What is Asafoetida?
Asafoetida, also known as Narthex or Hing, its powder is commonly used in Indian cooking. Recognized by its overwhelming odour when raw, which has given rise to at least one of its many popular names, “devil’s dung”
Asafoetida is a plant from the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots, parsley, dill, celery, fennel, Most similar in appearance to fennel, asafoetida smells like rotting feet, which causes many cooks to feel nervous about using the herb.
This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles. Its odour, when uncooked, is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic.
Asafoetida is an herbal medicine used to treat nervousness, bronchitis, and gas pain. Other names for Asafoetida include: Ferula foetida, Devil’s Dung, and Giant Fennel. Asafoetida is a species of Ferula native to Iran. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. Asafoetida is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula , which is a perennial herb..
The leaves are 30-40 cm long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem. The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels. There are two main varieties of asafoetida. Milky white asafoetida and Red asafoetida. Asafoetida is acrid and bitter in taste and emits a strong disagreeable pungent odour due to the presence of sulphur compounds therein.
Benefits and Uses of Asafoetida
- It is used to help relieve flatulence, abdominal pains, and digestive disorders and will kick-start peristalsis to prevent constipation.
- Asafoetida is commonly used to treat bloating and gas to prevent flatulence, but it also quells stomach cramps, eases indigestion, and relieves constipation.
- Asafoetida combines the properties of a stimulating antispasmodic with those of an efficient expectorant, making it a valuable remedy in spasmodic affections of the respiratory tract, as whooping-cough, asthma, etc.
- It is powdered and mixed with ghee and rice and served to women after childbirth.It helps in relieving toothache.
- Using the dried gum, this herb helps relieve headache pain and shows promise in treating migraines and tension headaches when mixed with water.
- Efficient in preventing snake bites and repelling insects when mixed with garlic.
- Asafoetida used for food stagnation, weak digestion, intestinal parasites and flatulence as well as asthma, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis.
- It is also a laxative , especially useful in cases of flatulence.
- Asafoetida was one of the most commonly prescribed herbs for the treatment of hysteria and for many symptoms associated with mood swings and depression.
- Benefits of Asafoetida seed treatment for jowar becomes immune to drought conditions, increase in resistance to diseases, increase in crop yield.