Fennel Seed Tea
Fennel is a sweet-smelling perennial herb with yellow flowers which is native to the Mediterranean but is now found all around the world. Fennel seeds from which the tea is derived contain essential oil, the main constituents of which are anethole and fenchole.
Traditionally, fennel has been used to ease digestive problems including heartburn, gas, bloating, loss of appetite and colic in infants.1 A 2003 study 0f 125 children aged 2 to 12 weeks found that fennel seed reduced colic in 65% of the babies, compared to 23.7% who were given a placebo.2
Its major constituent, anethole, has been shown to inhibit spasms in smooth muscle.3 Fennel is also thought to increase production of bile, which is important for digestion, and urine production.4
Laboratory studies have shown that fennel seed oil reduces the frequency and severity of uterine contractions5 and a 2012 trial reported, “Fennel is an effective herbal drug for menstrual pain."6
Fennel seeds are also used a breath-freshener and contain high levels of nitrates, which a 2012 study found supported the growth of new blood vessels and reduced tension in the vessel walls, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.7
Tanira MOM, Shah AH, Mohsin A, et al. Pharmacological and toxicological investigations on Foeniculum vulgare dried fruit extract in experimental animals. Phytother Res 1996;10:33-6.
5 Ostad SN, Soodi M, Shariffzadeh M, Khorshidi N, Marzban H. The effect of fennel essential oil on uterine contraction as a model for dysmenorrhea, pharmacology and toxicology study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;76:299–344. [PubMed]