When I think of fennel, I don’t often think about the health benefits of fennel seeds. Instead, I think of an Indian restaurant, with a cute little dish of sweet saunfand (saunf is Hindi for fennel) and a matching spoon at the host’s station, available as a digestif.
The crunchy sweetness with a hint of anise is a great way to finish off a meal and cleanse the mouth, but there are many more reasons to add fennel to your pantry.
Hildegard’s Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
“And whatever it is eaten, makes people happy and gives warmth, good welding and good digestion…reduces the evil mucus or Fäulnisse in it, and suppressed the foul odor of the breath… “ – Hildegard von Bingen
Welding and the human body? Huh? Considering its definition to “cause to combine and form a harmonious or effective whole,” I would think welding is a benefit.
Incorporating fennel into your daily regime doesn’t require a DIY session to make sweet saunf – though do let us know if you try. Simply roasting the seeds for a few minutes in a small pan will provide you with a base to use for tea, to add to warm water or even to eat (1/2 tsp doses after meals is sufficient.)
What to do with Fennel?
Fresh fennel can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for about four days, but it is best to eat fennel as soon as possible, as it loses flavor over time. The dried or roasted fennel seeds can last for about six months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Once you have a supply of roasted fennel seeds, there are many easy ways to incorporate fennel into your daily diet and wellness routine. Hildegard though of fennel powder as one of her primary healing foods after surgery and for convalescence and immune building.
Hildegard’s Fennel Applications
° For puffy eyes, steep 2 tsp of roasted fennel seeds or ground fennel seeds in hot water, let steep for 5 minutes or more. Once cool enough to touch, dip the corner of a folded paper towel in the solution and apply to under eye region.
° For weight loss, steep 1/2 tsp roasted fennel seeds in warm water twice a day.
° For a cold, drink warm fennel tea 2-3 times a day.
° For heartburn, bloating and gas, eat a pinch of roasted fennel seeds immediately following a meal.
An Age-old Herbal Tradition
Fennel was well known to the ancients and continues to be a culinary and medicinal plant enjoyed around the world. Take advantage of the availability (most major grocery stores will carry fresh fennel), but better yet, consider adding it to your garden next time around.
In the meantime, enjoy the fresh breath, calm digestion, and energy boost that comes with adding fennel to your diet – just a pinch per day!