Fennel Seeds (Saunf or Souff) Health Benefits & Side Effects

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Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum Vulgare Seeds) are also called SAUNF (SOUFF) in Hindi (in India). These are highly aromatic and flavorsome dried seeds of fennel plant. Fennel has medicinal as well as culinary uses. It provides marvelous flavors and is frequently used in Indian cooking.

Fennel Taste

Fennel seeds (souff) are sweet and woody in taste. It has many health benefiting nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Fennel seeds have been utilized for treating indigestion, diarrhea, colic and respiratory ailments. It is also beneficial in eye problems and menstrual disorders.

People commonly chew fennel seeds after a meal in India, as it helps to digest food and prevents the formation of gas in stomach. It is an aromatic herb, which is also used as a mouth freshener. It also relieves gum disease or toothache.

Fresh Harvested Fennel
Fresh Harvested Fennel

Fennel Seeds Benefits

Health Benefits of fennel include its ability to preclude abdominal diseases, prevent gas formation and to help in weight loss, indigestion, cancer, aging,

Helps in Weight loss

The Greek name of fennel is ‘marathon’ derived from ‘Marino’, which means to grow thin. Fennel seeds are a metabolic enhancer. Fennel boosts fat metabolism and prevents excess fat accumulation. It helps one to reduce weight.

In low dosage (less than 3 grams per day), it can increase appetite and acts as digestive. However, it might act as an appetite suppressant (reported by some studies conducted on fennel tea). Actually, it keeps your appetite as natural as it should be and helps you to have a good appetite control.

If you have loss of appetite, then it will help to modulate gastric secretion and improve liver functions, which ultimately normalizes your appetite. It also neutralizes the excess gastric secretion and helps to reduce hyperacidity.

If you have an increased appetite, then it can also help to normalize the appetite and improve your control on food cravings. Many people reported to have a good control of food craving after using fennel seeds, but they also experience increased craving for fennel seeds itself.

In obesity, appetite modulation action might not be significant like Moringa Oleifera. It mainly acts on fat metabolism and induces burning of the accumulated fat.

Prevents aging and cancer

Fennel seeds (souff) contain anti-oxidants like quercetin and kaempferol. These anti-oxidants remove toxic radicals in the body and prevent cancers, neurological diseases and aging. The body skin tells the age of a person. The anti-oxidants in fennel seeds help in keeping the skin fair and young. The fibre in fennel seed protects the colon mucus membrane from cancer. Fennel oil can be used in an oil blend. It can be massaged in the face and neck overnight to tone the skin and prevent wrinkles. Fennel seeds, soaked in water made into a paste mixed with oatmeal and honey, are a great face pack to prevent aging of skin. It is a very effective scrub to cleanse, firm and freshen the skin.

Helps in Digestion

Fennel seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber. Our body needs the insoluble fiber for better functioning of the stomach relieving one of a condition such as constipation. The dietary fibers bind with the bile salts and prevent it from getting absorbed into the system. The bile salts produced by cholesterol are harmful for the body and raises cholesterol levels. Consuming fennel seeds can help keeping the cholesterol under control. It is an anti-emetic, purgative and a hepatic herb.

Good source of Minerals, vitamins and Oils

It is a good source of Iron, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium. Each of the nutrients is needed for proper functioning of the human body.

Fennel is a storehouse of vitamins A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. All these vitamins are in a concentrated form in these seeds. It consists of essential oils, which have great health benefits. These oils are carminative in nature and help in better functioning of the stomach. Oil of fennel relieves muscular pains. Hence, it is used in massage blends, especially in ayurveda. It calms the nerves and promotes mental clarity.

Acts as a coolant

Fennel seeds have properties, which cools the body. During the scorching summers, generally people consume Fennel seeds drink to relieve heat.

Medicinal use of fennel

Common Cold

Fennel seeds (saunf) eliminate cold. Fennel seeds contain alpha-pinene and creosol, which helps in loosening congestion, and make coughs productive.

Bronchitis & Asthma

Boiling fennel seeds and leaves and inhaling them provides relief from asthma and bronchitis.

Sore Throat

Fennel seeds are also good for pharyngitis and sore throat or sinus problems.

Increases Breast Milk

Fennel seeds (souff) help lactating mothers by improving the milk production.

Fennels Seeds in Infants

Fennel seeds help relieving gastro-intestinal issues. Fennel oil relieves colic in infants.

Snakebites

Fennel powder can be used as a poultice for snakebites.

Heat Stroke

In case of heat stroke, one can soak handful of fennel in water overnight. Have the strained water in the morning with a pinch of salt.

Fennel Oil massage

Fennel oils used in massage oil blend helps detoxify body. Due to this massage, there are fewer toxins in the body to flare up the conditions like arthritis, immune disorders and allergies.

Fennel in ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, use of fennel as medicines reduces all three TRIDOSHA (VATA PITTA & KAPHA). It has a sweet, astringent-like and bitter taste.

