Other Names of Asafoetida

  • Ferula foetida
  • Assyfetida
  • Devil's Dung
  • Ferula
  • Food of the Gods
  • Incense of the Devil
  • Stinking Gum
  • Assa foetida
  • Ferulr perisque
  • Stinkender Asant
  • Kama-i-anguza
  • Hing
  • Perunkaya

Useful Parts of the Plant: Resin-like sap of the plant

Asafoetida gets it name from the Latin word foetid, which means stinking. There is in fact no other polite way to describe the smell of this spice other than "smelly" or "stinking." Used since ancient times in Rome and Persia, asafetida is a gum extracted from the sap of the of the Giant fennel plant.

When fresh, this gum is grayish-white in color but as it ages it becomes yellow and ultimately ends up to a brown color. You can buy asafetida in blocks or pieces or more conveniently in powder form. The strong sulfurous smell of the spice dissipates when cooked and imparts a pleasant onion like taste to the food. Just remember that a little amount of asafetida goes a long way when cooking and only small quantities are needed.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Asafoetida

There are many health benefits and therapeutic uses of asaefoetida. Some of the uses of asafetida include:

  • It is often used as a cure for flatulence and bloating.
  • Respiratory conditions such as asthma, whooping cough, and bronchitis respond well to home remedies using asafetida.
  • Asafoetida is generally used in tincture form when treating a medical condition. Blending the spice with some amount of neutral oil or alcohol results in the tincture. You can get asafetida tincture from most health food or herbal stores.
  • Asafoetida tincture can treat problems with the digestive system such as cramps and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be used as a laxative.
  • It is believed that inhaling the gum can reduce hysteria.
  • Asafoetida improves the production of progesterone. This makes it an excellent treatment for reproductive disorders such as sterility, pre-mature labor, painful menstrual periods and leucorrhea.
  • When taken after childbirth, it aids healing and recovery of the mother.
  • Mix a tiny amount of asafetida with lemon juice and heat this concoction till warm. Soak a cotton ball with this liquid and place on an aching tooth for instant pain relief.
  • Asafoetida can counteract the effects of opium when taken in the amount as the ingested drug.
  • The sedative properties of asafetida lend it to be used to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, mood swings, as well as children’s nervous disorders.

Precautions/Side Effects/Warnings

The strong sulfurous smell of this spice can affect other foods if not stored correctly. Keep asafetida in airtight containers in a cool dark place to prolong its shelf life.

Side effects of Asafoetida Include

Too much asafetida can result in nausea, vomiting, and an irritation of the throat. In some people, it may even cause a burning sensation when urinating. Having too much of this potent spice over an extended amount of time can even cause irregularities in a woman’s menstrual cycle.