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15 Health Benefits of Fennel Tea & 4 Potential Risks

From aiding digestion to soothing menstrual cramps, fennel tea offers a natural approach to wellness. This article discusses the long list of fennel tea benefits, as well as its potential side effects. We’ll also offer some tips for preparing and serving fennel tea to make the most out of its taste and health benefits.

For centuries, fennel has been cultivated for its medicinal and culinary applications. It has a long list of benefits that span both the body and mind, making it an indispensable addition to every kitchen.

Fennel tea, made from the plant’s seeds or leaves, is the most popular application of his herb. It’s a soothing and aromatic beverage that helps with digestion, respiratory issues, and many others.

What Is Fennel Tea? Origin, Taste, and Interesting Facts

What Is Fennel Tea? Origin, Taste, and Interesting Facts

Fennel (scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare) is a short-lived perennial plant belonging to the family Apiaceae, commonly known as the carrot family.

Native to southern Europe along the Mediterranean Sea, fennel is cultivated for its leaves, shoots, and seeds.

It can grow up to six feet tall and features feathery, dark green leaves, similar to that of dill.

Its bulb, which resembles a cross between an onion and celery, can be roasted, sauteed, grilled, and eaten raw in salads.

The feathery leaves, often referred to as fronds, are used as an herb to add flavor to soups, sauces, and savory dishes.

As for its seeds, it’s commonly used to make the star of this post, fennel tea.

Origin and Where Fennel Tea Comes From

Origin and Where Fennel Tea Comes From

According to a study published in BioMed Research International, fennel tea originated in the southern Mediterranean region.

Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans believed that fennel tea could not only alleviate physical ailments but also cleanse the body and soul.

At the time, it was frequently used in rituals and ceremonies to ward off negativity and promote fertility and abundance.

Many of these superstitions have faded, but fennel tea’s popularity persists due to its delightful flavor and potential health benefits.

Studies show that fennel tea has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects, supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of infections. It also provides relief from conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and inflammatory bowel diseases.

What Is Fennel Tea Made Of?

What Is Fennel Tea Made Of?

Fennel tea is commonly made from the seeds of the fennel plant, which is crushed and steeped in boiling water. The drink is enjoyed either plain or with honey, lemon, ginger, or milk.

You can find fennel seeds in most stores, including supermarkets and specialty spice shops.

They’re available in both whole and ground forms, and packaged in jars, bags, or containers. You can also find them in pre-packed tea bags for convenient brewing.

If you’re growing fennel in your backyard, you can easily harvest the seeds once the plant has matured.

Fennel releases seeds in late summer to early fall.

To harvest the seeds, wait until the flower heads turn to burn and dry. Then, carefully cut the umbels (seed head) from the main stem with sharp prunes or scissors. Place the umbels upside down in a paper bag and let it dry out at room temperature for one to two weeks.

What Does Fennel Tea Taste Like?

What Does Fennel Tea Taste Like?

Fennel tea tastes like a mix of anise and licorice.

It has a well-balanced blend of flavors with sweet and citrusy undertones, making it a popular drink for those who enjoy herbal infusions.

It’s best paired with a light snack but tastes equally satisfying on its own, especially when you’re drinking it to relieve a stomach ache.

Types of Fennel Tea

Types of Fennel Tea

Fennel tea comes in two variations: fennel seeds tea and fennel leaves tea. Each variation offers its own unique flavor profile.

Fennel Seeds Tea

Fennel Seeds Tea

Fennel seed tea is the most popular type of fennel tea, made by steeping whole or crushed fennel seeds in hot water.

It’s prized for its soothing properties and digestive benefits, often consumed after meals to aid digestion, alleviate bloating, and relieve stomach discomfort.

Fennel Leaves Tea

Fennel Leaves Tea

Fennel leaves tea, also known as fennel fronds tea, is made by steeping the fennel’s feathery green leaves in hot water.

It’s less common than fennel seeds tea and can only be found in specialty spice stores, not because it’s rare but because not a lot of people buy it.

It has a mild, herbaceous flavor profile and offers the same benefits as seed tea but to a lesser extent.
Fennel leaves tea is enjoyed with mint, ginger, and other herbs to enhance its flavor.

