Benefits of Star Anise & Fennel Seeds
Health benefits of Star Anise Star Anise (Illicium verum) is a common healing herb that is also used as spice in numerous dishes. This herb which is native to China is scientifically called as Illicium Verum which originates from the Latin word Illicio. This plant is known to have a flavour almost identical to anise seed, however this isn’t related to that plant in any way. Also, it is one of the more exotic spices that is used in numerous Chinese as well as Indian cuisines. But what people don’t know is that this herb apart from being an active flavouring agent in numerous dishes does possess a good number of health advantages. Some of these advantages are mentioned under. Star anise is a star-shaped spice which is of a rich brown colour with eight corners. In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is prescribed as a digestive aid, promoting health of female reproductive organs and for lactating mothers to increase breast-milk secretion.
Anti-fungal and antibacterial Studies have found that extracts from the star anise plant showed significant promise as a natural anti-fungal. When your body’s internal balance of bacteria and fungi is disturbed, a certain type of yeast — Candida albicans — can grow unchecked. If this happens, it can cause candidiasis, a serious complication. Candida albicans is found naturally in your intestinal tract, mouth and throat. Star anise is very helpful in yeast infections, especially candidiasis, commonly known as candida. A weakened immune system is often unable to fight this fungal infection on its own. Star anise could handle the symptoms of the problem, eradicating the fungus from the mouth, throat, intestines, and genitals effectively. It is mostly used as an essential oil to treat fungal infections for the most potent results. Bacteria can also be killed using star anise essential oil. It can be used for common bacterial infections very effectively. Some species of bacteria have become immune to antibiotics over the years. Scientists have tried to eradicate these bacteria with the help of star anise extracts, and the results have been promising.
Antioxidant Properties Antioxidants target free radicals atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons – that can cause disease and cellular damage. Free radicals can damage cellular DNA and initiate carcinogenesis – the beginnings of cancer. Statistical studies have shown that populations of South-east Asia, that use large amounts of this combination of spices, have a much lower rate of gastric, intestinal and lung cancer.
Stimulates Pancreas For the control of the insulin plus some hormones, pancreas is a crucial organ. Anise seeds assist to promote the pancreas. You’ve got decreased chance for diabetes along with other hormonal difficulties once your pancreas is within great health.
Helps in fighting influenza and cough The active component in star anise Shikimic acid is one of the rarest compounds which is used in anti-flu medicines. Shikimic acid when combined with an plant antioxidant quercetin works as a very effective treatment against influenza and cough. It helps in boosting immunity and it fights against the viral infections.1 cup of star anise tea during cough helps in soothing the symptoms.
Improving digestion Boiling star anise in water with little honey and consuming it after the meals helps in getting rid of bloating, abdominal cramps, indigestion issues and constipation. A cup of star anise tea after every meal would work great! Regular consumption of the spice can help in keeping your gut healthy and aiding better absorption of nutrition in your body.
Women’s health In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is given to lactating women to increase the milk production. Researchers have found that star anise has estrogenic effects because of the presence of anethole which helps in improving the hormonal disorders in women. It helps in reducing the occurrence of illnesses (Boosts the immune system) during pregnancy. Consumption of star anise for pregnant women should be completely under doctor’s supervision. Insomnia In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is given to provide good night’s sleep. It is shown to have mild sedative effects.1 cup of star anise tea before bed helps in giving good sleep.
Health Benefits of Fennel Seed Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) is a perennial, pleasant-smelling herb with yellow flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but is now found throughout the world. Dried fennel seeds are often used in cooking as an anise-flavored spice. But don’t confuse fennel with anise; though they look and taste similar, they are not the same. Fennel’s dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine.
Prevents Anemia Iron and histidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are both helpful in the treatment of anemia. Whereas iron is the chief constituent of hemoglobin, histidine stimulates the production of hemoglobin and also helps in the formation of various other components of the blood.
Treats Indigestion It is a common practice, particularly in the Indian Subcontinent, to chew fennel seeds after meals. This is done to facilitate digestion and to eliminate bad breath. Some of the components of the essential oils in fennel are stimulants and they stimulate secretion of digestive and gastric juices while reducing inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and facilitating proper absorption of nutrients from the food. Furthermore, it can eliminate constipation and, thereby, protect the body from a wide range of intestinal troubles that can stem from being blocked up. It also has anti-acidic (basic) properties and is extensively used in antacid preparations. In culinary applications, it is also used as an ingredient of a focal point in many appetizers.
Removes Flatulence Fennel is very popular as an anti-flatulent, due to the carminative properties of the aspartic acid found in fennel. Its extract can be used by everyone, from infants to the elderly, as a way to reduce flatulence and to expel excess gas from the stomach. It is commonly used in medicines to reduce symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia and flatulence in infants and young children.
