A common culinary herb, asafoetida is used for flavouring spicy curries, sauces, chutneys, pickles and stir-fries. Referred to as “Hing” in India, this herb is used while cooking lentils or “dals” and a wide variety of spicy dishes. In addition to lending flavour to food there are numerous health benefits of this herb. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the health benefits of asafoetida.
Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) which is extracted from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of a perennial herb, Ferula. There are basically two varieties of asafoetida - Hing Kabuli Sufaid which is the water soluble variety and Hing Lal which is soluble oil.
Normally, pure asafoetida
is not preferred because of its strong flavour. Hence, it is combined with
starch and gum and sold as compounded asafoetida. It is sold in the form of
brick, piece, tablet or free flowing powder.
Asafoetida Health Benefits
Following are the specific health benefits of using Asafoetida or Hing:
Indigestion - Asafoetida is an ancient home remedy for indigestion. To aid digestion it can be consumed on an everyday basis by adding in curries and food. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and is an anti-oxidant agent. For quick relief from gas, pain and for digestion you must dissolve few small pieces of asafoetida in half a cup of water and drink it.
Flatulence - If taken orally with buttermilk it can provide quick relief from flatulence.
Menstrual Problem and Dysmenorrhoea - Asafoetida is considered to be helpful for women with menstrual issues like menstrual cramps, irregular periods, and pain. It is also useful in the treatment of Dysmenorrhoea.
Cough and Cold - Asafoetida is one of the oldest remedies which have been used in India for treating respiratory tract infections and cough. It is very useful to relieve chest congestion and release of the phlegm. Its powder can be mixed with honey and ginger to get relief from cough.
Transmitted Diseases - A research study done in Egypt
has indicated that anti-parasitic properties of asafoetida are useful in
treating a number of genital infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
Other Uses of Asafoetida
In addition to medicinal properties this herb is a popular cooking
ingredient in most Indian households. It is used while preparing pickles and is
an important ingredient of the famous Worcestershire sauce. Asafoetida essential
oil is used in aromatherapy also. Due to its pungent odour it is used as an
ingredient in a number of insect and mosquito repellants.
Precautions to be Taken While Using Asafoetida
Asafoetida can at times cause nausea and vomiting in some people because of its strong flavour. Excessive intake of this herb can give rise to throat irritation, swollen lips, diarrhoea and burping. People suffering from gastrointestinal infection must not consume this herb since it can worsen their condition by irritating the digestive tract.
Although beneficial to lactating mothers and women after delivery, because of its abortifascient properties this herb can in certain rare cases induce miscarriage in pregnant women.
Although this medicinal plant has been used since centuries in cooking because it adds a special flavour to the vegetable meals, modern day research has highlighted a whole lot of Asafoetida health benefits and its medicinal uses. Hence, today Asafoetida is considered as a very important herb and is popularly used in most Indian kitchens.
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- The Indiaparenting Team