Asafoetida Benefits Dosage And Side Effects

Asafoetida (Hing) Benefits Dosage And Side Effects


Asafoetida, commonly known as Hing in India, is the latex (gum-like substance) that is extracted from the roots of the herb Ferula asafoetida and its several varieties. The plant is mainly found in the Mediterranean regions eastern and central Asia. Asafoetida is highly valued for its medicinal properties, especially that aid in digestion.


In Ayurveda, asafoetida has been described as a laxative (aids in digestion and promotes bowel movement), and a flatulent (helps in expulsion of gas and reduces bloating).


There are about 170 species of Ferula, of which three are grown in India, mainly in the states of Kashmir and Punjab. The plant belongs to the family Apiaceae and is a herb, perennial (living for more than two years), and usually grows to a height of 4 metres. The stem of the plant is hollow and succulent (water-storing). The flowers are usually yellow in colour. The roots and rhizomes (horizontal mass of roots) are the most valued part of the plant from which the latex ‘oleoresin’ is obtained. The latex is dried to produce asafoetida or hing.

Asafoetida Benefits Dosage And Side Effects


Some basic facts about asafoetida (hing)


Botanical Name: Ferula asafoetida

Family: Apiaceae

Common Name: Hing, Hinger, Kayam, Yang, Hengu, Preungayam, Inguva, Ingumo

Sanskrit Name: Badhika, Agudagandhu

Parts Used: Dried latex of roots and rhizomes

Native Region and Geographical Distribution: Mediterranean regions of Central and Eastern Asia

  • Asafoetida (hing) uses and benefits
  • Asafoetida (hing) powder
  • Asafoetida (hing) dosage
  • Side effects of asafoetida (hing)


Asafoetida (hing) uses and benefits

The history of asafoetida use dates back to the Roman empire. Even today, hing is widely used as a flavouring agent added to curries and pickles. The benefits that can be derived from hing are numerous which makes it one of the most useful ingredients in Ayurvedic medicine. Let us look at some of the important benefits of hing.


Improves digestion: Asafoetida is used for its digestive benefits in ayurvedic medicine. It has a restoring effect on stomach pH and is also effective in improving the function of digestive juices. It also reduces stomach gas and bloating.

Boosts memory: Hing is an excellent antioxidant which prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical responsible for transmitting brain signals. This helps in preserving memory and improving cognition (learning capacity).

Reduces weight: Asafoetida promotes weight loss by reducing fat accumulation. It also improves digestion and metabolism, thus helping you shed those pound quickly.

Reduces blood pressure: Clinical studies suggest that hing is effective in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive people. This is mainly attributed to the vasorelaxant properties (relaxes blood vessels) of the active ingredients found in hing.

Improves kidney function: Hing is known to be a diuretic in traditional medicine. Being an antioxidant, it prevents kidney damage and promotes kidney function.

Natural antimicrobial: Hing possesses potent antimicrobial properties and is used in ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various infections. Hing essential oil has been found to inhibit the growth of most common pathogenic bacteria and fungi. It is also used as a food preservative in pickles and fermented foods.

  • Asafoetida (hing) for digestion
  • Asafoetida (hing) as an antacid
  • Asafoetida (hing) as antimicrobial
  • Asafoetida (hing) for food preservation
  • Asafoetida (hing) for liver
  • Asafoetida (hing) for heart
  • Asafoetida (hing) for kidney
  • Asafoetida (hing) for memory
  • Asafoetida (hing) for relaxation
  • Asafoetida (hing) for blood pressure
  • Asafoetida (hing) for diabetes
  • Asafoetida (hing) for cancer
  • Asafoetida (hing) for weight loss

Asafoetida (hing) for digestion

The major benefit of hing is that it aids in the process of digestion. The Ayurvedic text 'Charak Samhita' mentions hing as a herb that improves digestion. Hing is a major ingredient of many churanas (a mixture of powdered herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine), especially those that improve digestion.


Asafoetida helps to get rid of toxins in the stomach and restores its pH (acidic balance) that is necessary to maintain digestion and smooth functioning of the digestive juices. Studies have found that inclusion of prescribed amounts of hing in the regular diet reduces the chances of irritable bowel syndrome (constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps).


Asafoetida (hing) as an antacid

Studies have found that consumption of asafoetida increases the flow of salivary and gastric juices. Asafoetida helps to reduce acidity in the stomach by catalysing the activity of enzymes in the stomach that reduce bloating and cause expulsion of gas. Consuming asafoetida​ also increase the flow of pancreatic juices that contribute to digestion.


Patients with gastrointestinal (stomach and gut related) disorders are recommended specific dosages of asafoetida to help keep their acidity in check. The occurrence of gastrointestinal ulcers can also be prevented by monitored usage of hing.


Asafoetida (hing) as antimicrobial

The benefits of hing as an antimicrobial agent are also well-known. In herbal medicine, asafoetida has been used for treatment against various bacteria and fungi. The essential oils obtained from the gum-resin (latex) of Ferula asafoetida are found to have antimicrobial effects against a wide variety of pathogens as Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Aspergillus niger and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Hing is, thus, recommended for medicinal and therapeutic purposes in cases of microbial infection.


Asafoetida (hing) for food preservation

The antimicrobial property of hing can also be employed for the preservation of foods. Certain essential oils extracted from hing act as natural antioxidants. Hing when added to foods, thus, prevents them from oxidising and acts as a preservative.


Additionally, hing can also hinder the growth of unwanted bacteria and fungi. This makes it a most favoured preservative in pickles and packed foods. Hing is used to provide oxidative stability in storing fatty foods and as a good source of antibacterial agent in the food industry.


