Used by many cultures as a digestive aid, fennel, or shatapushpa, means what possess a hundred flowers in Sanskrit. Found growing wild along California highways, this tall, aromatic plant with brightly colored yellow flowers is edible from its’ bulb, stalk, fronds, and seeds. Used medicinally for centuries, fennel is associated with longevity and strength. This could be due to fennel’s ability to helps the gut digest. Allowing for better absorption and assimilation of nutrients. To become stronger and live longer healthier lives.
A cooling carminative, fennel seeds—relieve flatulence without increasing internal heat or tejas in the body. Nor will it hinder the agni, or digestive fires. This valuable trait makes fennel especially beneficial spice or food for pitta (fire + water) imbalances. Like, hot flashes, inflammation, indigestion, acid-reflex, or other ailments connected to the small intestine.
While fennel has a cooling impact on the body-mind, it’s carminative properties support the digestive process. In preventing blockages, like bloating or flatulence, air or vata dosha can circulate. Air kindles the digestive fire, known as agni in Sanskrit. The strength of our agni enables food to transform, digest into absorbable nutrients for the body to absorb and eliminate. While fennel promotes circulation, it’s volatile oils also activate the digestive juices. The acids we need for optimal digestion. In Ayurveda, the state of our digestion is essential in determining the health of an individual. Not only from an absorption perspective, but also in preventing the ama, or toxic build-up. Which is considered to be a trigger for dis-ease in the body-mind.
From a nutrient perspective, fennel provides vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, folic acid, magnesium, iron, and calcium—another great reason to spice it up! Both aromatically and in supporting digestion, fennel can calm the nervous system. Whiles the antispasmodic properties relieve intestinal spasms or cramps. Fennel is also a stomatic, tones and strengthens the stomach. As a diuretic, fennel supports the urinary systems and the phytoestrogens make it helpful for PMS or symptoms related to menopause.
During the fall and spring, fennel season brings the bulbs, stalks and fronds to the table. Supporting our health in the fall, when nervose energy, bloating and gas can increase. While in the spring, fennel’s light and dry qualities counterbalance the heavy and wet nature of Spring. Releasing excess heat and water, with its diuretic properties gathered from Fall and Winter’s warming spice and heavy meals. In-turn, preparing our bodies for the summer season.
In the summer, or in any season, we can benefit from fennel through its hardy seeds. Where its sweet, yet pungent, licorice type flavor is further intensified. Bringing a delicious and balancing touch to summer bbq’s to homemade salad dressings. In adding cooling spices like fennel seeds to spicy-hot, acidic foods counterbalances a meal’s qualities a meal, while also fostering balance within.
According to Ayurveda, like attracts like, and opposites decrease—creating balance. Incorporating this wisdom of counterbalancing through spices like nutritional fennel is also an effective way to support digestive health. Keep it cool, and keep it kindling with fennel seeds.
THE BENEFITS OF FENNEL
- Improves digestion
- Removes toxins
- Helps absorb nutrients
- Prevents/Treats bloating, gas, belching, acidity (pitta imbalances)
- Calms the nervous system
- Freshens breath
- Relieves intestinal spasms or cramps
- Supports the urinary systems through its’ diuretic actions
- Phytoestrogens make it helpful for PMS, or symptoms related to menopause
- Aids with excess acidity with its cooling energy
HOW TO INCORPORATE FENNEL SEEDS INTO THE DIET
- Eat a handful of roasted fennel seeds after a meal
- Drink fennel tea
- Crush fennel seeds into your masala chai or lemonade
- Make strawberry fennel jam
- Create a fennel based rub for your next BBQ—tastes great with cumin & coriander
- Add 1/2 tsp or so of crushed seeds to your favorite vegetable saute, soup, salad, pasta, etc…
- Combine with other kitchen spices like black pepper, cumin or coriander to create a balanced spice mix.
Taste/Energy/Post-Digestive Effect: Pungent,Bitter/Cooling/Pungent