Asafoetida is a very common culinary herb. It contains resin, gum, volatile oil and ash. The resin consists chiefly of asaresinotennol, free or combined with ferulic acid. Umbelliferone seems to be present in the combined state.
Asafoetida is dirty yellow in color with a pungent smell. It consist of carbohydrates 67.8 percent per 100 gram, moisture 16.0 percent protein 4.0 percent, fat 1.1 percent, minerals 7.0 percent and fiber 4.1 percent. Its mineral and vitamin contents include substantial calcium besides iron, phosphorus, carotene, riboflavin and niacin.
Botanical Name - Ferula foetida, ferula northex
Indian Name - Hing
Below are some of the medicinal properties of asafoetida:
- Asafoetida is reputed as a remedy which expels wind from the stomach and counteracts any spasmodic disorders.
- It is an effective remedy for hysteria. Inhaling this gum prevents hysterical attacks. An emulsion made by 2 grams of the gum with 120 ml of water is a valuable enema per rectum in treating hysteria, when oral dosages not advisable.
- It is useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders like whooping cough, asthma and bronchitis. About 3 to 6 centigrams of this gum, mixed with 2 teaspoons of honey, a quarter teaspoon of white onion juice and 1 teaspoon of betel leaf juice, taken thrice daily would keep the patient away from such disorders.
- It is extensively used in the treatment of nervous disorders of children. There is an old European belief that a small piece of this gum, hung around a child’s neck, would protect it from many diseases, especially germs which are sensitive to its particular odor.
- Asafoetida is considered useful in the treatment of several problems concerning women such as sterility, unwanted abortion, pre-mature labor, unusually painful, difficult and excessive menstruation and leucorrhoea. About 12 centigrams of gum fried in ghee mixed with 120 grams of goat's fresh milk and a table spoon of honey, should be given thrice daily for a month. It excites the secretion of progesterone hormone.
- It is also beneficial in the treatment of impotency. About 6 centigrams of asafoetida should be fried in ghee and mixed with honey and a teaspoon of fresh latex of banyan tree. This mixture should be taken once daily for 40 days before sunrise.
- Asafoetida is a valuable remedy for several diseases of the stomach. It is one of the best remedies available for flatulence and is an essential ingredient for most of the digestive powders. In case of flatulence and distension of the stomach, it should be dissolved in hot water and pad a cloth steeped in it may be used for fomenting the abdomen.
- It is useful for women after childbirth. Owing to its anti-flatulent and digestive properties, the herbs can be taken with beneficial result during the post-delivery period.
- It is also useful in alleviating toothache. After being pestled in lemon juice, it is slightly heated. A cotton piece, soaked in the lotion and placed in the cavity of the tooth, relieves pain quickly.
Asafoetida is used as a flavoring agent and forms a constituent of many spice mixtures. It is used to flavor curries, meetballs, dal and pickles. The whole plant is used as a fresh vegetable. The herb is also used as an antidote of opium. Given in the same quantity as opium ingested by the patient, it will counteract the effect of the drug.