The health benefits of fennel
What is fennel?
Fennel’s delicious uplifting flavours has made it one of Pukka’s favourite herbs used in many of our tea blends.
Ayurveda, the ‘science of wellbeing’ that developed in India over 5000 years ago, refers to fennel as ‘shatapushpa’ meaning ‘one hundred flowers’. This describes the fennel plant’s beautiful tiny yellow flowers. Our Three Fennel tea combines the seeds of bitter fennel and sweet fennel with a small amount of sweet fennel leaf to create a delicate balance of sweet, pungent, and bitter flavours.
Many people associate fennel with the bulbous base of the plant that is cooked as a vegetable. This is a modified variety that has been created through years of careful plant breeding. Known as Florence fennel, this variety is much shorter than the sweet and bitter varieties that we use at Pukka in our herbal creations.
So, why's fennel so special?
Fennel is brimming with herbal lifestyle benefits, including antioxidant activity (1). Its key essential oil, known as anethole, gives fennel its characteristic taste and smell which is often likened to that of anise. Fennel’s essential oils help relax muscles, which can relieve bloating and make you feel more comfortable after a meal. Fennel’s spicy and aromatic qualities are also used in Ayurveda to build the digestive fire and reduce congestion in the body.
What are the benefits of drinking fennel tea?
Aside from its many culinary uses, drinking fennel tea is an idea way to experience some of the health benefits of fennel which include:
Fennel is traditionally used to support the digestion helping with many common complaints such as bloating, discomfort and excess wind. This makes after meals an ideal time to enjoy one of our blends containing fennel such as Feel New and After Dinner. It’s also the key herb in our After Dinner supplement.
Beyond soothing the digestive system, fennel can help calm tension elsewhere in the body which is why it is found in our calming Relax blend.
Fennel also plays a traditional role in women’s health, soothing monthly menstrual discomfort and supporting breastfeeding.
Fennel water is also traditionally used for colic in babies.
How we grow our highest quality fennel
Fennel thrives in hot, dry climates and produces seeds with extremely varied essential oils, depending on where it is grown. In 2020, we sourced 120 tonnes of sweet fennel grown organically in Turkey. We source our bitter fennel from Bulgaria and Hungary where the climate is equally suited to grow fennel of the highest quality, so blends such as Three fennel which contain a blend of bitter and sweet fennel are brimming with potent essential oils.
Why not harness the health benefits of fennel by making this simple Ayurvedic mouth freshener to chew after meals? Fennel is one of the most common ingredients used in traditional mouth fresheners due to its antibacterial effects. Lightly dry roast an equal amount of fennel, desiccated coconut and sesame seeds (suggested amount of half a cup each) separately in a small frying pan. Mix together then add ½ teaspoon of some of the following digestion-friendly spices: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and clove. S tore in an airtight container and chew ½ teaspoon to end each meal.
1. Shahat AA, Ibrahim AY, Hendawy SF, et al. (2011) Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of essential oils from organically cultivated fennel cultivars. Molecules. 16(2):1366–1377