Fennel, Orange, & Lavender Tea, a Functional Beverage to Calm Digestive Disturbances
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
For many of us, the holidays bring more food and more family, which can both be a lot to digest! My signature Fennel, Orange, & Lavender Tea is a simple and calming, functional remedy for overstimulation and digestive disturbances over the holidays and beyond. Read on for the recipe.
What is fennel?
Fennel is an herb, a vegetable, and a spice. It’s a favorite ingredient in Italian, French and Mediterranean recipes, especially for fish dishes, spicy sausages, marinades and dressings. Fennel is in the same family as licorice, giving it that unique salty-sour taste and sweet smell. Like licorice, people either love fennel or they’re just not a fan.
While I’ve already shared my love for the vegetable with the feathery fronds on this blog, it’s high time I talk to you about the sweet little seed. Regardless of which flavor camp you’re in, read on to learn what fennel can do for you.
Fennel seeds pack a punch as they’re rich in a variety of volatile essential oil compounds including anethole, limonene, anisic aldehyde, pinene, myrcene, fenchone, chavicol, and cineole. And while those might sound like unfamiliar chemicals, I assure you, they’re powerful chemicals of the natural and curative sort. In fact, it’s those oils that make fennel magical as a powerful antioxidant and digestive aid.
Fennel as an herbal remedy for digestive disturbances
While some of its close cousins in the vegetable family (like cabbage and cauliflower) might cause bloating and gas, fennel seeds are known as a powerful carminative, an herb that helps dispel or expel trapped gas from your digestive tract.
In fact, fennel has been used throughout Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian civilizations for its ability to relieve flatulence and other gastrointestinal issues. If you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant and saw a little bowl of seeds at the counter, that’s fennel. It’s common practice in India to chew the seeds after a meal both to help freshen breath and to stimulate digestion.
Fennel seeds also help stimulate bile flow, soothe stomach cramps, and relax the colon, all helping to relieve post-meal discomfort. They ensure that your food is indeed digested and absorbed.
Fennel can even help relieve severe symptoms associated with Crohn’s, colitis, and IBS. As excitingly, clinical research (and good ‘ol mama wisdom) also shows fennel to be helpful in soothing symptoms for babies with colic. Diluted fennel tea is considered safe for infants, but be sure to do a proper assessment before giving to a little one.
So it’s no surprise why fennel seed is considered to be one of the best herbal remedies for relieving digestive disturbances. And let’s face it, we might all need a little help in that department (especially during the holiday season)!
Other functional benefits of fennel
On a non-digestive note, fennel is known to be a mild diuretic and can help flush excess water and toxins out of the body. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint and muscle pain.
Some wise women herbalists say that fennel helps to increase the flow of breast milk, ease the birth process, decrease PMS symptoms, and stoke sex drive! Note, there’s not much clinical evidence for these claims yet, but you might want to try some fennel tea as it will do no harm and could very well do your body good. I’ve got just the recipe for you below.
Simple ways to use more fennel over the holidays
Fennel can help us avoid that not-so-celebratory-feeling of being overstuffed and in need of digestive rescue. Let fennel free you up so you can enjoy the true beauty of the holiday season with gratitude, good food, and perhaps best of all, digestive peace.
Here are some of my other favorite ways to feature fennel in post-holiday meals:
- Chew and swallow a good pinch (10- 15 seeds) of fennel seeds after meals to aid digestion
- Brew a simple fennel tea by adding 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds to 1 cup boiling water, let steep for 5 minutes, strain, and sip as needed to relieve gas or bloating
- Add fennel seeds, whole or crushed, to marinades, dressings, soups, fish, vegetable dishes, and baked treats. Fennel and beets are one of my favorite combs!
- Gently toast the seeds in a dry skillet or crush the seeds to bring out the flavor, fragrance, and those important essential oils
- For on-the-go digestive support, purchase tea bags with fennel like Gaia Herbs or Traditional Medicinals
Happy Holidays to you!
Fennel, Orange & Lavender Milky Tea
- 1 cup brewed Earl Grey or herbal orange blossom tea
- 1 cup cashew or coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp dried lavender
- zest of one organic orange
- maple syrup to taste (or liquid stevia)
- Brew the tea as you normally would.
- Gently simmer milk, fennel seeds, cardamom, dried lavender and orange zest in a small saucepan for 5 minutes.
- Strain and pour into hot brewed tea. Sweeten to taste. Top with an orange slice.
Korinek M, Handoussa H, Tsai YH, et al. Anti-Inflammatory and Antimicrobial Volatile Oils: Fennel and Cumin Inhibit Neutrophilic Inflammation via Regulating Calcium and MAPKs. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:674095. Published 2021 Oct 11. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.674095
Das B, Rabalais J, Kozan P, et al. The effect of a fennel seed extract on the STAT signaling and intestinal barrier function. PLoS One. 2022;17(7):e0271045. Published 2022 Jul 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0271045
Liu H, Li J, Lin S, Liu T, Zheng C. Effects of dietary fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) seed powder supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, small intestinal morphology, and carcass traits of broilers. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10308. Published 2021 Jan 28. doi:10.7717/peerj.10308
Alexandrovich I, Rakovitskaya O, Kolmo E, Sidorova T, Shushunov S. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003;9(4):58-61.
Badgujar SB, Patel VV, Bandivdekar AH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicology. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:842674. doi:10.1155/2014/842674
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