Fennel seeds or saunf are a popular flavouring agent used in many Asian cuisines. Saunf is widely used in Mediterranean countries, Middle-East Asian and South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Fennel seeds give out a different aroma and add a sweet and pleasant flavour to dishes. These seeds are also known for their medicinal properties.
Quick facts about Saunf or Foeniculum vulgar Mill
- Common name: Saunf
- Sanskrit name: Misi, Madhurika, Misreya
- English name: Fennel
- Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare Mill
- Rasa: Madhura, Katu, Tikta
- Guna: Laghu, Ruska
- Virya: Sita
- Vipaka: Madhura
- Karma: Anuloma, Balya, Dipana, Vatapittahara, Amadosahara
- Dosha effect: Balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha
- Dhatu: Blood, Plasma, nerve and muscles
- Srota: Respiratory, digestive, nervous, urinary, lactation and reproductive
The plant originated in the Mediterranean countries and it was introduced to Europe, North America and Asia in the middle ages. It is a round the year plant which can grow up to 1.5 m in length. The leaves of the plant resemble feathers and the flowers are yellow in colour. The flowering of the plant generally starts during the peak summer period. In India, it is being cultivated in regions such as Punjab, Assam, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Fennel seeds are used as spice and for their medicinal properties. The seeds of Fennel consist of about 90% of volatile oil consisting of anethole, fenchone, methyl-chavicol, flavonoids, coumarins like bergapten, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid and sterols were found in fennel seeds.
Fennel seeds are known to provide certain health benefits, some of which include the following:
- Anti-oxidant activity: Fennel seeds are a good source of antioxidants. Regular consumption of these antioxidants can be guard internal organs from the damage caused by free radicals and toxins released during the process of metabolism.
- Control of blood pressure: Fennel seeds help in lowering blood pressure in case of hypertension. Tests have shown that fennel seeds can bring down blood pressure. Fennel seeds controlled blood pressure by excreting excess amounts of sodium and potassium in the body.
- Protects liver: The volatile oils present in fennel seeds can protect the liver. Studies have shown that fennel seeds can protect liver from various chemicals that can attack liver. The study concluded that fennel essential oil has potent hepatoprotective properties.
- Good for gastric troubles: Fennel seeds are also good for gastrointestinal issues. Studies on fennel seeds suggest that they possess anti-ulcerogenic properties and healing of gastric lesions.
- Anti-bacterial properties: The volatile extracts from fennel seeds have anti-bacterial properties. Tests on various harmful bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis, Aspergilus niger and Cladosporium cladosporiodes yielded positive results.
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- Mishreya, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part 1, Volume 1, pp 116.
- Khare, 2007, Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Springer Science + Business Media, New York, The USA. pp 583.
- Img Src: herbrosia.com; tradeindia.com