Asafetida (hing), which is also spelled as asafoetida, is a large plant that looks like a fennel. Growing mainly in India and Iran, hing in English is asafetida, but this is not too popular because it has bad smell and also tastes bitter. As a matter of fact, aside from its scientific name Ferula asafetida, this is also known as Devil’s dung. Nevertheless, it is also known as food of the gods, probably because it contains a number of health benefits.
Asafetida powder or the plant itself is composed of the following:
- 4% up to 20% of volatile oil
- 25% gum
- 40% up to 60% of resin content
It also contains other compounds such as disulfides, saradaferin, asafoetidin, arabinose, and galactose among many others.
As this is a spice, you can add this as your cooking ingredient. This is actually quite popular in many households in India particularly the dishes that contain pickles. If you are a fan of Worcestershire sauce, asafetida is one of the main ingredients of this special sauce. Aside from these uses, asafetida is also used in aromatherapy and as an insect repellant.
The Process of Making Asafetida
You can plant Ferula asafoetida seeds and cultivate them afterwards. Make sure that the soil you use is rich and drains well. It is important though that the soil is moist at all times and you should keep the tray in a sunny location outdoors.
If you want to know how to make asafoetida powder, you should know that the resin-like gum is simply derived by drying the sap of the plant. The sap comes from the roots and the stem. Once done, you already have your asafetida spice. You will know that you have reached the right dryness of the spice when the resin is dark amber in color. At first, it is greyish-white so you have to wait for a while until it achieves the specified color.
Asafoetida powder is a little difficult to create because the resin is a challenge when grating it. You may have to use a hammer or crush the resin between stones, which is the traditional way.
Although the hing spice is not loved by its smell and taste, it does have numerous health benefits. Here are ten of its medical uses:
1. Reduces Flatulence
Asafoetida can help reduce the number of indigenous microflora that you may have in your gut. As a result, flatulence is greatly decreased, which is why it is used in India’s Jammu region to cure flatulence.
2. Constipation Treatment
Aside from flatulence, asafetida is also a common medicine for constipation. This is once again used in the mentioned area in India where 60% of the locals believe in its power to heal the inability to move bowels.
3. Cure for Some Digestive Problems
On a related note, asafetida is also used as a digestion aid, particularly in India and Thailand. However, instead of consuming the spice orally, this is smeared on the abdomen in either water or alcohol tincture.
4. Influenza Fighter
Asafetida’s natural healing properties against influenza have been well known since the Spanish influenza pandemic in 1918. In 2009, it has proven to be potent against the frightening H1N1 virus.
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5. Cold Relief
Asafetida has been used to help children combat colds. It is mixed with a paste and the mixture is hung in a bag around the neck of the child.
6. Bronchitis and Asthma Combatant
If you or your loved one has asthma or bronchitis, asafetida can help cure these two chronic respiratory disorders. It can also cure whooping cough.
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7. Fights Bacteria
Asafetida has anti-bacterial properties which can help prevent and fight swine flu. When blended with lemon juice, this can provide relief in case you have a toothache.
For those who are prone to hysteria and other emotional conditions such as mood swings and depression, asafetida is actually a good treatment for these excessive emotions.
Since this has the ability to calm people down, it is believed that people who suffer from epilepsy can use this as part of their treatment.
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10. Cure for Dysmenorrhea
Women who have to undergo a painful menstruation cycle can benefit from taking supplements that contain asafetida. Regular intake of the spice during this time of the month can also help cure this health problem.