Fennel Seeds: balance the stomach and the intestines

People either smile or frown when asked if they like that black licorice/anise/fennel taste. Perhaps knowing what fennel can do for your stomach will help brighten your impression of this amazing spice.

In India, a teaspoon of fennel seeds (sauf) is often chewed after meals to settle the taste buds and to aid digestion. It also is a natural breath freshener, neutralizing your digestion from the mouth, down into the stomach and later on in your intestines. Fennel helps with occasional and chronic experiences of gas, cramps and indigestion, setting you free from “oh, that was a bad combination” or “i knew that smelled funny but I ate it anyway!”

Nutritionally fennel seeds are very rich in minerals including magnesium. They also contain a compound called anethol which minimizes spasms in smooth muscles such as those in the intestinal tract. These “spasms” are what feel like bloating, cramping and poor assimilation of foods. Anethol provides a similar type of calm that you’re used to hearing about with ginger, cardamom and turmeric, though these ingredients have their own compounds.

For those of you familiar with ayurvedic medicine, fennel seeds soothe the body and mind aspects of pitta, helping balance digestive fire but also bring a sense of calm and peace, that “what a great meal that was” feeling. Fennel also helps apana vata, a subdosha of vata responsible for improving downward flow, which is digestion, elimination and for women the hormonal system.

Recipe:

Start with a tsp or small handful directly after any meal, try it after each meal if you have existing health concerns. The most popular simple recipe is roasted fennel:

Ingredients:

50% raw fennel seeds
50% baked fennel seeds

Preparation:

Spread 5 oz. of fennel seeds in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20   minutes, or until color turns slightly brown. Mix with equal amount of raw fennel seeds. Seal in an airtight container and store away from direct sunlight.

About Kimberly Russell

A student of yoga since 1995, Kimberly has studied and taught in New York, Spain and southern India. She holds advanced international TUV ISO 9001 certifications in Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Ayurvedic Nutrition through the Desikachar Hatha lineage. Kimberly also holds a Masters in Education and a Masters in Health and Healing as a Nationally certified Nutritional Counselor specializing in traditional Eastern and Western philosophies. 

Kimberly’s practice is steeped in the traditional values of yoga as taught to her by her teacher, but is also informed by the energy and pace of New York. 

Kimberly holds office hours in Park Slope Brooklyn and in Manhattan for yoga and/or nutritional therapy.
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