Let’s begin by assuming that you all must be very familiar with fennel seeds. The reason to assume this is that as long back as I can remember, I have seen fennel seeds in a plate at party tables, restaurants and food joints and bars where we used to pay cash, lying there in copious amounts as mouth freshener after a meal or some drinks. But, even I was not aware of so many health benefits of fennel seeds as I do now, thanks to this new found interest in Ayurveda.

Amazing Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds

Fennel (Hindi Name Saunf/सौंफ) is a staple spice used for thousands of years across the globe owing to its sweet aromatic taste as well as various medicinal properties.

Traditionally, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has been used as a restorative drug for ailments related to reproductive system, respiratory system, endocrine, digestive system and oral health among others.

In fact, Foeniculum vulgare is a nutritional powerhouse containing numerous valuable vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, metabolites, phytochemicals, amino acids and essential oils.

Check out two of our favorite nutritional powerhouse Ashwagandha and Shilajit as well, considered ayurvedic superfood in India

Ayurvedic Properties of Fennel and Fennel Seeds (Saunf)

Ayurvedic PropertiesSaunf/Fennel (Foeniculum valgare)
Rasa (Taste)Madhura, Katu, Tikta (Sweet, Pungent, Bitter)
Guna (Physical Properties)Laghu, Snigdha (Light, Unctuous)
Virya (Potency)Ushna (Hot)
Vipaka (Metabolic Property after Digestion)Madhura (Sweet)
Dosha BalancingTridoshic herb (good for Vata, Pitta and Kapha

Science Backed Health Benefits of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

That goes without saying when we talk about the health benefits of any ayurvedic herb.

The valuable nutrients and compounds present in bestow fennel with therapeutic properties like potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective (prevents liver damage), cardiovascular (heart health & blood pressure), chemomodulatory (protection against cancer), hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), hypolipidemic (lowers lipids like cholesterol from blood), antitumor and cognitive health enhancing (improves memory) properties. [1]

Mentioned in the tables below are the nutrients and compounds which give incredible health benefits to fennel. 

Nutritional component  Value Unit  
Water  8.81 
Energy 345 kcal 
Protein  15.8 
Carbohydrates  52.3 
Total Lipid (Fat)14.9 
Fibre  39.8 
Calcium  1200 mg 
Iron, Fe 18.5 mg 
Magnesium385 mg 
Phosphorus487 mg 
Potassium1690 mg 
Sodium88 mg 
Zinc3.7 mg 
Copper1.07 mg 
Fatty acids, total saturated 0.48 
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 9.91 
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 1.69 
Table 1: Nutritional value of fennel seeds (per 100 grams) [2]

Fennel is an Abundant Source of Multivitamins

We all have heard about vitamins and how important they are for our body. But just in case, a brief introduction. 

Vitamins are like little tools that our body needs to function properly. Or the tools that keep the machines in our body strong, efficient and prevent them from unnecessary damage. You can think of it like engine oil in a vehicle that keeps it running smoothly.

Vitamins keep our immune system strong, eye sight better, fights free radicals to keep us youthful, helps repair cells and tissue and a number of other really useful stuff to keep us running energetically, efficiently over longer periods of time.

Just like our vehicles, our body can’t make these tools so we have to go shopping for veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat etc. so that our body can get a healthy level of vitamins and keep the tools working well and damage-free. Here’s a table showing the vitamins contained in fennel per 100 gm.

Table below shows the multivitamins present in fennel.

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 21 mg 
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)0.408 mg 
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.353 mg 
Niacin (Vitamin B3)6.05 mg 
Vitamin B-6 0.47 mg 
Vitamin A, RAE µg 
Vitamin A, IU135IU
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 21 µg 
Table 2: Vitamins present in fennel seeds (per 100 grams) [2]

Fennel is Rich Source of Essential Oils

We have all come across several flowers, plants, fruits and herbs which have made us feel good due to their sweet fragrance and smell. Think of roses, jasmine,  even lemon and orange

Yes , all these fragrant flowers and fruits contain essential oils. Essential oils are concentrated extractions from plants.

They are like magic potions, with special powers. They can help us relieve stress, make our skin better and healthier, may treat fungal and other infectious germs and keep us healthy and make us feel happy.

But just like magic spells, there are always some spells like Crucio which Voldemort had in Harry Potter that could be really dangerous so we need professors like Dumbledore to help us use them safely.

Digressions apart, by Dumbledore, it was implied that a physician or medical expert can guide you on how to use these essential oils for a range of health benefits without any bodily harm or adverse reactions.

