Updated: Apr 25
AUTHOR: Lee Reicheneder
Fennel is a herb that contains compounds that closely resemble hormone estrogens (phytoestrogens). As a result, fennel is considered to be a galactagogue, which in basic terms is a medication or food that increases breastmilk production. Fennel has been widely used in Ayurveda throughout the years and is a herb you will often hear recommended by families or even Non-Ayurveda practitioners (or those who work with Ayurveda systems) for a variety of reasons. In fact, fennel is often regarded as a predominantly cooling herb (yet can still provide a little heating within the body) which is believed to assist with digestion and as a breath freshener; fennel has a predominately nutty but sweet flavor with a hint of bitter to it (although some say it tastes like licorice). Fennel can be used as a vegetable, as seeds whole or ground, and some people even use it as an oil.
From an Ayurveda perspective Fennel can be broken down into the following qualities:
Rasa (taste of food) : Sweet, Pungent, Bitter
Virya (second level of digestion): Heating (a little) - although many Ayurveda sources regard it more as cooling
Vipaka (third level of digestion - the deep taste of food) : Sweet
Qualities: Delicate, light
Actions on the doshas: Balances Vata, Pitta & Kapha
In Ayurveda, this is regarded as spice useful for treating most forms of digestive upsets. These may include:
digestive discomfort, cramps, nausea, flatulence, and dull digestion/metabolism or low Agni (low Agni is usually where you display a poor appetite, feel heavy and lethargic, and have decreased energy - Agni is your digestive fiber). It is also believed that fennel can reduce urinary problems, menstrual difficulties, nervous tension in the muscles, support the nervous system and as mentioned above promote the production of breastmilk. Fennel is able to get the air/ether intelligence in the body (vata) moving in the right direction while promoting digestive fire without aggravating the fire/water intelligence in the body (pitta). Very few herbs or spices can work so well with all systems in the body without aggravating another system - and fennel is one of those amazing spices that work well with all systems without the aggravation of another. In fact, if using fennel as a vegetable in meals alongside other foods that may create digestive upset can often work to reduce the impact of digestive upset.
From a scientific, more conventional, less traditional perspective Fennel is rich in vitamins A, C, K, potassium, and antioxidants. It has also been demonstrated over a small number of studies conducted to potentially be: galactagogue (promotes breastmilk production), expectorant and anti-tussive (alleviates coughs & breaks up congestion), diuretic, and carminative (relieves flatulence). However, there are only limited scientific peer-reviewed studies available on this herb and as a consequence, much of what we know at this time is based on anecdotal evidence and information passed on through generations through traditional practitioners or healers. More conventional peer-reviewed studies still need to be carried out to provide further information about this spice. Fennel may also cause a 'decrease' in breastmilk supply and production if over-used.
In terms of safety, fennel may have a moderate interaction with the following medications: birth control pills, ciprofloxacin, estrogen pills, and tamoxifen. There are concerns that fennel may decrease the effectiveness of those particular medications and it is also not recommended for those who struggle with estrogen-related conditions which could be aggravated by fennel (however; it is important to note that some studies have demonstrated that fennel may benefit those who struggle with a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS). It is also important to note that if you have an allergy to celery, carrots or other plants in the Apiaceae family allergen risk with fennel consumption is higher for this reason some sources recommend avoiding it altogether for those with these known allergens. It is also not recommended for use during pregnancy with the exception of incredibly small culinary amounts in cooking as a flavor only. Furthermore, there are some concerns that fennel may increase the risk of seizures and may lower blood sugar levels in some people. If you struggle
with issues related to low blood sugar, or have a history of seizures, epilepsy or are on epilepsy medication then fennel consumption may not be best for you; it is best to speak with a medical professional to discuss these factors and any other potential cautions or risks that you may need to be aware of prior to consumption of fennel. Regardless of how amazing the benefits of fennel consumption may be.
Fennel Tea Recipe
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tea strainer or re-usable tea bag
1 teapot that can hold around 2 cups of water or thermos (should be able to hold roughly 2 cups of water)
2 cups of Water
Place fennel seeds in the strainer or teabag then sit on/in your teapot or thermos
Fill teapot or thermos with roughly 2 cups of boiling water
Let sit for 5-10 minutes (MAKE SURE IT DOES NOT SIT FOR LONGER THAN 10 MINUTES)
Remove the tea strainer or tea bag - It is best to keep consumption at no more than 2 cups per day. If you have a thermos you can sip your tea throughout the day. This is also great with honey or maple syrup and if you prefer iced tea this can be enjoyed cold with or without added juice.
ARTICLE DISCLAIMER: Lee is a Canberra Doula who also spent over 5 years working in the childcare field as a childcare educator (including as a Room Leader); she holds relevant children's services qualifications alongside Doula qualifications. In addition, Lee holds a wide range of qualifications and training in fields that include but are not limited to trauma and natural therapies. Lee is a proud Aspie woman and mother of 5 children (2 with disabilities). If you have concerns about your child's development, family member's wellbeing or your own wellbeing speak to your Midwife or Doctor. Furthermore, a small commission is made on some of the links provided within these blog articles
#fenneltea #fennelandbreastfeeding #postpartumdoulasupportcanberra #canberradoula #canberrapostnataldoula #ayurvedadoulacanberra
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