It is week 3 of #OpenNTalk Blogging league, and I am so excited to share the amazing power of natural substance with this series.
And in today’s post, I will share again something that is completely natural and purely magical. it is true that,
It is always fascinating to me learn about the health benefits and amazing healing properties of routine kitchen ingredients and spices. Spices are used not only for thousands of years as food flavouring agent to enhance the sensory quality of food, they possess excellent therapeutic and medicinal properties as well.
Asafoetida is one of them. Asafoetida or Ferula asafoetida is a herbaceous plant that belongs to Umbelliferae family. It is an oleo-gum-resin obtained from the rhizome and root of the plant. As the name suggested, it has a typical fetid smell and a nauseating taste. It is also called the “devil’s dung”. This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles.
According to National Institute of Health, Asafoetida has excellent antidiabetic, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties and has been used traditionally for the treatment of different diseases such as a whooping cough, ulcer, epilepsy, bronchitis, asthma and stomach-ache. Because of these numerous therapeutic and curative power, this spice is also referred as the “food of the gods”.
History and distribution
Asafoetida is native to central Asia, Eastern Iran to Afghanistan and today it is grown chiefly in Iran and Afghanistan, from where it is exported to the rest of the world. Though it is not native to India, it has been used in Indian cookery and medicine system for ages.
What are the traditional medicinal uses of Asafoetida? What are its health benefits? And how can we select a good quality asafoetida and store it? And how can we make some easy nutritious recipes with asafoetida? Read on to know more.
Traditional medicinal uses of Asafoetida
The different parts of asafoetida plant have been used as a traditional medicine worldwide since ancient time. Such as in:
· Afghanistan – the hot water extract of the dried gum taken orally for treating hysteria, whooping cough and ulcers.
· China- the decoction of the plant is used as anti-helminthic medicine.
· Egypt- hot water extract of the dried root used orally as an anti-spasmodic, analgesic and diuretic medicine.
· USA- the fluid extract of resin has been used as a powerful brain and nerve stimulant.
· Saudi Arabia– dried gum is used for treating respiratory infections.
· India– it has been reputed as a drug, which expels wind from the stomach and counteracts any spasmodic disorders.
Asafoetida has lots of health benefits. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of Asafoetida.
Health benefits of Asafoetida
Asafoetida for gastrointestinal tract
It is an effective remedy for several diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. It is an essential ingredient for most of the digestive powders. In case of flatulence and distention of the stomach, asafoetida is dissolved in hot water and pad of cloth steeped in it may be used for fomenting the abdomen.
According to scientific studies, Asafoetida has been found to be an excellent homeopathic remedy for treating IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) and works wonderfully to relieve the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome. In 14-week double-blind trial study, about 100 people with IBS syndrome received Asafoetida D3 or Placebo. The results showed that participants taking the homeopathic remedy asafoetida improved to a greater extent than those taking a placebo.
Another scientific study shows that asafoetida prominently enhanced the pancreatic Lipase activity and also stimulated the pancreatic amylase. This way it supports the digestion and digestive enzymatic activity.
Asafoetida helps in prevention of cancer
Asafoetida has anti-cancerous properties and plays a good role in the prevention of cancer. According to a report published in Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, Asafoetida has potent anti-tumour and ant metastasis effects on breast cancer and it could be a potential source of the natural antitumor product.
In this study, the researcher observed that asafoetida was effective in decreasing the tumour weight and tumour volume in treated mice. Apart from anti-tumour effect asafoetida decreased lung, liver and kidney metastasis and also increased the areas of necrosis in the tumour tissue respectively.
Asafoetida has the antihypertensive effect
Asafoetida has significant hypotensive properties and helps in reduction of mean arterial blood pressure. Research using animal subjects has shown that Ferula asafoetida gum extract significantly reduced the mean arterial blood pressure. The research concluded that gum extract seems to contain relaxant compounds that have a positive effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
Asafoetida for treating women’s aliments
Asafoetida is very useful in the treatment of several problems concerning women such as sterility, the unwanted abortion, premature labour, leucorrhoea, and painful, difficult menstruation. Owing to great anti-flatulent and digestive properties, it has been used in the post-delivery period with beneficial results.
Asafoetida for asthma and respiratory symptoms
Scientific studies were shown that asafoetida has a relaxant effect on tracheal muscles, because of its constituent’s umbelliprenin. This relaxant effect helps in bronchodilation and helps in relieving the symptoms of asthma. Also, the volatile oil in the asafoetida gum is eliminated through the lungs, making this an excellent remedy for asthma.
Asafoetida is a potent anti-bacterial agent
Asafoetida has great anti-bacterial properties. According to a report from applied biology and biotechnology, the scientist has used two types of Asafoetida (red and white) to screen the anti-microbial activity against 5 different bacterial strains and result concluded that both extract of F. Asafoetida shown the strong antibacterial activity against all the bacterial strains. And that’s why asafoetida can be used as a great anti-bacterial agent against various bacterial infections; mainly it works great in infections related to digestive system.
Asafoetida has neuroprotective properties
Traditional usage and some recent findings suggested that asafoetida can exert the neuroprotective and nerve stimulating effect on nervous system. It has been used in Ayurveda for treating epilepsy, anxiety and mood disorders for ages. According to a scientific study conducted for evaluating the neuroprotective effect of asafoetida indicate that gum resin of asafoetida in lower doses has the neuroprotective effect on nervous system and increase the survival rate of them, however, in higher concentration, it is toxic for neurons.
Asafoetida has analgesic action
Pain is a seriously unpleasant sensation that diminishes the quality of life. It has been observed that commonly used analgesic often causes undesirable side effects and today the search for new and natural analgesic compounds has been a priority of pharmaceutical industry.
Asafoetida is one of the great natural substances that have analgesic action. In a comparative study with two other drugs (Morphine sulphate and sodium diclofenac), asafoetida has shown a good analgesic effect with a dose of 50mg/kg and the maximum effect was observed after 60 min of drug administration. It has been believed that analgesic and anti-inflammatory action of asafoetida may be due the presence of phenolic compound such as ferulic acid. However, its active component and their mechanism of action need to be elucidated by further studies
Nutritional value of Asafoetida
Asafoetida comprises of resin (40-65%), gum (20-25%), and volatile oil (4 to 20%). The resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols A and B, ferulic acid, umbelliferone, and four unidentified compounds. The volatile portion contains pinene, cadinene, and vanillin.
Asafoetida is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It consist of carbohydrate 67.8% per 100 grams, moisture 16.0%, protein 4.0%, fat 1.1%, minerals 7.0% and fiber 4.1%. Its mineral and vitamin content includes substantial calcium besides phosphorus, Iron, carotene, riboflavin and niacin.
Of course, Asafoetida is a spice that adds distinct flavour and taste to various routine dishes and used widely in vegetarian cuisine to harmonize the sweet, sour, salty and spicy component in food. Apart from that, asafoetida is commonly combined with lentils or other legumes to reduce gas post meal and keep flatulence in check.
Though asafoetida is not a spice to use in everything, but it compliments most commonly used Indian vegetables like cauliflower, peas, potato and often used as a tempering for curries and lentils. Here I am sharing three super easy and nutritious recipes with Asafoetida. I remember my mom serving these dishes quite often as we were growing up and how delicious it was.
How to choose and store Asafoetida
Asafoetida is easily available at any Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store. It is not expensive and can be readily purchased online. Sometimes, asafoetida is adulterated with soapstone or other earthy material which can adversely affect one’s health.
We can distinguish the adulterated asafoetida from pure one by performing these simple tests.
Purpose– to know the impurity of stone or other earthy material.
Method– adds some water to asafoetida sample and shakes it vigorously. Earthy material or soapstone will settle down at the bottom.
Purpose– to know the purity of asafoetida
Method- Take 1 gram of asafoetida in a test tube and add 1 teaspoon water. Mixed thoroughly by shaking, a milky white solution with no sediments indicates the pure asafoetida. But in case of adulteration with a chemical, the mixture turns to be coloured.
Also, as another test you can burn the asafoetida sample on a spoon if the sample burns like a camphor, it indicates the sample is pure (pure asafoetida burns like aromatic camphor)
Asafoetida is commonly available in powder or granulated form and it should be stored in an airtight container away from light, heat and air. Otherwise, its sulphurous odour will affect other food and spice.
Asafoetida side effects
· Usually, asafoetida considered safe for most people when consumed in the amounts typically found in foods. However, it may cause certain side effects in susceptible individuals such as swelling of lips, nausea, headache, diarrhoea, convulsions, blood disorders and other side effects.
- · It might cause a miscarriage; avoid using it if you are pregnant.
- · Avoid using it if you are breastfeeding. It might cause bleeding disorders in the nursing infant. Always ask your doctor before using it.
- · It might increase the risk of bleeding; avoid using it if you have any bleeding disorders.
- · If you are suffering from any pre-existing disease conditions like diabetes, hypertension or any Gastrointestinal issues or infection, and taking prescribed medication for the same, always consult your doctor before consuming it.
- · Asafoetida might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking it at least 2 weeks prior scheduled surgery.
Tough Asafoetida is an amazing spice that offers numerous culinary and health benefits. Like any other home or herbal remedy, it may cause some side effects is some people. If you are suffering from any pre-existing disease condition or had a known history of any side effects from spices, it is always recommended to take a professional medical advice before adding this powerful and beneficial substance to your diet.
Did you have observed any other health benefits of this spice? Please share with us!
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