Fennel is native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows wild in the fields and on hillsides. One of the oldest plants used in herbal medicine (in ancient china fennel is valued as a cure for visual ailments), it is now cultivated for medicinal purposes in many parts of the world, including USA, Europe, Asia and Africa. Between July and September, the plant grows large golden yellow flower clusters, which produce the new seeds. When the flowers are mature, the seeds are harvested and dried and can then be crushed and brewed to produce a highly potent medicinal tea. Today fennel tea is perhaps best known for its antispasmodic and anti cramping properties. In addition, it stimulates the appetite, promotes good digestion and is an excellent remedy for gas. Because the tea is safe and gentle, it can be mixed into food for infants and children.
Preparation of Tea
Pour ¾ cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp. of freshly crushed fennel seeds. Allow this mixture to steep on a h0ot stove for 5-10 min., but do not allow it to boil again. Drink this tea for the relief of digestive complaints. The recommended dose is 1 cup of tea 3 times a day, between meals. Three to six weeks of this daily fennel tea regimen usually brings relief. Children older than 5 yrs of age should take only half of this amount; infants should be given one-eighth of the adult dose.
Fennel seeds contain an essential oil with the important active ingredients anethole, fenchone and estragole. The tea made from the crushed seeds, acts as an expectorant. In the digestive tract, fennel tea removes toxins and inhibits excessive intestinal fermentation, thereby reducing gas. To reduce inflammation or swelling around the eyes, apply compresses soaked in fennel tea.
To treat indigestion
Fennel tea is helpful for the relief of bloating and flatulence. The so called "four winds tea blend", which contains equal parts fennel, anisc caraway and coriander seeds, has proved especially useful for this purpose. All four of these herbs have similar therapeutic properties and uses.
To ease congestion
Due to its mucus-dissolving properties, fennel tea is often used as an expectorant for the treatment of whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. It can also be used as a gargle for a sore throat.
To relieve digestive complaints in infants and children
Fennel tea's sweet flavour and antispasmodic effect make it a good choice for children with stomach upset. In infants with colic, a few tbsp. of fennel tea bring fast relief. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of crushed fennel seeds. Allow it to steep for 10 min and then strain. The tea is also helpful to older children with abdominal pain and flatulence. You can make fennel tea with milk instead of water or use the tea to thin whole milk or pureed foods.
To promote lactation
In folk medicine, fennel tea is commonly used to increase milk flow in nursing mothers. To make the tea, use 1 tsp. of crushed seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 min. and then strain. Drink at least 3 cups of the tea each day. The infusion may also relieve breast infections or nipple soreness. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm tea and apply it to the affected area of the skin.
To treat eye inflammation
Bring ½ cup of water and 2 tsp. of crushed fennel seeds to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. Soak a gauze compress in the lukewarm tea, cover your eyes with it and leave it on for 15 min. Or, use the tea as an eyewash.
Healing tea mixtures
For bronchitis and coughs
1 ½ oz. fennel seeds
1 oz. dandelion leaves
1 oz. mullein flowers
Use 1-2 tsp. of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep the mixture for 10 min.; strain. Sweeten the teas with 1 tsp of honey to enhance its expectorant effect and relieve coughs quickly.
For asthma and whooping cough
1 oz. fennel seeds
1 oz. anise seeds
2/3 oz. marsh-mellow root
2/3 oz. thyme
Use 1-2 tsp. of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 min; strain. Sip atleast 3 cups of the tea daily to relax the airways and relieve spasms.
For flatulence in adults and colic in infants
1 ½ oz. fennel seeds
1 oz. caraway seeds
1 oz. anise seeds
Use 1-2 tsp. of the herbs per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 min; strain. Sweeten with honey if desired, unless the tea is to be given to an infant.