When I think of fennel, I don’t often think about the health benefits of fennel seeds. Instead, I think of an Indian restaurant, with a cute little dish of sweet saunfand (saunf is Hindi for fennel) and a matching spoon at the host’s station, available as a digestif.
The crunchy sweetness with a hint of anise is a great way to finish off a meal and cleanse the mouth, but there are many more reasons to add fennel to your pantry.
Hildegard’s Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Hildegard of Bingen emphasized the health benefits of fennel. She believed Fennel had many benefits, fresh breath being one of them, but she saw fennel as a plant with truly holistic health benefits. Hildegard though of a fennel based herbal powder (see our recipe below) as one of her primary healing foods after surgery and for convalescence and immune building.
“And whatever it is eaten, makes people happy and gives warmth, good welding and good digestion…reduces the evil mucus or Fäulnisse in it, and suppressed the foul odor of the breath… “ – Hildegard von Bingen
Welding and the human body? Huh? Considering its definition to “cause to combine and form a harmonious or effective whole,” I would think welding is a benefit.
Incorporating fennel seeds into your daily regime doesn’t require a DIY session to make sweet saunf – though do let us know if you try. Simply roasting the seeds for a few minutes in a small pan will provide you with a base to use for a fennel seed tea, to add to warm water or even to eat (1/2 tsp doses after meals is sufficient.)
What to do with Fennel Seeds?
Fresh fennel can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for about four days, but it is best to eat fennel as soon as possible, as it loses flavor over time. Try or recipes for a fennel soup or fennel in coconut milk.
The dried or roasted fennel seeds can last for about six months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Once you have a supply of roasted fennel seeds, there are many easy ways to incorporate fennel into your daily diet and wellness routine.
Fennel Seeds Applications
° For puffy eyes, steep 2 tsp of roasted fennel seeds or ground fennel seeds in hot water, let steep for 5 minutes or more. Once cool enough to touch, dip the corner of a folded paper towel in the solution and apply to under eye region.
° For weight loss, steep 1/2 tsp roasted fennel seeds in warm water twice a day.
° For a cold, drink warm fennel tea 2-3 times a day.
° For heartburn, bloating and gas, eat a pinch of roasted fennel seeds immediately following a meal.
Hildegard’s Fennel Herbal Powder
Hildegard used the fennel herbal powder for myriad health issues such as improving circulation, accelerating metabolism, and strengthening the immune system. She considered her fennel herbal powder a cure-all for accelerating recovery and among her primary healing foods for after surgery or illness (Hildegard also had a special preference for yarrow plant uses before and after invasive surgeries). And she even recommended fennel herb powder use for managing excessive sweating, which she thought to be a sign of unstable health.
Hildegard’s fennel herb powder consists of galangal root, fennel fruit, and dittany. These are three of Hildegard’s most valuable herbal remedies. Some formulas for Hildegard’s fennel herb powder also include hawkweed, a ubiquitous plant closely related to dandelion and chicory.
Making Fennel Powder at Home
To make Hildegard’s fennel herbal powder, combine ½ a cup of powdered fennel fruit, ¼ cup galangal powder and 2 tablespoons of powdered dittany root. In that combination, fennel herbal powder strengthens overall health and well-being while the combination of these herbs deliver an effective healing agent to promote gradual recovery and recuperation from illness.
Fennel Powder- A Staple in Hildegard Medicine
Since the rediscovery of Hildegard of Bingen medicine, Hildegard’s Fennel herbal powder has become a popular remedy in Germany. Used to maintain overall health and well-being, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the metabolism, and improve cardiovascular health, the remedy is an easy way to incorporate a few of Hildegard’s highest regarded herbs into your every day life.
According to Hildegard medicine it’s also useful for digestion as an aperitif, to reduce excessive sweating, and for infarction patients with thrombosis, hypertension, angina pectoris, or heart pressure. She also believed it produces a healthy complexion, particularly for those discolored by kidney disease.
How Much to Take of Fennel Powder
Ideally, take 2-3 pinches (or, 2-3 tablets) of the fennel herbal powder an hour after lunch, along with warm parsley honey wine.
What Hildegard Says about Fennel Powder
“One hour after the lunch meal, drink the fennel herbal powder mixture in warm, but not hot wine. This mixture preserves health in those that are healthy, and for those who are sick, it offers resistance, improves digestion, gives strength, and a delicate, beautiful complexion. Take it again after dinner (in warm wine). It benefits everyone, whether healthy or sick.” – Hildegard of Bingen
Fennel- An Age-old Herbal Tradition
Fennel was well known to the ancients and continues to be a culinary and medicinal plant enjoyed around the world. Take advantage of the availability (most major grocery stores will carry fresh fennel), but better yet, consider adding it to your garden next time around.
In the meantime, enjoy the fresh breath, calm digestion, and energy boost that comes with adding fennel to your diet – just a pinch per day!