Fennel has a cooling effect on the body. Its leaves have a sweet, woody taste in the mouth. Ayurveda suggests against cooking fennel.

As cooking kills its properties instead one should steep fennel. It helps in washing out toxins from the body.

Fennel Water

Fennel water can be prepared following the below method:

  1. Soak 5 teaspoonful of fennel seeds in a cup of water for two hours
  2. Strain fennel seeds and keep the fennel water aside for further use.
  3. The fennel seeds should be ground into a fine paste.
  4. Add the strained water to the fennel paste. Then leave it further for 3 hours, so all active constituents can be absorbed into water.
  5. Strain the mixture again and separate the fennel water.
  6. Refrigerate the fennel seeds drink and serve it chilled.
  7. Add sugar if required.

Fennel Tea

Consuming fennel tea will relieve one of the sore throat and gastrointestinal issues. Drinking fennel tea regularly helps detoxifying the body.

The fennel tea can be prepared with the below instructions:

  1. Grind the fennel seeds to a coarse powder.
  2. Boil water and add the fennel powder.
  3. Place a lid over the vessel and turn off the heat.
  4. Strain the fennel tea after 5 minutes.
  5. Add honey or jaggery syrup and consume warm.

Dosage & Administration

The dosage of fennel and its preparations is as follows.

Fennel Seeds (Chewing) & Fennel Seed powder

One can chew fennel seeds or taken the powder of fennel seeds, as the dosage recommended in the table.

InfantsNot Recommended
Children500 mg to 2 grams *
Adults3 to 6 grams *
Pregnancy1 to 2 grams *
Geriatric (Old age)2 to 3 grams *

* Twice a day

Fennel Water (Saunf Pani)

Infants1 to 5 ml *
Children5 ml to 10 ml *
Adults10 ml to 20 ml *
Pregnancy5 ml to 10 ml *
Geriatric (Old age)5 ml to 10 ml *

* Twice a day

Fennel Tea

Infants1 to 5 ml *
Children20 ml to 50 ml *
Adults50 ml to 100 ml *
Pregnancy20 ml to 50 ml *
Geriatric (Old age)20 ml to 50 ml *

* Twice a day

Safety Profile

Fennel seeds (Saunf) is LIKELY SAFE in food amounts or less than 15 grams per day. Crude form of fennel seeds is safer than fennel extracts or fennel oil. Fennel water and fennel tea is also LIKELY SAFE.

Fennel Seeds Side Effects

Usage of fennel in small amounts is safe in cooking. Fennel seeds are used in many home remedies, but there is no research, which proves that fennel seeds are safe for adults or children, when used for medicinal purposes.

People should check with their physicians before consuming it as some people might be allergic to use of fennel as medicines.

Fennel Allergy

  1. People who are sensitive to celery, mugwort and carrots might be allergic to fennel seeds.
  2. Use of fennel can make the skin of people extra sensitive.
MythTruth
The use of fennel may be unsafe for some lactating mothers. It has been reported that two breast-feeding infants suffered nervous system damage after the mother drank an herbal tea, which had fennel in it.Fennels are used in India for lactation since 5000 years, but this effect is not reported till now in India.

Contraindications of Fennel

  • If a person suffers with a condition that might become worse by exposure to estrogen, then fennel must not be taken, e.g. breast cancer, uterine cancer etc.
  • Some people have allergic skin reactions to usage of fennel.

Fennel Oil Safety

Scientific Research has proved that fennel oil can be safely used for relieving colic of breast fed infants Dosage should be twice a day for a week’s time. Fennel oils are also used in making soaps, toothpastes and mouth fresheners.

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Questions & Answers (36)

  1. kanchan says

    Can we take saunf in pregnancy?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      You can take saunf in small amount during pregnancy, but you should avoid it using in larger amounts and on regular basis.

      In small amount, fennel seeds (saunf) can help getting rid of nausea, loss of appetite and vertigo during pregnancy.

      In larger amount, it would be POSSIBLY UNSAFE because saunf is emmenagogue, which means it promotes menstrual discharge or bleeding. However, this effect is mild, but you should stay on safer side and avoid using it in excess.

      1. aditya maheshwari says

        Is overdose of flaxseed harmful.

        1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

          Yes, over dosage of flax seeds or flax seed oil can be harmful.

          Flax seed over dosage may cause shortness of breath and make person to feel weakness. Indigestion is another concern associated with flaxseed over dosage.

  2. navsheen kaur says

    I eat saunf everyday….m adicted to it…..nd I feel bcause of it my hemoglobin decreases nd I suufferd frm anemia….plz suggest me whether its bcause of saunf that my hemoglobin decreses to 5 gram?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      There may be other cause of anemia in your case. Fennel seeds are a good source of iron and enzyme histidine, which stimulate the production of hemoglobin. Please do consult with your family physician for the treatment of anemia. As we all known, everything in excess amount and beyond limits can result in bad effects, so just limit your intake of fennel seeds to less than 10 grams per day.

