Fennel seeds contain dozens of health-boosting vitamins and minerals, and can be used for medicinal purposes, in cooking and even as a snack.
Studies show that drinking fennel seed tea has numerous health benefits including
- weight loss
- relief from PMS and menstrual cramp
- healthier skin
- improved heart health
It is also one of the few herbal teas that can be safely consumed by pregnant women.
Have we got your interest? Great!
Let’s take a look at how fennel seed tea can improve your health.
The fennel seeds
Bitter fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), one of the many types of fennel, originated in the Mediterranean area of Europe.
You might guess by looking at the plant’s light, feathery leaves that it is related to carrots and dill.
It has bright yellow flowers which grow in small circular clusters at the ends of thin stalks.
- The seeds, which are actually the fruit of the plant, range from greenish brown to yellowish brown; each is about 6mm long with five prominent longitudinal ridges.
Fennel seeds contain 3-4 % essential oil, of which the main two are anethole and fenchone.
They have a slightly sweet, although strong aniseed, or liquorice, taste.
As such, they are used for scenting soaps and perfumes, flavouring lollies, liqueurs, medicines and foods such as fish.
Fennel seeds are rich in
- vitamins A and C
- But 0% cholesterol!!
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds provides 2 grams of fibre – compared to a whole apple which provides 3-4 grams.
Fennel seeds are produced by the fennel plant and are greenish to yellowish brown with longitudinal ridges. They have a strong aniseed, or liquorice flavour and are used to scent soaps and flavour dishes, especially Indian dishes. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Can benefit women’s health
The oils contained in fennel seeds have mild, oestrogen-like qualities.
- The Chinese used them in traditional medicine to treat hormone issues such as amenorrhea – the absence of menstruation in a female of child-bearing age.
Not only are these oils oestrogen-like, but they can actually stimulate the production of oestrogen.
This has the effect of relieving PMS, menstrual cramps, as well as menopausal symptoms.
As the seeds contain anethole, an organic compound responsible for the aniseed flavour, fennel seed tea has health benefits as a general tonic to help protect the female reproductive system.
With regards to pregnant women, fennel seed tea may help fight nausea and morning sickness, common in the first trimester.
It also stimulates the production and flow of milk in lactating women.
- The famous Greek doctor, Hippocrates (430 – 370 BC) even recommended fennel to wet nurses to increase their milk supply.
The oil in fennel seeds, is a galactagogue – a substance that increases breast milk.
There some studies that have discovered this fennel seed oil may increase levels of prolactin.
Prolactin is the main hormone responsible for stimulating milk production, increasing milk volume and therefore infant weight gain.
Fennel seeds have an anti-flatulence property which relaxes intestinal muscles and therefore provide some relief from indigestion and bloating.
Are there any risks at all?
- There is some risk in drinking fennel seed tea due to the fact that the seeds also possess emmenagogue properties.
What this means is it stimulates blood flow around the pelvic area and uterus, possibly stimulating menstruation.
Unfortunately, this can lead to miscarriage.
If pregnant, speak with your doctor, and don’t drink more than 2-3 cups of fennel seed tea per day.
Candida (thrush) is a fungal infection of the mouth or vagina.
- Another health benefit of fennel seeds is the fact they contain antioxidants as well as antibacterial and antifungal qualities.
These bio-compounds can be effective against E. coli and Candida albicans – both of which cause candida.
Fennel seed tea has enormous health benefits for women. As an everyday drink it can relieve PMS, menstrual cramps, as well as the symptoms of menopause. But for pregnant and lactating women, it has the further benefits of fighting nausea and morning sickness, while additionally increasing the production and quality of breast milk. There is a risk of miscarriage so it is best to check with your doctor before drinking it. Fennel seed tea may also be helpful against candida.
Could promote weight loss
Regular consumption of fennel seed tea has weight loss benefits.
While it doesn’t have the fat burning properties of green tea, fennel seed tea aids in weight loss in other ways.
In 2015, 9 healthy, middle-aged South Korean women were given either fennel seed tea, fenugreek tea or a placebo beverage before being given a buffet lunch.
- The women who drank the fennel seed tea (and the fenugreek tea) had less hunger, ate much less, and felt fuller than the women who had drunk the placebo.
Fennel seed tea aids in digestion, assisting the stomach to digest food more efficiently.
This helps keep you sated and eliminates the need for snacking in between meals.
Fennel seed tea can also suppresses the appetite, as we saw in the case of the 2015 Korean experiment.
Furthermore, it helps the circulatory system remove waste products from our body.
An Iranian study
- Another experiment that demonstrates the appetite-supressing abilities of this tea is a 2014 Iranian study. Participants given fennel seeds showed a significant decrease in weight gain and food intake rates when compared to the control group.
This lead the researchers to conclude that the seeds are useful to humans for certain applications such as weight control.
Makes sense that next time you feel peckish, have a mug of fennel seed tea instead of a sugary snack.
Those hunger pangs will disappear and you will have saved yourself from those extra, unnecessary calories.
In laboratory experiments, fennel seeds have been shown to suppress the appetite and decrease the amount of food eaten, having the obvious result of weight loss. Furthermore, participants in these experiments didn’t feel hungry, but were actually satisfied with smaller portions of food.
Might promote clear, healthy skin
This particular tea is helpful in treating skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.
The reason is the essential oils they contain such as anethole and limonene, which reduce inflammation.
Another essential oil they contain is chavicol.
This is an antimicrobial compound that can kill germs and assist prevent skin infections.
As we all know, sleep is very important for our skin.
That means fennel seed tea is an ideal tea to sip before heading off to bed.
- It contains melatonin, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland and is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Therefore, an even better time to have a nice cup of this tea is shortly after dinner.
That way it will help you digest your meal and relax your body, ready for a good night’s sleep.
Another benefit of fennel seed tea is that it can be used as a cleanser.
- It contains properties that can remove excess sebum (oil produced by the body) and unclog the grime in your pores.
And all the while it is toning your skin!
The phytoestrogens in the seeds are responsible for improving skin tone, as well as utilising their beneficial anti-aging properties.
Create a cleansing facial mask by adding some strong fennel seed tea to some honey and oatmeal.
Alternatively, apply the tea directly to your skin to nourish and moisturize skin cells – keeping your skin supple and soft.
As mentioned previously, fennel seed tea is a diuretic and aids in detoxifying the body.
- This tea, like other herbal brews, contains antioxidants that fight free radicals.
Free radicals damage cells and tissue.
Apart from leading to signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, they can also cause diseases like cancer.
In this way, fennel seed tea protects the skin from premature aging.
The fewer toxins in our body = the better our skin looks.
Fennel seed tea has great benefits to our largest organ – our skin. It can be drunk to help flush toxins out of our body, and to help provide a better night’s sleep. The tea can also be used externally as a facial cleanser and toner, or face mask.
May help fight infections
These days there seems to be bugs and germs all over the place.
Luckily, science is helping by providing ever-growing amounts of information about how we can protect ourselves.
- In a review of research into the properties of fennel seeds, researchers found that fennel seeds are antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and have anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2014 study regarding the effect of fennel seed oil on various bacteria showed the components exhibited antibacterial activity against:
- Staphylococcus albus,
- Bacillus subtilis
- Salmonella typhimurium
- Shigella dysenteriae
- Escherichia coli.
Out of these, S. dysenteriae was the most sensitive to the fennel seed oil.
- And research from 2009 whereby researchers tested fennel seed extract on its ability to kill bacteria showed that the antibacterial properties demonstrated in the experiment provided a scientific basis for their traditional use as a homemade remedy.
A 2004 study showed that 200mg/kg of fennel seed extract showed inhibitory effects against inflammatory diseases and Type IV allergic reactions.
In other words, it would be prudent to keep some fennel seed tea in the pantry.
You can sip it daily for its many health and nutritional benefits. AND have an instant remedy in case of food poisoning, or any other stomach bugs that regularly go around the community.
Fennel seed tea has been shown in numerous laboratory experiments to have a powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral effect on a range of common, but dangerous, bacteria.
Could assist the circulatory system
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a growing concern in modern society, leading to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, and death.
- Studies on hypertensive animals have found that the main active compound within fennel seed tea is anethole.
It’s a diuretic that removes excess water and reduces blood pressure – without having any effect on the heart rate.
A diuretic is a substance which
- increases healthy urine flow
- protects your liver from alcohol damage
- improves kidney function
- prevent kidney stones.
The essential oils and fibre fennel seeds contain flush toxins from our bodies, keeping our blood clean .
The healthy ingredients
Fennel and its seeds are rich in potassium, a mineral important for a healthy heart.
- They also contain a lot of fibre which reduces cholesterol, lowering the chance of developing heart disease.
Key minerals for a healthy heart include potassium, calcium and magnesium; all of which can be found in fennel seeds.
Furthermore, the high non-soluble fibre content of the seeds has not only been found to lower blood pressure, but also to reduce inflammation, blood sugar levels and weight.
Fennel seed tea is a good source of iron and copper.
Importantly, both of these minerals assist in the production of red blood cells in the blood.
