It’s not a recipe you can buy at the store. You have to make it yourself. Kulreet Chaudhary, who is neurologist, touted this Ayurvedic herbal trio in her recent book about how to “prepare and repair your body for spontaneous weight loss” titled The Prime.

Not to totally throw Dr. Chaudhary under the bus, because 90% of what she says is good stuff. However we have read her commentary from the Dr. Oz show and some claims she has made there seemed ambitious, based on the science. Those are petty disagreements though, in comparison to our strong warning against this Ayurvedic tea of cumin, coriander, and fennel. That’s what CCF tea is.

Which to be clear, may or may not be ancient. Sure, these spices are all used in that ancient Indian traditional medicine system, but we can’t find evidence of them being used together as a hot beverage. As with the modern renditions of golden milk, ancient-inspired may be a better descriptor for this tea!

Benefits

  • Facilitates fat burning
  • Aids in protein digestion
  • Reduces cramping after eating
  • Cumin may help balance blood sugar
  • Coriander acts as a calming agent
  • Fennel reduces gas and bloating
  • May boost milk supply while breastfeeding
  • Offers nutrients to support pancreas
  • Cleanses and detoxes

To be clear, these are not our claims. Rather, that’s a list of the alleged health advantages you will see written about in the blogosphere about this drink. In fact, we disagree with the vast majority of those claims, based on the studies done to date.

dried spice bottles at grocery storeNow there is a fair amount of anecdotal and indirect evidence to suggest cumin, coriander and fennel tea might help with digestion. The bulk of that science relates to only one of those three ingredients… fennel.

In a placebo-controlled clinical study in which curcumin and fennel essential oil were used together, it was found to “significantly decrease” symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) versus placebo. (1)

In another study, there were 159 patients who underwent laparotomy surgery for gynecological cancer (such as cervical or ovarian). For the group who drank fennel tea post-op, it was “associated with rapider recovery of bowel motility, shorter hospital stay and fewer complications.” (2)

With promising findings such as those, you may be shocked to hear that the reason we hate CCF tea is specifically because of the fennel content. If you look at the typical recipe, there’s a lot of it used.

CCF tea recipe

teapot with cupsAs featured on Dr. Oz’s website, how to make cumin, coriander and fennel tea is super easy.

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 4 to 5 cups of purified water

Directions

  1. Combine seeds with water.
  2. Cover with lid and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a thermos.
  4. Sip periodically throughout the day, ideally when warm.

If you experience side effects, it’s advised to cut the amount of seeds in half for the first 2 weeks.

It doesn’t taste good. The flavor is that of a broth, not a sweet herbal tea. Some even describe it as having the flavor of taco seasoning! It will taste better if you cut back on the cumin, but that’s that’s the healthiest spice of the three.

The blogpost on Dr. Oz’s website describes this as a detox tea which helps to “break down fat” yet no clinical studies have been published on weight loss involving this tea, or even fennel for that matter.

Whether it works or not though is really the least of our concerns. Its awful flavor is not the biggest problem either.

Side effects

  • Increased sensitivity to the sun
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Mimics estrogen in the body
  • Allergic reaction
  • Not safe during pregnancy
  • Unknown safety during breastfeeding
  • Contains a suspected carcinogen

Since there is literally zero published research on the use of these herbs together, the side effects of CCF tea are based on suspected and known dangers of each herb when used separately.

Lower blood sugar has been associated with cumin and coriander. Normally this may be good for you, though for diabetics on a carefully controlled drug regimen, these seeds and spices could cause interactions resulting in a blood glucose level that’s too low. (3) (4)

Anti-clotting or “blood thinning” effects of cumin and fennel are also good for many people on the typical Western diet, yet dangerous for certain cardiovascular diseases and they are definitely supplements to avoid before surgery. (5) (6)

Increased sensitivity to the sun is always a bad thing and that’s been associated with fennel. (7)

Phytoestrogen content in fennel was identified as the likely cause of premature breast development in a 12 year-old girl who had been given 2-3 teaspoons of fennel tea daily by her mother. After stopping, her abnormal breast growth returned to normal. Adult women should know that certain types of breast cancer are spurred by estrogen and therefore, the molecularly similar phytoestrogens are also concerning. Likewise for pregnant women, as you don’t want to mess with your hormones even more so during that period. (8) (9)

Allergic reactions are likely if you have a known allergy to related plants such as celery, carrots, and dill.

While you may or may not suffer those side effects, you will be ingesting a carcinogen no matter what.

We have been very vocal about the dangers of fennel tea and in fact, all of us at Superfoodly request this herb to be left out of our salads/food at restaurants which use it.

estragole molecule chemical structureThe reason is because it contains estragole, which is a mutagen. That means it mutates your DNA and therefore, is believed to be carcinogenic.

How is consuming 4-5 cups per day of CCF tea healthy for you when it contains estragole, which is called a “potent carcinogen” by German researchers and the State of California has classified it as a carcinogen under their Prop 65 rule. (10) (11)

So does drinking the tea CCF cause cancer?

No one can say one way or another, since only animal models have been used to demonstrate the carcinogenicity of estragole. That’s why, aside by the State of California, it’s not considered an “official” confirmed carcinogen by major government bodies.

In short, there is too little research on it to conclusively prove that the amount of DNA mutations it causes are high enough to increase cancer risk. Yet no one is debating whether or not estragole mutates DNA. That’s a fact.

The takeaway?

Even if occasional consumption is “safe” it makes no logical sense to intentionally and frequently consume cumin-coriander-fennel tea. Why risk your health for your weight? An alleged benefit, which by the way, has not even been studied. Claims of it being a “fat burner” or belly fat buster are almost entirely speculative.

The claim that it “detoxes” is a total joke too, considering that estragole is toxic to your DNA!

Safer bets for the calorie conscious who are looking to drop a few pounds would be green coffee bean and our favorite, triphala.