  3. jennifer says

    I have irregular periods. I had read that fennel seeds water helps in getting menses. I had been soaking 2 tablespoons fennel seeds in one glass of water in the night and early morning straining the seeds and drinking the water. It has been almost 11 days I am drinking, but don’t have my menses. I am really worried. Please advice.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Fennel seeds are not potent enough to induce menstruation. The actual effect of fennels seeds is on painful periods or cramps due to its moderate antispasmodic property. It is less effective to bring on menstruation.

      However, it may help regulating periods if taken more than 3 months regularly. One may require other remedies as well. Asafetida (HING) has more emmenagogue effects than fennel seeds, so it is considered best remedy for inducing menstruation. If Asafetida does not bring on menses within 15 days, then there will be the problem of major concern.

      Several other factors also play role in irregular periods for example hormonal imbalance, stress or long standing illness etc. You also require ruling out all these things with your healthcare provider.

  4. Wasim Ahmad says

    helpful tips provided here

  5. samira says

    Can fennel seeds be roasted and will they lose their properties if roasted?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      1. Yes, you can roast fennels seeds. The roasted fennels seeds are used for sore throat in folk medicine.

      2. They will not lose their medicinal properties entirely, but roasting fennel seeds will decrease their properties at some extent.

  6. Asha Chauhan says

    Hello doc,
    I am having fennel water daily. Can we combine eating flaxseed with it? What is the correct dose of having flaxseed and fennel seeds water?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      1. There should be no problem combining fennel water and flax seeds.
      2. The dosage of flaxseeds is approx. 3 grams twice daily.
      3. The dosage for fennel water, see details here: Dosage & Administration

  7. Jaya Aishwarya says

    Are Fennel leaves also beneficial for anemia? Can you provide any reference that can be used for citation?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      100 grams Fennel bulb (raw) contains 3 to 4% iron content based on nutritional analysis for 2000 calories diet. Iron content is less than that can help in anemia, but it can provide supplemental support in addition to other medication used for anemia.
      There is no particular reference available for fennel leaves use in anemia, but you can cite nutritional table of fennel bulb if it is possible.

  8. sheena says

    This was very insightful!!!!
    I am surely going to use funnel water (boiled) to reduce my weight!

  9. Sarah C. A. says

    I made TADALS (I do not know how to spell it) it’s an Italian cookie/pretzel like. And it’s made with a lot of fennel seeds first boil TADOLS then bake.

    I have been eating them a lot. (The totals) and now my tummy is sick and I have been puking and cannot keep anything down. Is it possible I am allergic to fennel seeds?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      I am not sure for this. Please check other ingredients as well and stop taking it.

  10. pratik says

    I sneeze after eating fennel seeds. What might be the problem?

  11. Reena says

    I am in my 29th week of pregnancy. I have suddenly developed craving for fennel seeds. I am currently consuming lot of it. Will it cause harm to my baby or me? Would appreciate speedy revert.

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Fennel seeds can be taken in small quantity i.e. less than 6 grams or may be up to 10 grams per day. It is not likely to harm pregnant woman or developing baby.

      Higher dosage of fennel seeds should be avoided in pregnancy. The higher dosage of fennel seeds means more than 10 grams per day. It may affect pregnancy causing uterine contractions, but this effect is very insignificant in quantity less than 6 grams per day.

  12. Arti says

    I have been consuming 70 grams of fennel seeds per day and my hemoglobin rate has gone down.
    Is it due to excessive eating of fennel seeds?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      I am not sure about your hemoglobin level, but you are taking excessive amount of fennel seeds, which is not advisable. Excess of everything is bad.

  13. aman kang says

    My toddler eat fennel too much like 4 to 5 spoon daily some time more than this and he have problem of constipation and very picky to eat food or fruits. He don’t wanna eat his food or anything else he only like fennel seeds. Is the fennel seeds are reason behind he didn’t feel hungry?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Fennel seeds should not be taken in excess amount. Everything in excess is bad. In excess, it can also suppress appetite instead of increasing appetite, or alter dietary habits, so you need to restrict its intake to a half teaspoon per day for toddler. In children, the best way to restrict anything is to change their attention to something else, which is more interesting or appealing for them. Therefore, you should choose some healthy foods, which he likes most.

  14. Dipali says

    I consume almost 100gms of fennel seeds daily and am addicted to them. What to do? It is easy to say give it up, but very very difficult to actually practise it.

  15. Vandana says

    Is fennel seed also helpful in curing pimples and how much dosage we should be taken?

    1. Dr. Jagdev Singh says

      Fennel seeds have some antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It should be used in two ways to treat pimples.
      1. Eat fennel seeds in quantity of 1 teaspoon twice daily.
      2. Apply paste prepared using fennel seed powder and water on the affected skin. It can be more effective when it is mixed with other herbs like Turmeric, Mulethi, Manjistha and Lodhra (all herbs in equal proportion).

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