Fennel seeds contain essential oils and fibre which work to cleanse our blood from toxins that may otherwise damage cells and tissue. They also lower cholesterol which is a leading contributor to heart disease. The tea also assists in lowering blood pressure and provides the heart with essential vitamins and minerals.
Might aid digestion
In the 21st Century, people are more concerned with looking after themselves than ever.
Gym memberships are up and so is the demand for fresh, organic food.
There is so much pollution in the air, the water, even in our food, that we need to do everything we can to help our bodies stay in optimum condition.
Yet, even though we try to eat well, there are things in our food such as additives and preservatives, which often disagree with us.
- Food allergies seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Even stress can have a negative effect on our digestion system.
Signs of digestive problems are typically stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and muscle spasms.
The healthy bio-compounds
The essential oils in fennel seeds – estragole, fenchone and anethole – have anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.
This means they help relax the digestive tract and treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as
- stomach cramps
These oils contain phytoestrogen, which inhibits muscles spasms, promoting easier digestion.
Specific compounds in fennel seeds stimulate the secretion of gastric acid.
This both reduces stomach inflammation and promotes maximum absorption of nutrients, thereby helping avoid indigestion.
- Fennel seed tea has smaller, but no less important, health benefits in that they relieve hiccups and heartburn due to the presence of phytoestrogen, which prevents acid reflux.
When you first begin to experience heartburn, make a cup of fennel seed tea and sip it slowly to help ease the associated pain and burning sensations.
And just a final extra – did you know fennel seed tea is a great herbal de-wormer?
Fennel seed tea has a laxative effect and promotes intestinal movement, which helps flush worms, and other parasites, out of our body.
The essential oils in fennel seeds have anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and calmative properties that relax the stomach, expel gas, aid digestion and stimulate gastric juices for maximum absorption of nutrients. Drinking the tea also helps prevent digestive problems and relieves their symptoms.
Might assist the respiratory system
Drinking fennel seed tea provides relief for people with asthma, and bronchitis.
Fennel seeds have an expectorant effect and can help the body get rid of phlegm and mucus, which is where bacteria and viruses can reside and multiply.
- The anti-inflammatory effects fennel seeds have can help relieve sore throats and sinus pressure allowing you to breathe more easily.
Drinking the tea on a regular basis helps keep your respiratory passages clear.
Due to the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the seeds, drinking the tea also helps to protect you from getting sick in the first place.
Fennel seeds are full of antioxidants, including the flavonoids quercetin and rutin, and together with the strong anti-inflammatory flavonoid, anethole, they help to soothe the respiratory system and relieve asthma symptoms.
The compounds in fennel seed tea have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties with can help keep our respiratory system healthy. They have an expectorant effect and can greatly assist in fighting the symptoms of colds and flus, such as coughs, blocked noses and congestion. Fennel seeds also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids that relieve the symptoms of asthma.
May help bones and joint health
Regular consumption of fennel seed tea cleanses your body and blood, helping you to maintain the health of your body, and also your bones and joints.
This cleansing has the added benefit of helping to prevent the onset of arthritic pain and gout, or helping to relieve their symptoms if you do develop them.
As the tea contains all the goodness of the many vitamins and minerals in fennel seeds, it can greatly help you in maintaining the health of your bones.
- Some of the components especially beneficial to your bones are vitamin K, phosphate and calcium, which are important for strengthening every part of your skeleton.
Manganese helps maintain the bone matrix formation, and iron and zinc help with the production and maturation of collagen.
Vitamin K also improves calcium absorption and reduces the excretion of calcium in urine.
In other words, by drinking fennel seed tea regularly, you can assist in resolving nutrient deficiencies you may have in your daily diet.
Fennel seed tea contains antioxidants which cleanse the body and help maintain the health of bones and joints. They also contain vitamins and minerals needed for healthy bones. Drinking the tea daily can help make up for any calcium deficiencies in your diet.
Diabetes type 2 is a condition whereby the body either becomes resistant to the usual effects of insulin, and/or the pancreas stops making enough insulin for the body’s needs.
It develops over a long period of time and is prevalent in people over 45.
Unfortunately, due to our diets and sedentary lifestyles, it is starting to affect younger people.
Diabetes can be caused by
- high blood pressure
- poor diet
- little physical activity
- too much weight around the middle.
Unfortunately, it can also be hereditary, with people who have family members with diabetes being more disposed to developing the condition.
A review of published research on fennel seeds and diabetes concluded that the Vitamin C and potassium in fennel seeds were the “safe, easy, and beneficial remedy for lowering the blood sugar levels” in our bodies.
