Look at this beauty! This lovely towering plant, which is almost as tall as our school building, is FENNEL ~ a digestive rock star.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgaris) is hands down one of the best digestive herbs. This is because it strengthens agni (digestive “fire”), and yet does so without aggravating pitta dosha (the dosha of heat, which is aggravated by hot spices). This makes it rather unique. Fennel is also good for vata and kapha, making it an all-around great digestive herb to keep on hand. And, according to Ayurveda, optimal digestion is fundamental to optimal health! If you don’t digest well, toxins build up and can lead to disease.
One of the best ways to ensure healthy digestion is by utilizing digestive herbs, and fennel is an across-the-board great choice, since it’s safe for everyone ~ all three doshas, young and old. Add it to your cooking, ingest it in capsule form, drink it as a tea. A great way to always have it on hand is to fill a small container with fennel seeds (lightly roasted is best, raw is also ok) and carry it with you everywhere you go, to make sure you always have a safe, natural digestive boost on hand.
Some of the other marvelous features of fennel includes: it dispels gas, it’s a diuretic, great for children’s colic, calming to the nerves, clears phlegm, increases the flow of milk in lactating mothers, and aids in menstruation.
Fennel also mixes well with cumin and coriander in equal parts, for a classic “three cooling digestive spices” tea.
And by the way, no, fennel doesn’t usually grow this tall! This is one happy plant, thanks to Brenda Igler, our resident Herbalist, and her Herbal Apprentices!
By Dr. Marisa Jackson-Kinman, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda