Fennel, a popular licorice-flavored cooking herb, has been used medicinally since ancient times. It also has ample modern scientific research showing its effectiveness against a wide range of health problems, from digestive issues to premenstrual symptoms. Now, an exciting new study confirms fennel may be a powerhouse for post-menopausal symptoms, which include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, joint and muscular discomfort, exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Unlike hormone replacement therapy, which has been associated with serious and even fatal side effects, fennel is not known to have any serious side effects. The study was published recently in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
What is Fennel?
Fennel is believed to have originated in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The plant has three distinct parts, all of which have medicinal value: the bulbous root, the fronds that appear above ground, and the seeds that are produced within the blossom. Fennel’s medicinal properties are associated with the essential oils it contains. For PMS and menopause, the fact that fennel’s essential oils have phytoestrogenic properties is important. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals found in plants, and they’ve been shown to effective for a variety of that have been used to effectively treat a wide array of menopause symptoms.
Natural Solutions Versus Hormone Therapy
There’s no doubt that hormone therapy can effectively relieve or lessen symptoms of menopause. Nonetheless, more women than ever are seeking natural solutions for dealing with the uncomfortable drop in hormone levels that comes with menopause. That’s because hormone therapy has been associated with serious side effects from heart attack to stroke to cancer. For that reason, some women simply are not candidate for hormone replacement, while others are too concerned about the side effects to risk it.
Most Rigorous Scientific Study Shows Fennel Works
The study of fennel for menopause was a small randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blind trial of 79 Iranian women between the ages of 45 and 60. One group of women were given 100 mg fennel twice a day for 8 weeks. Another group of women were given a placebo.
The researchers compared the two groups after 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 10 weeks. Ultimately, they concluded that fennel was a safe and effective treatment to reduce menopause symptoms without serious side effects.
This study was one of the first randomized clinical trials—the most rigorous type of research
study—to examine the benefits of fennel for helping women get through menopause, even fennel had been examined in less rigorous studies for its benefits for both PMS and menopause.
The study took place in Iran, a country where women enter menopause at the average age of 48.2 years compared to 51 years in the United States.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said of the study: “This small pilot study found that, on the basis of a menopause-rating scale, twice-daily consumption of fennel as a phytoestrogen improved menopause symptoms compared with an unusual minimal effect of placebo. A larger, longer, randomized study is still needed to help determine its long-term benefits and side effect profile.”