Nutritional Facts and Calories of Fennel Tea

Nutritional Facts and Calories of Fennel Tea

A tablespoon of raw fennel contains:

  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Calories: 7
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

By itself, fennel tea contains negligible amounts of calories, carbs, fiber, and fat.

If you add honey, ginger, and lemon, the overall calorie count increases slightly.

One tablespoon of honey has around 60 calories, ginger has 1 to 2 calories, and lemon has 2 to 3 calories.

15 Health Benefits of Fennel Tea

15 Health Benefits of Fennel Tea

Here are some of the most notable benefits of fennel tea.

Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Fennel tea is commonly used to treat symptoms of IBS, including cramping, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.

This is supported by a study on fennel’s antispasmodic properties, which found that individuals with symptoms of IBS experienced a noticeable improvement after drinking fennel tea for 30 days.

The herb’s antispasmodic and gas-relieving effects can be attributed to a compound called anethole.

Anethole relaxes the smooth muscles in the digestive tract, which can help reduce cramping and spasms. It also has carminative properties that ease bloating and discomfort.

Improves Women’s Reproductive Health

Improves Women’s Reproductive Health

Fennel tea is believed to offer several benefits related to women’s health.

It can help manage painful periods, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), among others.

As mentioned earlier, Fennel tea contains anethole, a compound that has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.

Drinking fennel tea during menstruation may help alleviate menstrual cramps and reduce pain associated with periods.

On top of that, fennel is an emmenagogue, according to general practitioner Dr. Greta J. Kuphal. It stimulates menstrual flow in the pelvic area and uterus, which is why they’re often used in cases of delayed menstrual bleeding (dysmenorrhea).

Fennel’s anti-inflammatory properties also benefit women suffering from PMS and PCOS, as it can alleviate symptoms of bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness, as well as hot flashes and night sweats.

Some studies even suggest that fennel contains estrogen-like effects, which may help balance hormone levels during menopause.

Aids in Breast Milk Production

Aids in Breast Milk Production

Dr. Kuphal states that fennel possesses galactagogue properties—a substance that increases the quality and quantity of breastmilk in breastfeeding moms.

While it’s yet to be scientifically proven, anecdotal evidence and some medical literature support this theory.

Note that this benefit is only applicable to non-pregnant breastfeeding women.

Due to its emmenagogue properties, fennel tea is NOT recommended during pregnancy as it could theoretically stimulate uterine contractions.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Regulates Blood Sugar

Complementary healthcare practitioners and herbalists often recommend fennel tea as a way to regulate blood sugar.

A study on diabetic rats found that fennel seed extract reduced blood sugar levels. This suggests that fennel may have potential benefits for people with diabetes or those at risk of developing high blood sugar levels.

The compounds found in fennel—polyphenols and flavonoids—are shown to enhance insulin sensitivity and promote glucose uptake, leading to better blood sugar control.

Increases Antioxidant Levels

Increases Antioxidant Levels

Fennel is rich in various flavonoids, including apigenin, quercetin, and kaempferol.

These antioxidants help the body fight back against oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

By drinking fennel tea, you’re reducing your risk of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Kills Harmful Bacteria In the Body

Kills Harmful Bacteria In the Body

Research suggests that fennel extracts, including those used in fennel tea, can inhibit the growth of various bacteria strains in the body.

This includes E.coli, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, and other bacteria associated with foodborne illnesses and infections.

Fennel contains 5-hydroxy-furanocoumarin and anethole, which damage bacterial cell walls to prevent further growth and multiplication.

Manages Appetite

Manages Appetite

Fennel tea is often used in weight management plans due to its potential to reduce appetite.

The natural compounds present in fennel, particularly anethole, have appetite-suppressing effects.

Fennel also helps the body absorb nutrients more efficiently, resulting in a better-functioning digestive system.

A study on the effects of fennel extract found that overweight participants who drank fennel tea experienced a decrease in hunger levels.

They’ve also reported feeling fuller longer compared to those who received a placebo.

This suggests that fennel may indeed have appetite-suppressing properties, making it beneficial for people looking to manage their weight.

Encourages Urination

Encourages Urination

Fennel tea has diuretic properties that can increase urine production and flow.

This is advantageous for people with urinary tract issues as it supports the body’s natural detoxification process. It helps flush out toxins and excess fluids from the body.

