By Dr. Mercola
Fennel, a unique herb with a crunchy, pale green root and feathery carrot top-like fronds, was said to have been first used by the Roman author Pliny, who lived between 23 A.D. and 79 A.D.1 Centuries later in 812 A.D., the emperor Charlemagne2 declared that fennel must be grown in every garden so people could take advantage of its potential healing properties.3
Apart from fennel bulb and fronds, the seeds may deliver some benefits when steeped and consumed as fennel tea. If you’re curious about what fennel tea tastes like, what it can possibly deliver for your health and how you can make it at home, continue reading this article.
What Is Fennel Tea?
Fennel seed tea, or simply called fennel tea, is made from the seeds of the fennel plant (Foeniculum vulgare). The tea tastes a bit like licorice, and has slightly bitter aftertaste and a relaxing scent.4 Fennel, a perennial herb, is typically found in the Mediterranean region, although it can be located in different parts of the world because of its popularity and hardiness.
Traditional medicinal practices in China, India and the Middle East have utilized fennel extensively, but it has recently become more popular as an herbal remedy to the rest of the world.5
Fennel Tea's Health Benefits
Reduce spasms in the gut and other parts of the body: This is due to its antispasmodic effects.
Improve digestion: Fennel tea has long been utilized as a digestive aid. The herb may help prevent formation of gas, potentially eliminating bloating and cramping, speeding up the digestive process and ensuring maximum nutrient uptake.
Decrease inflammation: This herb has anti-inflammatory properties that may assist tissues and muscles in functioning more normally, and lower the risk for unnecessary inflammatory responses.
Protect the eyes: Fennel tea may assist with addressing poor eyesight, while its antibacterial and immune-boosting properties may shield the eyes from conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.21
Lower blood pressure levels: Potassium in fennel tea serves as a vasodilator that may alleviate tension in the arteries and blood vessels, and hopefully help prevent the onset of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, and decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.24
Balance hormone levels: Compounds in fennel tea are known to possess estrogen-like qualities that may lead to a balancing effect on female hormones.
Help with breast milk production: Fennel has been utilized as a galactagogue, or a substance that increases the quality and quantity of breastmilk.
Potentially help babies with colic: For babies with colic, fennel tea may be a good remedy.25
Research has suggested that this drink may assist with reducing its symptoms. However, before giving fennel tea to a child, consult a doctor first to see if the baby can handle it.26
Reduce weight: Fennel tea may help with weight loss through different mechanisms. It may promote urination and lead to elimination of water retention and bloating.
This tea may help regulate appetite and hormones, and prevent overeating and obesity too.
Assist with better sleep: It's said that fennel tea can relax the muscles and help the person feel more ready to sleep after it.27
Freshen breath: The tea's antibacterial properties assist in cleansing pathogens that cause bad breath.28
Fennel Tea Nutrition Facts
A cup of fennel tea, while considerably low in calories (180 calories) and fat (9 grams of total fat), can deliver quantities of vital nutrients:29
|Total Fat||9 g||Potassium||205 mg|
|Saturated Fat||3 g||Total Carbs||11 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||2 g||Dietary Fiber||3 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||4 g||Sugars||4 g|
|Trans Fat||0 g||Protein||13 g|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
What Is Fennel Tea's Caffeine Content?
According to Medical News Today, fennel tea is a caffeine-free drink,30 making it a potentially good option for people who are caffeine-sensitive or need to lower their intake of caffeinated drinks. Just make sure to drink minimal amounts of fennel tea first, since it may affect your digestion. This way, you’ll know how your body will interact to the substances in the beverage.31
How to Make Fennel Tea
Simple Fennel Tea Recipe
• 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly crushed fennel seeds
• 1 cup boiling water
1. In a teapot, steep the fennel seeds in the boiling water for five to 10 minutes, depending on desired strength.
2. Strain and serve. Reheat if desired.
This makes 1 serving
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Ideally, drink fennel tea right away. The longer it sits, the more volatile compounds may be released into the air, leaving less amounts for your body.34
If you don't have access to fennel seeds, you can buy ready-to-brew fennel seed tea. Remember that steeping the tea produces a stronger-flavored brew. No recommended daily consumption limits for fennel tea have been recorded, but as mentioned earlier, start with a minimal amount, usually one cup at a time.35
How to Store Fennel Tea
Fennel seeds are available all year round in markets, either whole or ground. If you’re buying fennel seeds from a store, purchase whole seeds instead of powder. Powdered fennel may contain unwanted adulterated spicy powders.
