Asafoetida (Hing or Ferula Assa-Foetida) Benefits & Side Effects

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Asafoetida, also known HING in Hindi, is an Indian spice used for flavoring the food and in herbal medicines for the treatment of digestive and mental ailment. However, flavoring food is not the main concern of hing spice. The main concern using it in the food is to prevent digestive ailment such as gas, flatulence, bloating and abdominal distension.

Asafoetida resin: Asafoetida is a resin obtained from the Asafoetida plant’s roots by making small cuts. The juice comes out from the roots, which solidifies and converts into asafoetida resin (HING).

Taste & Smell: Asafoetida has bitter taste and unpleasant smell.

Basic Information

Scientific NameFERULA ASSA-FOETIDA or FERULA FOETIDA
Plant FamilyAPIACEAE
Hindi NameHING
Sanskrit NameHINGU
English NameAsafoetida or Asafetida
Other NamesDevil’s Dung

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderASTERANAE
OrderAPIALES
FamilyAPIACEAE
GenusFerula L.
SpeciesFERULA ASSA-FOETIDA or FERULA FOETIDA

Medicinal Parts

  • Asafoetida Resin (also called Hing or Hingu is used in medicines)

Phytochemistry (Active Constituents)

The volatile oil is the main active constituent of the Asafoetida, which is responsible for its therapeutic significance. Its main phyto-chemical is FERULIC ACID. It varies from 40 to 60% in asafoetida gum. (1, 2)

FERULIC ACID has Anti-cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-mutagenic, antineoplastic, Anti-tumor, Antiviral, Anti-bacterial, Anti-spasmodic, Hepato-protective, Antioxidant properties.

Nutritional Analysis

Carbohydrates67.8%
Protein4%
Fat1.1%
Fiber4.1%
Moisture16%
Minerals7%

Medicinal Properties

Asafoetida has following healing properties.

  1. Anticancer
  2. Anti-leukemic
  3. Antineoplastic
  4. Anti-mutagenic
  5. Antitumor
  6. Anti-carcinogenic
  7. Anti-inflammatory
  8. Anti-arthritic
  9. Antiviral
  10. Antibacterial
  11. Antispasmodic
  12. Antiseptic
  13. Expectorant
  14. Hepato-protective or Anti-hepato toxic
  15. Antioxidant
  16. Mild tranquilizer (larger amounts)
  17. Mild sedative (larger amounts)
  18. Digestive Stimulant
  19. Emmenagogue
  20. Fat Burner
  21. Analgesic (Mild action)
  22. Muscle relaxant
  23. Anthelmintic

Therapeutic Indications

Asafoetida resin or hing is helpful in following health conditions.

Brain & Nerves

  • Hysteria or unmanageable emotional excesses
  • Convulsions
  • Epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression (with passive symptoms)
  • Paralysis
  • Facial paralysis
  • Hemiplegia
  • Sciatica

Heart & Blood

  • High cholesterol levels
  • Atherosclerosis

Lungs & Airways

  • Productive cough
  • Asthma (main symptom chest congestion)
  • Swine flu (H1N1)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Whooping cough (pertussis) – rarely used

Digestive Health

  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distension
  • Ulcer (in low dosage and with licorice and praval pishti)
  • Upset stomach
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Muscle, Bones & Joints

  • Muscle spasm
  • Low backache
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Skin & Hairs

  • Corns (Asafoetida gum’s paste application)
  • Calluses (Asafoetida gum’s paste application)

Women Health

  • Membranous dysmenorrhea
  • Secondary amenorrhea (it may not work in primary amenorrhea)
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Benefits & Uses of Asafoetida (Hing)

According to research study published in Journal of Ethno-pharmacology, asafetida or extracted hing has antispasmodic property and hypotensive effects. Therefore, it can reduce the blood pressure and it can have benefits in muscle spasm. (3)

Asafoetida resin has a great medicinal value in Ayurveda and traditional herbal medicines. In traditional medicines, it is used for digestive ailment, mental disorders, heart diseases, and respiratory disorders.

It is commonly used in diseases listed in therapeutic indication heading above. In this section, we will discuss about the main uses and benefits of Asafoetida.

Brain & Nerves

Hysteria or conversion disorder

Hing is used with jaggery in this disease. It reduces symptoms of conversion disorder including impaired coordination or imbalance, hysterical aphonia, convulsions, tremor, fainting etc.

In this case, the dosage can vary from 10 mg to 125 mg of hing with 1/2 tsp. of jaggery.

Sciatica

In sciatica, ghee fried hing is used. It reduces numbness, sciatica nerve pain and stiffness. Ayurvedic doctors recommend using 125 mg hing with 250 mg Pushkaramool (Inula racemosa) powder with Nirgundi Decoction for getting rid of sciatic nerve pain and numbness of the legs.

Heart & Blood

High cholesterol levels & Atherosclerosis

Asafoetida reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. It can decrease the cholesterol absorption in the gastrointestinal tract and reduces blood cholesterol by improving cholesterol metabolism in the body.

It can prevent inflammation in the blood vessels, which is the primary cause of developing atherosclerosis and deposition of cholesterol plaque in the blood vessels.

