Ferula assafoetida, popularly known as asafoetida, is a dried gum obtained from the tap root of various species of Ferula. It is a perennial herb and is also known as devil’s dung, giant fennel, stinking gum, or hing. True to these names, asafetida has a strong pungent smell, but adds a subtle flavor to dishes when cooked with other spices. It is native to Afghanistan, and grows in Turkey, Iraq and India. The plant grows to six to seven feet tall and is not harvested until four years old.
- Asafetida health benefits are many; it is an antiepileptic, antimicrobial, laxative, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antispasmodic, and anti-flatulent agent.
- Asafetida helps reduce flatulence, digestive disorders, prevents constipation and is an excellent laxative. A pinch of asafetida can be taken with butter milk to reduce flatulence and cleanse the digestive system.
- Granules of asafetida can be dissolved in water and taken for relieving migraines and headaches. Asafetida is also a natural remedy for colic in babies by placing a small amount of warm asafetida on the baby’s stomach.
- Asafetida also acts as an anti-coagulant and helps lower blood pressure.
- Asafetida is favorable for women’s health as it helps counter leucorrhoea, dysmenorrhea, excessive and painful menstruation, and has positive benefits in treating candida infection.
- Asafetida’s medicinal uses are many, which include the treatment of influenza. Asafetida is beneficial in fighting the swine flu and H1N1 virus. It is also used in treating asthma and bronchitis and is effective is treating colds and the flu in children. In addition, it can also be used for reducing chronic bronchitis and whooping cough due to its anti-microbial action.
- It is also considered to have contraceptive properties and is used for contraception in traditional medicine.
- Asafetida is good protection against triglycerides and cholesterol formed due to excessive fat consumption. However, care needs to be taken when it is used along with blood pressure medication.
- Asafetida helps in countering the effects of long-term alcohol intake, which can cause severe liver damage and even death. To fight the condition, phytochemicals present in dietary supplement like asafetida are beneficial in avoiding ethanol induced hepatotoxicity. This is enabled due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects.
The active compounds from its resin, gum, volatile oil and ash contains fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorous enrich the human body.
Asafetida health benefits can be obtained everyday when used in cooking. It can be mixed with virtually anything like vegetables, pulses, rice, meat, or fish. The pungent smell becomes lighter when added to hot oil. The advantages of asafetida powder that be obtained by adding a dash of it to lentils, to vegetables when boiling them, and to meat along with other spices to marinade them. It best to cook asafetida covered so that the dishes may acquire its delicate flavor. Bitter gourd cooked with asafoetida is effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
Side effects of Asafetida
With all its beneficial qualities, asafoetida has its disadvantages as well. It can cause unpleasant side effects like vomiting and nausea; excessive consumption of asafetida can cause irritation in throat, swollen lips, burping, stomach gas, and diarrhea. It can also trigger unfavorable results in persons suffering from central nervous conditions. In some, it cause redness, itching and skin irritation. If there are prolonged skin rashes, skin swelling, and hives, you need to consult a doctor to remedy the allergic reaction. High doses of asafetida can cause dizziness and headaches, which can deter one’s productivity at work.
In sum, it is best to consult a physician if you want to consume larger doses to counter specific illnesses such as heart conditions, liver problems, and nervous disorders. In most cases, side effects of asafetida are temporary and can be treated.
Arnadi Ramachandrayya Shivashankara , Aysha Azmidah , Raghavendra Haniadka , Manoj Ponadka Rai , Rajesh Arora andManjeshwar Shrinath Baliga, Dietary agents in the prevention of alcohol-induced hepatotoxicty: preclinical observations, Food Funct., 2012.