Furthermore, an antioxidant found in fennel seeds, beta-carotene, reduces cholesterol levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Fennel seeds are incredibly high in fibre, which is likewise beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
They are also low on the glycemic index so can be safely consumed by diabetics.
The glycemic index shows how much glucose a particular food has on a scale of 0 to 100, which is pure glucose.
- A 2011 study found that fennel seeds, and in particular the essential oil trans-anethole, could lower blood sugar levels in rats that had induced diabetes.
Diabetes type 2 is an ever-increasing problem but fennel seed tea can be used both to combat the onset of the disease and to manage it if you already have it. It does this by lowering both blood sugar and cholesterol in the blood. As fennel seeds are low in glucose, the seeds and the tea are safe for diabetics.
Where would we be without our immune systems?
Our immune system is comprised of specialized cells, various proteins, tissue and organs.
Its job is to protect us from the throng of microorganisms and germs that we are exposed to every day.
- Fennel seed tea is an excellent source of vitamin C, whose role, one of many, is to strengthen and support our immune system.
The tea also contains selenium, which stimulates the production of T-cells (or T-lymphocytes) which are a major part of our immune system.
Their role is to kill infected host cells, activate other immune cells, and regulate the immune response.
The seeds have antimicrobial properties, which also work to the benefit of our immune system by boosting it and helping to prevent the onset of cold symptoms.
However, if you are unlucky enough to develop a cold, fennel seed tea will help your immune system reduce your fever and relieve your sore throat.
It is, likewise, effective when treating some upper-respiratory tract illnesses, such as asthma and bronchitis, and helps prevent coughing by clearing up congestion and excess phlegm.
Fennel seed tea contains a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to support a healthy immune system. The compounds within fennel seeds also protect us from microbes and bacteria, and act as both a preventative measure in cold and flu season, and also a cure.
Might have anti-cancer benefits
Another major problem in the world today is the alarming rate of cancer.
With all the chemicals in the air and water, the additives and preservatives in our food, and the general pollution we live in, doesn’t it make sense to do everything in your power to prevent cancer from developing in your body?
- Fennel seeds contain a mineral called selenium, which is not often found in fruit and vegetables.
Selenium helps with liver enzyme function, preventing inflammation, detoxifying the body from some carcinogens and decreasing tumour growth.
Fennel seeds contain vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene which are antioxidants that help fight free radicals and prevent them from doing damage to the cells and tissues of our body.
They also contain folate (vitamin B9), which assists in DNA synthesis and repair.
It’s possible folate can also help prevent cancer cells from forming due to mutations in our DNA.
Anethole is an organic compound found in fennel seeds.
It slows the growth and spread of breast cancer cells, even causing the cancer cells to kill themselves.
Another study demonstrated that anethole effectively stopped inflammation and the development of cancer by fighting off cytokines.
Cytokines are small proteins which can cause chronic inflammation and, if left untreated, can lead to the formation of cancer.
- Animal studies on mice further found that the anethole in fennel seeds may help fight both breast and liver cancer.
Information suggests that drinking fennel seed tea may have health benefits for cancer patients who have just come out of their chemotherapy session.
The tea settles their stomach and also restores their appetite.
Despite so little testing on people…
As usual with many herbal teas, when tested in laboratories and on animals they show significant health benefits and very few, if any, side effects.
Yet there is still very little testing on people.
However, we can look to the results from these experiments as guides.
Not forgetting to take into account that these herbs have been used for centuries in traditional medicines. With obvious positive results.
Or else they wouldn’t have been used continuously over such a long period of time.
Cancer is a big problem today. We are surrounded by carcinogens which make it into our bodies and cause health problems. Fennel seed tea has been found to have compounds such as anethole, antioxidants and vitamins which protect the body from free radicals and fight, and sometimes kill, cancer cells. Although research on the effects of these compounds on human health is rare, we can look to the results of laboratory experiments and to traditional medicines to inform us of their benefits.
What does fennel seed tea taste like?
It tastes mildly of anise/aniseed/liquorice.
However, it isn’t an overpowering taste, and there’s also a little sweetness and some earthy tones to the flavour.
It is also worth knowing that the aroma of the tea is much stronger than the taste of it.
For those of you who don’t care for the flavour of aniseed, you can safely try this tea!
Is fennel seed tea safe for my children?
Colic is a condition whereby a baby will cry for hours at a time for no apparent reason.
And it seems no matter what the parents try to do to help settle the baby, it just won’t stop crying.
It can be an absolute nightmare.
To date, there is no scientific evidence as to what causes it, or how to alleviate it.
Traditionally, mothers have given their babies fennel seed tea in an attempt to calm their babies.