Treats Constipation Fennel seeds, particularly in powdered form, can act as a laxative. The roughage helps clear the bowels, whereas its stimulating effect helps maintain the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines, thereby helping promote proper excretion through the stimulation of gastric juices and bile production. Fennel is also commonly found in medicines that treat abdominal pain, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and other intestinal issues.
Reduces Heart Diseases Fennel is a great source of fiber, as mentioned above, but besides the advantages to digestion that fiber provides, it also helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This means that it can stimulate the elimination of damaging LDL cholesterol, which is a major factor in heart diseases, atherosclerosis, and strokes.
Prevents Cancer The raw vegetable of fennel itself hasn’t been extensively studied in regards to cancer protection, but the fennel seed extract has, and the findings regarding cancer protection are quite impressive. It shows that the extract can not only inhibit the growth of tumors, thanks to its concentrations of flavonoids, alkaloids, and phenols but that it can even be somewhat chemo-protective against the harmful effects of radiation during cancer treatment. Fennel seed extract has been found to be preventative of various breast cancer and liver cancer strains.
Regulates Blood Pressure Fennel is a very rich source of potassium, which is an essential nutrient in our bodies and is vital for a number of important processes. One of the attributes of potassium is its quality as a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the tension of blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure is connected to a wide range of health issues, including heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Also, for diabetic patients, blood pressure issues can make management of their insulin and glucose levels very difficult and can be the cause of many potentially lethal complications. A cup of fennel bulb in your daily diet will pump you full of potassium and all the benefits that come along with it.
Improves Brain Function Potassium, found in high levels in fennel bulbs and seeds, is an electrolyte, which means that it facilitates increased electrical conduction throughout the body. This includes connections within the brain, which is a veritable switchboard of electric currents. Potassium can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities through this quality. Also, fennel is a vasodilator, which means more oxygen reaches the brain and neural activity can work at optimal functionality.
Treats Diarrhea Fennel is helpful in curing diarrhea if it is caused by bacterial infections because some components of the essential oil in fennel such as anethol and cineole have disinfectant and antibacterial properties. Some amino acids, such as histidine, can aid in digestion and the proper functioning of the digestive system, thereby helping to eliminate diarrhea due to indigestion. Fennel has long been used by indigenous cultures as a way to eliminate diarrhea. Treats Colic Polymeric and heavy molecules are useful in the treatment of Renal Colic. Such polymers, also called Phytoestrogens, are found in Anethole, a component of the essential oil in fennel. This attribute of fennel makes it quite helpful in the treatment of Renal Colic. Fennel has certain antispasmodic qualities which also help it relax smooth muscles and reduce the discomfort associated with the condition. Boosts Immunity 1 cup of fennel bulb contains almost 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin C, which makes fennel quite a rich source of this beneficial element of our diet. Vitamin C improves general immune system health, produces and repairs skin tissue, helps to form collagen, and also protects the blood vessel walls as an antioxidant against the harmful effects of free radicals that can frequently lead to heart disease.
Regulates Menstruation Fennel is also an Emenagogue, meaning that it eases and regulates menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. Furthermore, fennel is used in a number of products to reduce the effects of PMS, and it is also used traditionally as a soothing pain reliever and relaxing agent for menopausal women.
Promotes Breast Enlargement The flavonoids present in fennel seeds increase the amount of estrogen thereby acting as a stimulant and tonic. Fennel seeds help increase the size of the breasts as they increase the formation of new cells and tissues in the breast.
Eye Care Using fennel in food helps protect the eyes from inflammation, as well as helping to reduce disorders related to premature aging and macular degeneration. This is due to the high abundance of antioxidants (vitamin C and amino acids like Arginine are very beneficial for rejuvenation of tissues and the prevention of aging), detoxifiers and stimulants. They are more specifically found in fennel essential oil, as well as minerals like cobalt and magnesium. Finally, the juice of fennel leaves and the plant itself can be externally applied to the eyes to reduce irritation and eye fatigue. Fennel is also a rich source of flavonoids, which are very useful in protecting against pigment cells dying due to oxidative-stress-induced death. By protecting against this destruction of the pigment cells, fennel can safely be classified as effective in eye health for numerous reasons.
Treats Respiratory Disorders Fennel is useful in respiratory disorders such as congestion, bronchitis, and cough due to the presence of Cineole and Anethol, which are expectorant in nature, among their many other virtues. Fennel seeds and powder can help to break up phlegm and prompt loosening of the toxins and buildup of the throat and nasal passages for elimination from the body and quicker recovery from respiratory conditions.
Other Benefits & Uses Fennel is diuretic, which means that it increases the amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping the removal of toxic substances from the body and helping in rheumatism and swelling. Fennel also increases production and secretion of milk in lactating mothers and since this milk contains some properties of fennel, it is an anti-flatulent for the baby as well. It strengthens hair, prevents hair loss, relaxes the body, sharpens memory and has a marvelous cooling effect in summer. This can be achieved if the pale, greenish-yellow water, in which it is soaked, is ingested with a bit of sugar and black salt.