When used properly, these essential oils can do a range of good things for you. Write from filling your life and home with sweet fragrance, it can help you sleep better, relieve stress, can heal your skin and make it smoother and radiant, and help you keep safe from infection causing germs and microbes.

To summarize, it’s a science backed fact that fennel are good source of essentials oil which helps keeps our body healthy and happy. [3]

Also Check Out: Most Powerful Ayurvedic Herbs and Their Health Benefits

Benefits of Fennel (Saunf) for Digestion

Benefit of Fennel for Digestion

In Ayurveda, fennel is considered to strengthen digestive fire (agni) without aggravating pitta dosha.

Fennel (Saunf) has been used traditionally for gastrointestinal relief. Chewing fennel seeds after a meal has been a staple practice. Fennel is considered to help with gas, bloating, and flatulence traditionally which is now also backed by science. [4]

Fennel also contains nutrients that may help release digestive juices to speed up our digestion and help with metabolism by stimulating amino acids and phytochemicals that assist in this process.

To sum it up, fennel can provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome, may help with constipation, diarrhea, relieving bloating and indigestion.

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Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Fennel

Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Fennel

Traditionally, fennel has been used as a cure to treat an array of infections and fight germs. Recent scientific studies have shown that fennel has been found effective in treating an array of diseases especially disorders of bacteria, fungus, viral and mycobacterial origins.

Although further research is needed to prove the efficacy on human, during the studies in lab conducted by scientists, it was shown that fennel is effective against a range of disease causing microbes which may to infections like pneumonia, boils, bone and joint infections, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

As per one of the science-backed studies, “antibacterial efficacy shown by these plants provides a scientific basis and thus, validates their traditional uses as homemade remedies.” [5]

Benefits of Fennel (Saunf) for Skin

Benefits of Fennel (Saunf) for Skin

One of the time tasted and now science backed health benefits of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is its benefits for skin.

As listed in the tables above, fennel is a rich source of vital nutrients like Vitamin A & C, and various phytonutrients, flavonoids, and polyphenols like  β-carotene. 

All these chemicals and compounds present makes it an excellent antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce damage to our body cells and tissues from free radical damage. 

In simple terms, think of our cells and tissues as workers. The free radicals are like little extremists and trouble makers that can damage our cells and tissues and lead to disorder in body functioning.

Free radicals are like superheroes who come to fight these free radicals and keep our body safe, functioning effectively and keeping us healthier and youthful.

By causing damage to our cells, free radicals can make us look aged before our time (remember, our skins and bones and muscles are built up of cells and tissues).

So if you eat foods, seeds, plants, herbs or fruits rich in antioxidants, your skin will look healthier, radiant and free of infections. In short, one of the health benefits of fennel (saunf) is its anti-aging effect. it will help you stop aging (or to be more precise make you look youthful).

To sum it up, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of fennel [6] as well as compounds and chemicals present in it keeps your skin smoother, healthier and radiant by reducing oxidative stress damage to cells, proteins and DNA by fighting free radicals which can contribute to aging. [7]

Fennel Seed May Help Increase Breast Milk & Lactation

Fennel Seed May Help Increase Breast Milk & Lactation

In one of our previous posts, we talked about the benefits of fenugreek for breastfeeding mothers. Similar to fenugreek, fennel seeds contain phytoestrogens like polymers of anethole e.g. dianethole and photoanethole. 

These estrogenic chemicals supposedly may lead to increase in secretion of hormones responsible for lactation thereby leading to an increase in breast milk production. [8]

However, it should be noted that some studies have not found any correlation between intake of fennel and increased production of milk.

So if you are trying to use fennel for this specific purpose, it is advisable that you should consult a healthcare expert before deciding whether or not to consume fennel to increase breast milk production.

However, a word of caution. Some studies have found that excessive intake of fennel especially in tea form could. New Mothers should avoid fennel in any form if they or their infants show or are allergic to carrots, celery, or other plants in the Apiaceae family (family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems).[8.1]

Health Benefits of Fennel Seed (Saunf) for Weight Loss

Benefits of Fennel Seed (Saunf) for Weight Loss

Fennel seeds and fennel as a whole, is a good source of amino acids and metabolites. These amino acids present in the fennel help stimulate the metabolic process by which food is converted into energy efficiently.

Also, fennel seeds have diuretic properties which together with healthy metabolism may help you in proper weight management.

Additionally, according to one study, consumption of fennel may help curb your appetite. In the study, it was found that having fennel tea before eating lunch significantly led to the test group feeling less hungry and consuming less carbs as opposed to placebo. 

To sum it up, consuming fennel seeds as part of tea or as aqueous supplement may keep hunger pangs at bay. As fennel is a rich source of fibre, vitamins and amino acids and also flavonoids, metabolites and phytochemicals with diuretic effects, along with balanced diet and regular exercise, fennel seeds may benefit in healthy weight management naturally.

Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds for Women (Menopausal)

Benefits of Fennel for Menopausal Women

Although, above mentioned health benefits of fennel apply to women in general as well as men. But did you know that fennel has been subject of a number of studies for its potential health benefits of women’s sexual health.

Fennel benefits for women’s health have been subject of various studies which have concluded that it can have a positive effect on the health status of menopausal women. Consumption of fennel can improve both sexual function as well as satisfaction level in women.

The study found out that fennel consumption may relieve vasomotor symptoms (high flushes and night sweats, both symptoms of menopause), vaginal itching, pain during sex and sexual satisfaction as well as relief in sleep disturbances.[9]

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Other Health Benefits of Fennel (Saunf)

  • Benefit of Fennel Seeds for Gas: Aids in digestion, relaxes intestines and help with constipation by lowering gut inflammation and decreasing bacteria in bowels thereby reducing gassiness.
  • Benefit of Fennel Seeds for Acidity: Nutrients present in fennel seeds helps prevent acid reflux by relaxing the muscle walls of intestines.
  • Benefits of Fennel Seeds for Heart Health: Potassium is a mineral that is abundant in fennel seeds and helps control blood volume. It aids in maintaining blood pressure and heart rate under control. [9]
  • Benefits of Fennel for Blood Sugar Control: The high traces of vitamin C, which is present in abundance in fennel seeds, has also been reported to reduce blood sugar levels.[10]

Also check out our exclusive Dr Madhu Amrit, an ayurvedic formulation for blood sugar control

  • Benefits of Fennel for Diabetes Type 2: Another antioxidant found in fennel seeds, beta-carotene, has also been linked to decreased cholesterol in type 2 diabetics.[11]
  • Fennel Seeds Benefits in Cancer: Anethole, a significant component of fennel seeds, has been demonstrated to possess anti-cancer potential. Anethole is effective at killing breast cancer cells and halting the spread of both breast and liver cancer cells, according to research.[12]

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How to Use Fennel

Fennel can be used in various delicious and beneficial ways! Here are some of the best ways to use fennel:

  1. Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds can be chewed on their own as a natural breath freshener and digestive aid. After a meal, just pop a few fennel seeds into your mouth and enjoy their sweet flavor while benefiting from their digestive properties.
  2. Fennel Tea: Fennel tea is a popular and soothing drink. To make fennel tea, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to a cup of hot water and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. You can sweeten it with honey if you like. Sipping on fennel tea after a meal or before bedtime can be very calming and beneficial for digestion and relaxation.
  3. Fennel in Cooking: Fennel can add a delightful flavor to your cooking. You can use fennel seeds or fresh fennel bulbs in recipes like soups, salads, stir-fries, and roasted vegetables. It pairs well with fish, chicken, and many other dishes.
  4. Fennel Infused Water: Adding fennel seeds to water and letting it infuse overnight is a refreshing way to enjoy its flavor and health benefits. Fennel-infused water can be a hydrating and tasty alternative to regular water.
  5. Fennel in Baking: Fennel seeds can be added to bread, cookies, and other baked goods to give them a unique and aromatic twist.
  6. Fennel in Indian Cuisine: In Indian cooking, fennel seeds are often used in spice blends and curries, imparting their distinct taste to the dishes.
  7. Fennel as a Mouth Freshener: In some cultures, fennel seeds are served as a mouth freshener after meals. They not only freshen the breath but also aid in digestion.

Remember, fennel is a versatile herb, so you can get creative with how you use it in your cooking and beverages. Just ensure you don’t overdo it, as the flavor of fennel can be quite strong for some people. Enjoy fennel in moderation, and it will add a lovely and healthy touch to your meals and drinks!

Side Effects of Fennel during Pregnancy

And a word of caution, especially for pregnant ladies. Be advised that fennel may adversely affect your baby. Eating fennel seeds or consuming it in any form may lead to preterm birth of your baby. Be advised and ask your physician or consult a doctor before deciding on making fennel part of your diet if you are pregnant and expecting a baby. [13]

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