Science has found that the tea does work on colic in babies by relaxing the intestines, alleviating general discomfort in the digestive tract and relieving gas.
Research on fennel seed tea and babies
Researchers found that babies who took a little of the tea cried for fewer hours than babies that didn’t.
Furthermore, a 2003 study of 125 infants who were administered fennel seed oil discovered it eliminated colic discomfort in 65% of those infants, compared to only a 24% decrease in symptoms in the group given a placebo.
A word of warning:
- don’t give the tea to babies under 6 months old
- don’t sweeten the tea when you do give it to your baby
- be aware that it has been known to have a laxative effect on some babies.
Also note that one study on fennel seed tea and babies found that a few of the babies had constipation, sleepiness, loss of appetite and skin reactions.
Of course, we recommend that you to talk your paediatrician before giving your baby any herbal tea.
Is it true the fennel seeds tea can be used as a natural breath freshener?
Yes, it is.
Fennel seed tea benefits us socially by eliminating bad breath, having a refreshing, cleansing effect on our breath.
Due to its antifungal and antibacterial effects, it can also help you look after your gums and teeth.
In fact, it can aide in alleviating gum inflammation.
Does fennel seed tea have any particular health benefits for men?
Yes, it contains nutrients that can increase a person’s libido and sexual desires.
It may help with problems related to the bladder and prostate, as well as delaying orgasms for those men who suffer premature ejaculation.
And while no studies have been done to show the relationship between fennel seed tea/oil on male enhancement, it is marketed that way in many countries.
Is fennel seed tea good for constipation?
Yes, it is as the essential oils in fennel seeds relax the muscles of the digestive system, including the bowels.
It will also help to cleanse your body and flush out toxins and waste products.
I’ve heard that fennel seed tea will make my breasts bigger. Is this true?
As mentioned earlier in this article, there are very few studies on the effects of fennel seeds on human health.
However, they do stimulate the body’s metabolism, and add more fat to the breast tissue and muscle.
It also has the ability to optimize breast muscle and tighten up the skin of the breasts thus helping to maintain their shape.
This is therefore quite a possible, natural way to enlarge your breasts.
And while there is no research to support this, there are dozens of accounts of women, online, who swear fennel seeds have helped them increase their breast size.
What if I don’t like the taste of anise/aniseed/liquorice?
While fennel seed tea has quite a strong aroma, it has a very mild taste.
However, if the taste is something you still can’t deal with, add a little honey or some lemon juice.
You can also make healthy mocktails by mixing the cold tea with apple juice and ginger to make the perfect detoxifying drink.
Or blend the cold tea with cucumber, apple, and banana for a healthy, refreshing smoothie.
Can I buy fennel seed tea in teabags?
Yes, you can.
While some people prefer the organic loose-leaf teas to ensure they get the full benefits of the herbal tea, others opt for teabags.
Although, if you buy your teabags from a tea merchant, you will find the teabags are slightly larger, better quality.
This enables you to get more of the goodness from the contents than your normal supermarket teabags.
It’s good to remember that teabags are usually only good for one use. Yes, you will get some of the flavour in a second or third use, but not many of the benefits.
Is fennel seed tea safe to use after the “expiration” date on the package?
Fennel seeds by themselves can be stored for up to 4 years. If stored in an air-tight container, in a place that is cool and dark, and away from any direct heat or light.
They will actually never spoil, but will lose their potency over time, especially if not stored correctly.
As for fennel seed tea, that depends if it is pure fennel seed or a blend.
If it is pure fennel seeds and stored as it says above then it can be stored for a long time before it loses its potency.
If it is a blend then it would depend on the things it has been blended with.
Never store tea in a glass container or any other container which allows the tea to be exposed to light.
Fennel seeds were utilised by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
It’s also a staple in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine, as well as being a common ingredient in many dishes.
The tiny fruit of the fennel plant is full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
It is particularly beneficial to our circulatory and digestive systems, even alleviating the discomfort of colic in babies.
There are many health benefits for pregnant and breastfeeding women to drinking fennel seed tea daily.
One of these is it stimulates lactation to produce larger quantities, of and better-quality, breast milk.
Fennel seed tea also has immense immune system benefits, so it’s ideal to drink in cold and flu season.
Fennel seed tea helps to boost your body’s immune system.
However, should you do come down with a cold, it will help to clear up your sinuses and respiratory system.
At least then you can breathe, and not feel so heavy-headed.
We’d like to know if you have ever tried fennel seed tea and what prompted you to buy it? What health benefits have you noticed after drinking it over a period of time?
Tell us in the comments section below. We’re sure other readers would enjoy hearing about your experiences.