Asafoetida (hing) for liver

Formulations prepared from asafoetida along with other medicinal herbs have been found to act as a good hepatoprotective (liver-protecting) agent. In a study, aqueous extract of asafoetida prepared and given to patients with liver-related disorders showed significant recovery by decreasing the activity of certain enzymes that decrease the metabolic functions of the liver. The data obtained from the study also showed that toxicity in the liver caused by carbon tetrachloride was significantly reduced upon administration of a regulated dosage of asafoetida.


Asafoetida (hing) for heart

Compounds in asafoetida extract such as flavonoids are responsible for its anti-oxidizing properties. Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing the free radicals present in the bloodstream. Free radicals are highly reactive in nature and can cause damage to the internal organs. Under oxidative stress conditions, flavonoids protect the heart. Flavonoids also contribute to several essential biological functions that reduce the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.


Asafoetida (hing) for kidney

Traditionally, asafoetida has been used in Iranian medicine as a diuretic, i.e. it increases urination. In a recent study, it was found that monitored use of asafoetida significantly increased urine volume and percentage of sodium and potassium in the urine. Flavonoids and other such bioactive compounds present in the gum extract of asafoetida were found to contribute to its diuretic property.


Asafoetida (hing) for memory

Hing has been known to significantly boost memory power and learning capacity. Asafoetida is a powerful antioxidant and has the capability to inhibit the action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter, the chemical that enables transmission of nerve impulses.


Acetylcholine is required for proper functioning of the memory cells. Asafoetida, thus, increases the memory potential of the brain by functioning to preserve the neurotransmitter. Studies have found that use of hing in anti-dementia therapies can prove to be beneficial.


Asafoetida (hing) for relaxation

Studies have reported that the gum extract of Ferula asafoetida contains antispasmodic (relaxing) properties. Hing has often been recommended for relieving muscle spasms.


Several relaxant compounds are present in the gum extract of asafoetida that react with specific reactors in the brain cells and produce a feeling of relaxation. The compounds also impart mobility to the calcium ions in cells that are required for contraction of the muscle cells.  


Asafoetida (hing) for blood pressure

Hing also acts as a hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) agent when consumed in a dose-dependent manner. In a study, the gum extract of asafoetida was found to prevented hypertension or significantly lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.


A major constituent of the herb, ferulic acid was found to have blood pressure lowering capabilities. The acid increases the availability of nitrogen oxide, a vasorelaxant (relaxing tension in blood vessels) produced by the blood cells, thus lowering blood pressure.


Asafoetida (hing) for diabetes

The extract obtained from asafoetida was also found to have hypoglycemic property, i.e. it reduces blood sugar.


Presence of compounds such as phenolic acid and tannin present in the resin extract of hing is believed to contribute towards its anti-diabetic property. The potential of hing to manage diabetes is under research and yet to be established in vivo.


Asafoetida (hing) for cancer

Hing extract was also found to have tumour reducing property. According to a study conducted, the effect of carcinogens (cancer-causing elements present in the environment) was significantly reduced by the use of asafoetida thus establishing its potential to act against tumours.


The increased antioxidant and drug mobilizing (delivering) properties of asafoetida also contribute towards its anti-carcinogenic activities. Hing can, thus, potentially be a chemopreventive (preventing cancer) herb.


Asafoetida (hing) for weight loss

Asafoetida has also been found to have potential anti-obesity property. Administered doses of hing in the diet can contribute to weight loss by decreasing abnormal fat and body weight. Hing also significantly aids in digestion and helps in increasing metabolic functions, all factors contributing towards the management of weight. Diabetes-induced obesity can also be reduced by consumption of asafoetida.  


Asafoetida (hing) powder

Hing available in the market is mostly found in powder or tablet forms. The two varieties of hing mostly used to prepare hing powder are Lal Hing (red asafoetida) and Kabuli Safed Hing (white asafoetida). White asafoetida is soluble in water whereas red asafoetida is soluble in oil.


Asafoetida has a strong pungent smell due to the sulphur compounds present in it and is bitter and acidic in taste. People prefer not to use pure hing due to its strong flavour, so hing powder is prepared by mixing it with gum and starch.


Asafoetida (hing) dosage

Hing is most readily available in powder form in India. The medicinal dosage recommended for hing is usually about 125-500 mg. However, the actual dosage may vary depending on the weight, age and physiology of an individual. It is, therefore, important to consult a physician before using asafoetida medicinally.


Side effects of asafoetida (hing)

Asafoetida is usually safe when consumed in the amounts that are found in foods typically. However, the medicinal use of hing may give rise to some side effects in certain people. The side effects that can arise as a result of hing intake have been discussed below.


Increased consumption of asafoetida may cause swelling of the lips in certain people. This effect usually does not last long and disappears after some hours. However, if the condition seems to persist it is important to consult a physician at the earliest.

Though asafoetida is used as a flatulent (causing expulsion of gas), in certain people excessive use of hing in foods may cause gastric problems to increase and produce a burning sensation or feeling of nausea. It is, therefore, advised that one should have a light snack before consuming any meal that has a relatively high amount of hing in it.

Another side effect of asafoetida consumption is that it may cause skin rashes and swelling in certain people. If the swelling or rashes persist, you should consult a physician immediately.

Excessive consumption asafoetida may lead to some people experiencing dizziness or headaches.

Asafoetida is a natural hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) and blood thinning agent. This effect may cause a delay in blood clotting in people with blood and related disorders. People taking medicines for high blood pressure must always consult a physician before consuming hing as it has been found to interact with such drugs.

Pregnant women are advised not to consume hing in their diet as it could lead to miscarriage. Also, mothers that are lactating should avoid taking asafoetida as it may reach the baby through breastfeeding and cause blood-related disorders.

People with issues related to the central nervous system or those who have survived convulsion related problems or paralysis should avoid hing. If consumed, it may trigger the chances of a seizure in such people.

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