How to Use Fennel Seeds for Gas, Cramps and Bloating
In herbal medicine fennel seeds are recognized as a powerful carminative – a herb that assists in expelling gas from your intestinal tract.
Here’s how these powerful little seeds reduce gastrointestinal problems and flatulence, a few potential precautions to be aware of and two ways to use fennel seeds to help prevent or treat intestinal cramps, bloating and embarrassing gas.
How Fennel Seeds Help Digestive Problems
In India, dried fennel seeds are incredibly popular as an aid to digestion and have been used for this purpose for thousands of years. A small amount of the seeds are routinely chewed after a meal, both to freshen the breath and to stimulate digestion.
Modern scientific studies on the properties of fennel seeds are showing that their rich volatile oil content is primarily responsible for these digestive benefits and ability to clear intestinal gas so effectively. Compounds like anethole, fenchone and estragole appear to have anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that relax contracted intestinal muscles and allow trapped gas to dissipate.
The volatile oils in fennel seeds are also believed to stimulate bile for better digestion, thus preventing these problems from happening in the first place. A great tasting fennel tea, or chewing half a teaspoon of the fresh seeds is a simple way to prevent or treat many digestive problems like gas, bloating and cramps.
Regular fennel seeds or fennel seed tea has even proven effective for many people with more serious digestive disorders like IBS. More about how to treat this debilitating condition naturally here.
Fennel Seeds Versus Flatulence
While certain foods can definitely increase your instance of flatulence, most commonly excessive and smelly gas is a result of the food you eat getting trapped or delayed in the lower intestine and fermenting.
Chewing on fennel seeds can help prevent this by improving the digestive process. As both food that is being digested and any resulting gas moves through your digestive system more quickly, there is far less chance of noxious compounds building up to a point where you have to quickly leave the room or risk a bunch of questioning looks.
With the possible exception of activated charcoal (which does require more complex timing), fennel seeds, either chewed or made into a tea after your meal, are one of the best natural gas cures available.
Let’s have a look at a couple of precautions to be aware of and then two ways to use fennel seeds to prevent both digestive problems and excessive flatulence.
Side Effects of Fennel Seeds
- Dried fennel seeds are generally considered safe. So safe in fact that diluted fennel seed tea is often recommended as a treatment for colic in babies.
- As is common with most potent herbal products, fennel seed is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Some older studies suggest large doses of fennel seeds may have a mildly estrogenic effect, though more recent research is contradicting this and lists fennel as having quite low phytoestrogen activity. Occasional use of fennel seeds for treating gas should not have any impact on hormone levels for either men or women.
- As a precaution, women being treated for hormone sensitive health conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian, uterine or breast cancer are advised to avoid fennel seeds and many other types of herbs, as well as stronger estrogenic foods like soybeans.
- Allergic reactions to fennel and it seeds are very rare, though more likely in those who are also allergic to carrots, celery or dill. Consult a health professional if you suspect an allergic reaction after chewing fennel seeds or drinking fennel seed tea.
- Finally, fennel seed essential oil is a highly concentrated product with specific applications and should not be used internally without medical supervision. Regular fennel seeds are powerful enough for relieving gas so there’s no need to use the essential oil for this purpose.
2 Ways to Use Fennel Seeds for Better Digestion and Less Flatulence
1. The simplest way to use fennel seeds to prevent gas is to simply buy a bag of high quality organic seeds like these that I use and chew around half a teaspoon or a good pinch after a meal and swallow them.
You’ll probably recognize the liquorice/aniseed flavor from Indian dishes. The taste is relatively strong and far from sweet but not unpleasant to my taste buds.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend the candy coated fennel seeds for digestive problems. Sugar is one of the causes of flatulence and really, not everything should taste sweet (I swear we’re getting to a point where sugar is in or on just about everything).
A far better option if you don’t think you could chew fennel seeds regularly is freshly brewed fennel tea (perhaps with a drop of stevia extract rather than sugar if you really need it).
2. Fennel seed tea is quite refreshing and very effective for bloating and gas as it travels quickly through the gastrointestinal tract to where it’s needed.
You can make homemade fennel seed tea by adding a teaspoon of organic fennel seeds to a cup and pouring boiling water over them. Leave it to sit for 5 minutes, strain if you like (I rarely bother) and sip for relief from trapped intestinal gas and bloating in as little as 5 to 10 minutes.
There are also high strength fennel teas available which are convenient for work or traveling. After testing a few of these, I believe Heather’s tummy tea is the strongest and best and the many reviews seem to agree.
I hope you’ll give fennel seeds or fennel seed tea a try if gas, bloating and other intestinal problems have been regular issues for you. Some people may find it surprising, but often natural herbs are simply more effective than pharmaceuticals (and a lot less expensive).
Fennel seeds actually has many other health properties and you can read more about them in this popular article on the benefits of fennel tea. Have you had success with using fennel seeds for intestinal gas, digestive issues of flatulence? I be interested to hear your experiences with this powerful herbal treatment.
Photo 1: glaukos / Photo 2: Girl Interrupted Eating
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