FENNEL FOR DIGESTIVE DISORDERS – Healthy Positive Mind –
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), a member of the parsley family, is a plant with yellowish flowers that grows up to 5 or 6 feet tall. This large herb radiates a sweet, warm licorice odor.
While fennel is native to Southern Europe, commercial fennel usually comes from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Egypt, or China. Each part of the fennel plant is edible- the seeds, leaves, stalks, and the bulb.
Fennel doubles as a vegetable and a spice. The sweet-flavored tasty stems, which resemble celery, have a pleasant anise-like flavor. They can be diced into soups and salads, or used for savoring stews and stir-fry vegetables. The feathery leaves can also be used to flavor vegetable dishes.
The fruit or seeds are greenish yellow-brown in color, and vary in size up to 3/8 inch (1 cm) long. The seeds are oval in shape, slightly curved with ridges. The grooved seeds can be used both for flavoring purposes as well as for medicinal purposes. The seeds can be used in bread, entrees, apple pie, vegetable dishes, and tomato-based sauces. The Spanish use fennel abundantly in their baking and cooking.
A tea can also be made from fennel seeds. The tea can be prepared by simmering two to three teaspoons of crushed seeds in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes.
This refreshing tea is also considered a pleasant breath freshener. Fennel seeds are reasonably rich in the minerals, potassium and calcium.
HEALTH PROMOTING PROPERTIES
Fennel belongs to the Apiaceae family of herbs that contains anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, and parsley.
This popular family of culinary herbs is noted for the unique flavors they impart to various foods. These herbs are unique in their content of phthalides, polyacetylenes, and couramins. These phytochemicals provide the consumer with protection against cancer.
Fennel is a very popular herb with a long history of usage. In folk medicine, it was used to promote menstruation and to enhance lactation. The ancient Romans grew fennel for its aromatic seeds. Today, the pleasant flavor of fennel is used to mask the off flavors of food, medicine, or herbal teas.
Extracts of fennel also have antimicrobial activity against a number of bacteria (such as Staphylococcus and E. coli), fungi and yeasts (such as Candida).