit of this versatile herbal treatment.
7. Natural Remedy for a Sore Throat and Respiratory Conditions
The antiviral and antibacterial properties of fennel help soothe a sore throat. It can also assist with other respiratory problems, such as coughing and a blocked nose.
The herb is considered a mild expectorant that breaks down phlegm and mucus, so drinking it during a cold or flu may help lessen its severity. For a sore throat you can gargle warm fennel tea for best results.
8. 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.
Chewing fennel seeds is even more effective than drinking the tea, though swirling around a mouthful will still sweeten your breath after eating.
9. Menstrual Cramps
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.
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 natural 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 benefits listed above:
- Get a bag of dried fennel seeds, preferably organic ones with a strong volatile oil content, like this highly recommended brand 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 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 around 10 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 tea bags are the most potent available. From the many positive comments, most customers 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 a much more effective treatment for all of the conditions listed above.
When to Drink Fennel Tea for Best Results
While you can use fennel tea as a fast acting remedy whenever you experience uncomfortable bloating, intestinal cramps or excessive gas, it’s 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 the tea just before your meal.
By ingesting the volatile oils in fennel before you eat, you can help prevent a negative reaction in your gut to digestion disruptors, like lactose, gluten, raffinose in beans, and diarrhea causing sugar alcohols in processed foods.
Having fennel seed tea prior to a meal can even help reduce hunger, improve nutrient absorption and aid in losing weight. Surely it’s a much better choice than fattening acidic soda or sugary fruit juice.
Fennel 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 menstrual cramps and period pain.
- Seeds of the fennel plant are high in antioxidants, providing extra protection for your body against free radical cellular damage.
- Fennel tea has anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit people suffering from joint pain and arthritis.
- Drinking this herbal tea eases a sore throat and loosens phlegm from your respiratory system.
- Fennel is an appetite suppressant and metabolism booster and drinking the 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 wellbeing when they drink it often.
Side Effects and Precautions
There have been very few side effects reported with this herb. In fact, it’s so safe that weak fennel seed tea is often given to babies as a treatment for colic.
Even so, here are a few potential precautions and side effects of fennel tea:
- Official resources don’t recommend drinking large amounts of fennel tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. That said, the herb is often suggested in traditional treatment for improving breast milk production. Discuss this with your obstetrician before using it.
- People with bleeding disorders should avoid fennel seeds as compounds in them it might affect clotting.
- This herbal tea is also not recommended for people prone to seizures or taking seizure meds.
- Discuss drinking fennel seed tea with your GP first if being treated for hypertension.
- 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 all of these fennel tea benefits have inspired you to give it a try or drink it more often. Used regularly, this potent natural remedy can have a positive effect on a wide variety of digestive problems and health conditions.
Whether for bloating or bad gas, as an IBS treatment, joint pain fighter, breath freshener, sleep promoter, or antioxidant rich preventative, fennel seed tea is one of nature’s best medicinal herbs.
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 great brewed up and sipped, just before or during a meal.