Natural fennel, the deliciously exotic and fragrant spice that delights your senses in Indian food and in many breath-freshening preparations, is just full of surprises. Did you know that there is strong scientific evidence that this sweet, tasty plant contains compounds that can improve your eyesight naturally and help prevent vision loss on a couple of different fronts? Feast your eyes on this:
In 2008, researchers at the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research determined that fennel may reduce eye pressure (high ocular pressure is the hallmark of glaucoma, a disease that can cause blindness). For this study*, researchers induced high ocular pressures in rabbits. They evaluated the effects of fennel seed extract on reducing these pressures. They ultimately concluded that fennel did have a beneficial effect on the pressure. This is compelling information, but the Glaucoma Research Foundation does not currently recognize fennel (or any other food) as beneficial to patients with glaucoma. Further evaluation is required in order to establish whether the benefit seen in rabbits is also seen in humans.
A more recent study**, led by researchers from the Department of Biochemistry at the Shivaji University in India strongly suggests that a compound in the fennel seed may prevent diabetic retinopathy (which is responsible for vision loss in diabetics). The researchers isolated a compound from fennel called trans-anethole. Trans-anethole blocks the conversion of sugar to sorbitol in the blood. How does this help the eyes? When blood sugar gets too high, as is often does in diabetics, the excess sugar is converted to sorbitol. Too much sorbitol trapped in the cells of the retina leads to retinopathy, cataracts, and eventually blindness.