At home, store dry fennel seeds in a clean and sealed container in a cool, humid-free and dark place. Meanwhile, ground and powdered fennel must be stored inside the refrigerator in airtight containers. These should be used sooner, as it loses flavor quickly because the essential oils already begin to evaporate.36
What Are Fennel Tea's Side Effects?
Women suffering from breast cancer or are undergoing treatment for this disease must not consume any form of fennel. Estragole, a key element in fennel, was identified as a potential carcinogen. This compound may be unsafe for adults and babies in large quantities too. If you’re planning to use fennel tea for a colicky baby, consult your physician first to determine the safe amounts.
As mentioned earlier, fennel has an estrogenic effect. Activated estrogen, which is in the oil of the fennel seeds, may confuse a pregnant woman's body, which is already experiencing a surge in its hormones. Because of this, pregnant women mustn't drink fennel tea, while breastfeeding mothers should exercise extreme caution.37
People who are allergic to carrots, celery, mugwort or other plants belonging to the carrot family must avoid fennel tea because the herb is closely related to these foods. This may lead to allergic reactions, with symptoms such as breathing difficulties, hives, rashes, swelling of the lips or face, and closing of the throat.
Fennel may also trigger an increased sensitivity to sunlight and cause menstruation. There are also concerns surrounding the possibility that fennel may cause girls’ breasts to develop prematurely. Be cautious about eating fennel or drinking fennel tea if you are taking blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. Other medicines that fennel may interact with include some antibiotics (especially those from the ciprofloxacin family) and seizure medications.38,39,40,41
Fennel Tea May Have Fantastic Benefits, but Be Careful About Its Potential Side Effects
Fennel tea made from the herb's seeds has been linked to positive impacts towards the brain, blood and parts of the digestive system. However, it's still important to talk to your doctor beforehand about how this tea may work (or not work) for you.
Side effects have been linked to fennel tea, especially those that can negatively impact pregnant women, cancer patients and people taking certain medications. As with any type of herbal tea, precautions are a must to ensure that this drink improves your health and not the other way around.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Fennel Tea
Q: What is fennel tea used for?
A: Fennel tea may be utilized to address constipation by relaxing the body's digestive muscles, and alleviate some respiratory diseases by acting as an expectorant and eliminating mucus and phlegm. This tea may also help babies suffering from colic, promote better sleep and possibly assist with weight loss.
Q: What is fennel tea good for?
A: Fennel tea can promote numerous health benefits, some of which include:
• Detoxifying the body
• Raising the body's antioxidant levels
• Promoting immunity
• Lessening inflammation
• Boosting breast milk production
Q: Is fennel tea safe during pregnancy?
A: As much as possible, pregnant women must not drink fennel tea. Fennel possesses an estrogenic effect, and when estrogen in the oil of these seeds becomes activated, it can confuse a pregnant woman's body, which is already undergoing a surge in hormones.
Q: Does fennel tea increase milk supply?
A: Fennel tea was used for years as a galactagogue that increases the quality and quantity of breastmilk. However, breastfeeding mothers who wish to drink fennel tea for this purpose must consult their doctor first.
Q: Is fennel tea a laxative?
A: Traditional use of fennel tea has shown that it can work as a laxative.42 Fennel tea helps relax the digestive muscles, potentially relieving constipation.
Q: Where to buy fennel tea?
A: Fennel seeds used to make fennel tea can be purchased all year round in markets. While there are whole or ground options available, it's better to buy whole seeds, since powdered fennel seeds may be adulterated and have unwanted spicy powder. Fennel tea bags may also be available in some health stores and on websites, but make sure to purchase only from reputable sources.