High & Low blood pressure

However, it is contradictory fact that asafetida works in high blood pressure or low blood pressure. Research studies indicate that it can lower the blood pressure, whereas in traditional medicines it is used in case of hypotension. Some studies also suggested that it could increase blood pressure.

Ayurveda has answer for this contradictory fact. According to ayurveda, it only works in VATA and KAPHA disorders. High blood pressure with high cholesterol is believed to be a KAPHA & VATA nature. It would only work when you have raised cholesterol levels. It helps reducing cholesterol and widens the lumen of blood vessels, which helps in easy flow of blood. Thus, blood pressure is reduced.

In second case, patient with low blood pressure can also get benefits due to its hot potency. It also has cardiac stimulant property and thus normalizes the blood pressure. Hot potency is also required to reducing the cholesterol levels because hot potency of hing also improves metabolism of cholesterol in the body.

Digestive Health

The main effects of Asafoetida are on digestive health. It improves digestion, reduces flatulence and helps in irritable bowel syndrome.

Loss of appetite & Indigestion

Asafoetida is digestive stimulant. Its action is on digestive juices. It increases the acid production in the stomach and improves liver functions to secrete more bile salts. Therefore, it helps in overall digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Therefore, it is beneficial in loss of appetite and indigestion.

Gas, flatulence, bloating or abdominal distension

Asafoetida has carminative, anti-flatulent and antispasmodic properties, which helps in reducing gas, flatulence, bloating and abdominal distension.

Ulcer

However, Asafoetida is not a good medicine for ulcer. Its wrong dosage can result in severe ulceration. It works when you have white tongue in the morning and indigestion. You cannot take it alone because it would not help. For speed up healing process of ulcer, you also require using Licorice powder and AMLA (Indian gooseberry) powder with Asafoetida.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Asafoetida is a good home remedy for irritable bowel syndrome. It improves digestion due to its digestive stimulant property. It reduces abdominal cramps and pain due to its antispasmodic property. It also reduces flatulence, bloating and loose stools. It is highly beneficial in people having symptom of mucus in the stool.

Bones, Joints & Muscles

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Asafoetida resin has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and soothing action in rheumatoid arthritis. According to ayurvedic principles, it has hot potency and it reduces AMA toxins, which are responsible for rheumatoid arthritis. The visible effects appear using it for 15 days. Swelling and pain alleviate. We can notice significant improvement in joint movement and reduction in joint inflammation after using asafetida.

Dosage

The dosage of Asafoetida resin varies from 10 mg to 500 mg.

Dietary Dosage5 mg to 30 mg per day
Safest Therapeutic Dosage10 mg to 125 mg per day
Maximum Therapeutic Dosage250 mg per day

Asafoetida water (Hing Pani)

Take 300 ml water and add 50 mg Hing (Asafoetida resin). Boil the water and strain it. Consume this water in three divided dosages i.e. about 100 ml per dosage.

Warning

Some articles on the internet have written dosage of Asafoetida from 500 mg to 7500 mg, which is wrong dosage and potentially very harmful. This dosage can severely harm gastrointestinal tract and cause severe headache. Therefore, maximum dosage of Asafoetida should not exceed 250 mg per day (per 24 hours).

Caution & Side Effects

Asafoetida (Hing) is LIKELY SAFE in lower amount and amounts found in the foods. In larger amounts, it can have following side effects in some people.

  1. Heartburn or acidity (very common side effect)
  2. Headache (common)
  3. Burping (rare)
  4. Diarrhea (very rare)

According to ayurveda, Hing has very hot potency, which means it produces heat inside the body after its consumption. It can cause side effects in people sensitive to heat or having symptoms or history of gastritis, burning, heat sensation or bleeding disorders.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Asafoetida (Hing) can cause uterine contractions and lead to miscarriage. Therefore, we consider it UNSAFE in Pregnancy.

The FERULIC ACID and other chemicals present in Asafoetida can pass into the breast milk. It has very hot in nature, so it can also lead to bleeding disorders in infants. Therefore, we consider Asafoetida UNSAFE in Breastfeeding.

Precautions

You should not use asafoetida in children under age of 5 years. However, it may be safe in food amounts or amount less than 5 mg per day.

Contraindications

Bleeding disorders

Asafoetida can increase the chances of bleeding due to its hot potency. Therefore, you should avoid using it if you are suffering with any type of bleeding disorder.

Convulsions or Epilepsy (in larger dosage)

However, lower dosages are used in the treatment of convulsions and epilepsy. Mostly its external application is used for this purpose. It can harm in larger dosage in these diseases.

Before and after surgery

Asafoetida may increase the chances of bleeding or slow blood clotting process. You should stop taking it at least 14 days before surgery.

Other contraindications

  • Stomach ulceration (larger dosage)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Stomach upset
  • Infections of gastrointestinal tract

Drug Interactions

Asafoetida can interact with following medicines.

  • Antihypertensive drugs
  • Antiplatelet drugs
  • Anticoagulant drugs

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1 Q&A

  1. naresh says

    What is the treatment of diarrhea and acidity occurring due to overdose of Asafetida?

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