Fennel’s diuretic effect also reduces water retention and supports kidney function.

Boosts Heart Health

Boosts Heart Health

Fennel boasts a high level of potassium, which is known to regulate blood pressure and heart rate and combat the effects of sodium in the body.

Fennel also supports the liver’s ability to break down cholesterol, indirectly assisting the cardiovascular system.

This means that drinking fennel tea regularly can reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and hypertension.

Increases Iron Absorption

Increases Iron Absorption

Fennel is rich in vitamin C, which can enhance iron absorption when consumed alongside iron-rich foods.

Additionally, it contains copper and folate, nutrients involved in the production and function of red blood cells.

Copper aids in the storage, absorption, and metabolism of iron, while folate supports red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.

Clears the Respiratory System

Clears the Respiratory System

For centuries, fennel tea has been the go-to method to loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract.

It helps people cope better with respiratory issues like colds, coughs, and bronchitis because it eases congestion and promotes easier breathing.

In a study published in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, an herbal composite containing fennel alleviated respiratory problems in horses in the same way it does with humans.

Improves Vision

Improves Vision

You read that right; fennel tea also contributes to improved vision and may even help in treating glaucoma.

Low levels of vitamin C can result in eye cataract formation.

Adding fennel tea to your daily diet may prevent glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because fennel seeds contain vitamin C, which promotes better vision and protects the eyes.

Fennel tea can also minimize inflammation and puffiness around the eyes.

You can use cooled fennel tea as an eye rinse or as an eye compress. Dip a clean, soft cloth or cotton pad into the cooled tea, squeeze out the excess liquid, and place them over closed eyes for 10 to 15 minutes and let it work its magic.

Reduces Gum Inflammation

Reduces Gum Inflammation

The antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties in fennel tea can help reduce inflammation and eliminate bad breath.

Fennel tea is often touted as a natural breath freshener, taken after a heavy meal to remove lingering food odors.

Its antibacterial compounds make it a popular ingredient in many toothpaste products.

Helps With Sleep

Helps With Sleep

A study published in the Arabian Journal of Chemistry found that fennel seeds have sleep-promoting properties.

By calming the nervous system and reducing anxiety, fennel tea can relax the mind and improve sleep quality.

Drinking fennel tea before bedtime also alleviates gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas or bloating, resulting in better sleep without interruptions.

Soothes Colic

Soothes Colic

Fennel tea has anti-spasmodic qualities that can help soothe colic and digestive discomfort in infants.

Six-month-old babies can drink a tablespoon of fennel tea before or after meals. Parents can also use it as a flavoring agent, adding it to cereals, porridge, and soups.

Potential Risks of Fennel Tea

Potential Risks of Fennel Tea

While generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderation, there are some potential risks and considerations to be aware of.

May Trigger Allergic Reactions

May Trigger Allergic Reactions

People who are allergic to members of the Apiaceae family may experience symptoms like skin rash, itching, difficulty breathing, and, in the worst cases, anaphylaxis.

Aside from fennel, common Apiaceae species include carrots, celery, and parsley.

If you have known allergies to these plants, avoid fennel tea.

May Disrupt Pregnancy

May Disrupt Pregnancy

Fennel contains phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.

For women experiencing menstrual issues, such as irregular periods or uncomfortable symptoms like cramping or bloating, phytoestrogens in fennel tea are good because they help regulate hormonal imbalances.

Regrettably, the same can’t be said for pregnant women.

During pregnancy, maintaining stable hormone levels is important for fetal development.

Excessive intake of phytoestrogens could potentially disrupt hormonal balance and pose risks to both the mother and the baby.

Additionally, fennel tea is known to stimulate menstruation and promote uterine contractions. Pregnant women should avoid fennel tea to prevent the risk of premature labor or miscarriage.

May Exacerbate Bleeding Disorders

May Exacerbate Bleeding Disorders

Fennel tea is a big no-no for people with bleeding disorders like hemophilia or von Willebrand disease because of its anticoagulant properties.

Drinking fennel tea may increase the risk of bleeding, especially when taking blood-thinning medication.

May Interfere With Certain Medications

May Interfere With Certain Medications

Because of its estrogen-like properties, fennel tea may inhibit the effects of birth control pills.

