According to Ayurveda, "Asafoetida is a grounding herb that can therefore balance an overactive, over emotional, turbulent system." Asafoetida is botanically known as Ferula assa-foetida, it is a member of the Apiaceae plant family and the commercial part used is the oleo-gum resin extracted from the thickened roots and rhizomes. It is also known as hing, Food of Gods and stinking gum. Hing is a popular spice all over the world and is used as a digestive aid, flavoring agent and as a condiment in food varieties and in pickles. It is used in daily food preparations in India.
Ayurvedic health benefits of Asafoetida:
Hing and its essential oil in Ayurveda is said to increase Pitta energy and balance vata and kapha dosha with its pungent taste and enormous healing properties. In the Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hridaya Su, Chapter 1, it is mentioned: Asafoetida mitigates vata and kapha, relieves flatulence and colic pain. It is pungent taste and at the end of digestion. It aggravates pitta, enhances appetite, taste and digestion. It is easy to digest.
The major Ayurvedic health benefits of this herb:
1. Benefits to the digestive system: With its anti-flatulent, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, hing essential oil aids in relieving from abdominal gas, stomach pain, intestinal gas and bloating. It cleanses the intestinal flora and augments the digestive fire. By this way it eliminates all kinds of stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract, relieves cramping and drives out intestinal gas. The strong herbaceous aroma of this oil assists in soothing the lining of the stomach and intestines, reducing distention, treating spasms and increasing the appetite. Remedy: Gently massaging your tummy and abdomen with 2 drops of Asafoetida oil blended with 1 ml of sesame oil will be of great help in treating all types of stomachic and intestinal problems in a comforting manner. You can also add 1 drop of Heeng oil to warm bathing water or to diffuser in the dining room to stimulate the process of metabolism and for enhancing the stamina, as this oil is known to nurture the earth element that is responsible for strength and vigor.
2. Benefits to the respiratory system: Hing and its essential oil is an ancient folk remedy for treating cold especially in children. This is mainly due to its antimicrobial and expectorant properties along with its ability to reduce kapha dosha, which is responsible for excess phlegm and mucous deposits causing cold and other respiratory problems. Add 2 drops of hing oil to steam inhalation or to vapor rub and massage it on your chest, neck and back for expelling mucous and phlegm deposits in the bronchial, nasal and respiratory passages. Asafoetida has antimicrobial values that arrest the growth of infectious organisms that worsen cold and cough and pave way for chronic respiratory conditions. It has been proven effective in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion, whooping cough and other respiratory problems. One popular home remedy is mixing half teaspoon of asafoetida powder with fresh betel leaf juice and white onion juice along with honey every day for treating whooping cough, bronchitis and asthma. A 2009 study on Influenza A (H(1)N(1)) Antiviral and Cytotoxic Agents from Ferula assa-foetida have proved the effectiveness of Asafoetida in combating the harmful effects of H1N1 virus with its antiviral and cytotoxic elements. This study concluded that Asafoetida exhibited greater potency against influenza A virus and against HepG2, Hep3B, and MCF-7 cancer cell lines, correspondingly.
3. Benefits to the reproductive system: Asafoetida addresses male and female reproductive problems in a natural way. It is known to heal impotency, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhoea in men by increasing the libido and it also acts as an effective aphrodisiac. Mix 2 drops of hing oil with 1 ml. of olive oil and gently massage on your lower abdomen or add 1 drop of this oil to your bathing tub before going to bed. Regular use of this therapy can show effective results as the therapeutic molecules present in this oil penetrate deeply into the system through the skin and stimulate the male reproductive system. Hing as a powerful herb and a strong essential oil has emmenagogue properties and has been in use as a natural contraceptive. It will be of great assistance in treating dysmennorhea or painful menstruation, excessive bleeding, irregular or delayed periods, leucorrhea, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and other symptoms associated with menses. The best way to use hing oil for menstrual discomforts is by massaging your lower abdomen with 2 drops of this oil mixed with 1 ml. sesame oil or add it in a hot compress for improved results. As a contraceptive or abortifacient, hing oil can be used in treating unplanned abortion, sterility in women and premature labor. It is also effective in improving the quality and quantity of breast milk in nursing women. Using Asafoetida in post-pregnancy period is recommended for relieving colic, indigestion and other digestive difficulties in both the mother and the baby.
4. Benefits to oral health: The human mouth has the highest possibilities of being affected by millions of micro-organisms that not only cause hazards to oral health but also to the entire body. Hing essential oil has potent antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that aids in treating toothache, bleeding gums, bad breath or halitosis and harmful cavities. Add 1 drop of hing oil in a cup of warm water and use it as a gargle for various oral problems. You can also add 1 drop of this oil to a piece of cotton and dab it on your aching tooth for immediate pain relief, (add a clove to it also).
5. Benefits to overall health: By adding hing to food you cook you can reap its anti-diabetic effects. Hing stimulates the pancreatic cells to secrete more insulin which in turn decreases your blood sugar levels. Hing is also packed with coumarins, (compounds that aid in improving your blood flow and thinning ofÂ blood thereby prevent blood clotting). Additionally, this spice lowers your blood cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides in the body.
Asafoetida is defined as Tamasic in Ayurveda for its properties of resistance, dullness, inertia and darkness on the mind and it can balance the over emotional, hyperactive and chaotic system.
When added to lentils or savory dishes, it's pungent smell transforms to a unique flavorful spice that is truly beneficial!
References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19691312 Photo credit: BBC UK