It’s also been shown to prevent liver enzymes from effectively breaking down certain drugs, like acetaminophen (paracetamol).

This can result in higher levels of the drug in the blood, leading to adverse effects or toxicity.

Is Fennel Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

Is Fennel Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

No, fennel tea isn’t good for pregnant people.

Fennel tea—as well as other herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, and chamomile—is linked to preterm birth and toxicity from contaminants, according to Dr. Berna Bebitoglu.

Fennel tea is commonly used to stimulate menstruation and uterine contractions.

This is beneficial for those experiencing irregular periods, but not for pregnant individuals as it may induce miscarriage and premature labor.

Moreover, Dr. Bebitoglu states that fennel tea contains compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Excessive estrogen exposure during pregnancy could potentially disrupt fetal development or hormone balance.

The risk of contaminants should also be considered. It isn’t uncommon for herbal teas to be contaminated with pesticides, microbes, or heavy metals, which can be harmful to both the mother and

the developing fetus.

How to Make Fennel Tea at Home: A Simple Guide

How to Make Fennel Tea at Home: A Simple Guide

Fennel tea takes no time at all to prepare. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making fennel tea at home:

Ingredients

Ingredients

The perfect fennel tea consists of:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 slice of orange (optional)

Instructions

Instructions

Follow these instructions to make your own fennel tea:

  1. Bring water to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Crush the fennel seeds using a mortar and pestle until you achieve a coarse consistency.
  3. Transfer the seeds to the boiling water and let them steep for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture into a teapot and add honey if desired.
  5. Serve the tea as-is or with a slice of orange in the glass.

If you’re short on time, most major grocery stores sell fennel tea bags.

Prepare these teabags much like how you would prepare regular tea: boil water and steep the bag for a few minutes before adding your desired sweetener.

Tips for Drinking and Serving Fennel Tea

Tips for Drinking and Serving Fennel Tea

Here are some tips and practices to consider when drinking fennel tea.

Combine Fennel Tea with Fresh Herbs

Combine Fennel Tea with Fresh Herbs

Fennel’s unique flavor profile, reminiscent of a blend of anise and licorice, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you want to temper its taste or add complexity, consider combining it with fresh herbs.

Herbs that complement fennel tea include mint, rosemary, basil, and lemon balm.

Be Mindful of the Brewing Time

Be Mindful of the Brewing Time

Make sure that you don’t over brew your fennel tea.

Over-brewing can result in a strong, intense flavor, which may be too overpowering for some people.

Aim for a brewing time of between 5 to 7 minutes for a balanced flavor. If you want it a bit stronger, steep for 10 minutes.

The optimal brewing temperature for fennel tea is around 200°F (93°C).

Second Steep

Second Steep

Instead of throwing away the seeds, you can reuse them to make a second cup.

After straining the first cup, simply add hot water again and steep for another 3 to 5 minutes.

The flavor won’t be as strong but it still retains some of the beneficial compounds of the fennel seeds.

Add Milk

Add Milk

Adding milk to fennel seeds creates a creamy and comforting beverage reminiscent of a warm spiced latte.

It also helps mellow out the strong and sometimes pungent flavor of fennel seeds, making the beverage more palatable for those who don’t like the taste of fennel tea on its own.

Fennel and milk create not only a more filling and satisfying drink but also additional health benefits.

Milk is a good source of essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamins B12 and D.

Infuse With Ginger

Infuse With Ginger

Infusing fennel tea with ginger adds a spicy and aromatic kick to the beverage.

Ginger complements the subtle sweetness of the fennel seeds, balancing the flavors.

Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, making it a natural addition to fennel tea since it has the same properties.

Add Your Choice Of Sweetener

Add Your Choice Of Sweetener

Fennel tea has a naturally sweet flavor, but some people prefer a sweeter taste.

Instead of using refined sugar, add natural sugars like honey, stevia, or agave syrup to the drink.

Drink On an Empty Stomach

Drink On an Empty Stomach

Though often enjoyed after a meal, fennel tea is most effective when consumed on an empty stomach.

Drinking fennel tea on an empty stomach can help stimulate digestion and alleviate symptoms of bloating, gas, and indigestion more effectively.

It also allows the body to absorb its nutrients and compounds more effectively.

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