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What is asafoetida?
Asafoetida, technically, is a resin, a hard substance that is extracted from the large, carrot-shaped roots of kerola plants.
Once extracted, it is usually dried, then ground into a coarse yellow powder, and used either for culinary or medicinal purposes.
As a spice, it’s known for its strong and pungent aroma due to its high concentration of sulfur compounds. In fact, due to its unpleasant odor, this spice is sometimes referred to as fetid gum.
However, when cooked, its flavor and aroma becomes more palatable and is often described as similar to leeks, garlic, and even meat.
In addition to adding a distinctive flavor to dishes, asafoetida has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
For example, in Ayurvedic medicine, hing is used to aid in digestion and gas, as well as treat bronchitis and kidney stones. During the Middle Ages, chewing gum was sometimes worn around the neck to help ward off infection and disease.
Asafoetida is sulfurous smelling gum-resin that’s extracted from Furula plants. It’s traditionally ground into a powder and used either for its proposed medicinal qualities or as a spice to add a savory flavor to food.
The main reason for which this herbal dried extract was promoted as an edible spice was its capability to offer a smooth texture to curries and soups.
While it is famous with many other interesting names like food of the Gods and a few more, such names are an attribute to its never-ending health and beauty benefits it offers upon consumption.
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1. Anti-Ageing Benefits:
This herbal spice makes it a great anti-aging agent. It provides a good benefit in reducing wrinkles, fine lines and age spots from the face. It can be mixed with rose water and whole earth to form an effective anti-wrinkle face mask.
2. Skin whitening benefits:
Asafoetida can be used as a bleaching agent that enhances fairness and reduces dark spots, acne marks, and oiliness. It naturally hinders the production of tyrosine in the skin.
Tyrosine enhances the production of melanin in human skin which leads to skin darkening, premature aging, and dullness.
Asafoetida keeps tyrosine production in check. Thus, you can flaunt blemish-free, radiant and youthful skin by largely using Asafoetida face masks.
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3. Anti-Acne Benefits:
Do you suffer from skin problems affected by acne? This spice might just be the magic ingredient you’ve been missing in your skincare regimen so far.
This amazing herbal formula inhibits the production of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. It makes skin conditions unfavorable for bacterial growth. Thus, it can put an end to your year-long acne as well.
4. Good source of Antioxidants
It has also been found to be a good source of antioxidants.
These plant compounds help protect your cells from potential damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. As a result, antioxidants may also help protect against chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Specifically, it has been shown to contain high amounts of phenolic compounds, such as tannins and flavonoids, which are known for their powerful antioxidant effects.
While test-tube and animal studies have found asafoetida to exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, more research is needed on the potential antioxidant effects in humans.
Additionally, because asafoetida is used in small amounts when cooking, it is unclear whether the use of the spice in cooking will still provide these potential health benefits.
5. Radiance Promoting Benefits:
Asafoetida acts as a radiance enhancer that imparts an endless glow to the skin. It increases the supply of facial tissues with oxygen, making them lively and plump. You get light pink skin that glows well.
The best side benefit of this radiance-boosting feature is to completely remove unsightly dark circles under the eyes.
6. Anti-Dryness Benefits:
Pollution and stress cause dry skin and hair and damage. Asafoetida acts as a dryness repairing agent that provides smooth and hydrated skin.
It can erase all visible signs of skin dryness such as dullness, flaking, cracking, freckles, wrinkles and pigmentation.
7. Treats Allergies And Corns:
Other than making the skin free of blemishes, asafoetida also works to treat corn and skin allergies. Various skin allergies caused by sun damage or dryness can be treated with asafoetida within a few weeks of use.
8. Hair Conditioning Benefits:
Asafoetida can also be used to make hair conditioning masks. It effectively locks in moisture in the scalp. This amazing feature makes it a deep conditioning product that can control the problem of dry and frizzy hair to a great extent.
9. May help reduce symptoms of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition (GI) characterized by abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or both.
Due to its potential effects on digestion, asafoetida is believed to help reduce symptoms associated with IBS.
Two small studies in adults with IBS found significant improvement in reported symptoms IBS after 2 weeks of taking asafoetida supplements. Another study found no effect of supplementation on symptoms IBS.
In general, research on whether asafoetida is effective in managing IBS symptoms is very limited.
However, there is a less direct way that asafoetida can benefit people with IBS as a substitute for onions and garlic in cooking.
Onions and garlic contain high amounts of fructans – a non-digestible, fermentable carbohydrate that can cause digestive upset in some individuals with IBS.
10. Hair Fall Controlling Benefits:
Asafoetida improves hair texture. It also protects the hair from heavy and unnatural hair loss. Therefore, it is used as a solution for baldness in males and thinning hair in females.
You should look forward to the amazing benefits of hair follicle strengthening and dandruff controlling Asafoetida, as it controls hair fall and makes hair thicker.
11. Scalp Health Maintenance:
The scalp produces hair follicles. When the health of the scalp is affected, it makes the hair roots weaker. This leads to hair loss and damage. Asafoetida restores and maintains the normal PH level of the scalp.
It also protects the scalp from sweat, oils and acne. Naturally removes scalp problems such as acne, oiliness, dandruff and dryness. As a result, the strength, texture and overall quality of the hair improve.
12. Eases Menstrual Cramps:
Menstrual cramps are nightmares for all women who suffer from them. Asafoetida relieves this problem by reducing pain around the waist and lower abdomen.
Thus, it can be used during times of severe menstrual cramps to relieve the sensation of constant pain.
13. Worm Repellent:
Perhaps, asafoetida’s pungent smell works in favor of repelling its worms. It should be taken at night with warm water. It expels intestinal worms when taken regularly with Ajwain.
14. Anti-Impotency Benefits:
Asafoetida is a powerful natural ingredient that can be used to treat some problems related to impotence.
It increases female sex drive and provides freedom from premature ejaculation problem to a large extent. It is already a proven pressure regulator. This also helps in improving the male sex drive.
15. Increases Physical Well Being:
Asafoetida increases and maintains heart health. It is also a useful medicine for the respiratory system against coughing and breathing problems.
Thus it is clear that this herbal spice increases the blood supply to all tissues and cells. This maximizes and ensures that each cell receives the required oxygen content. Thus, it reduces physical fatigue by giving tired tissues a chance to repair.
16. Increases Metabolism:
These amazing health benefits help with many health issues. Asafoetida increases the body’s metabolism to a large extent. This improves digestion. Hence, it triggers fat metabolism as well.
This obstructs the blood circulation of LDL (bad cholesterol) in human blood. Thus, asafoetida protects you from all heart problems caused by cholesterol formation and accumulation.
17. Anti-Depressive Benefits:
Asafoetida has historically been used as an antidepressant. Its ability to bring about happiness and reduce thoughts of failure and negativity makes it a powerful natural antidepressant as well.
18. Mood Elevating Benefits:
Asafoetida is also known for its mood-elevating benefits. This is not a medicine, but a herbal formulation that triggers the production of the happiness hormone and hinders the production of stress.
This is a powerful stress management spice that should be used with caution. Don’t be tempted to use it if you have a declared history of mania.
19. Contraceptive Benefits:
Modern science is still working to find the contraceptive benefits of asafoetida. However, this herbal spice has historically been used as a powerful contraceptive against unwanted pregnancy.
It has historically been used as a failed pill as well. Hence, be sure to use this spice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
20. Anti-Acidic Benefits:
Asafoetida acts like a natural alkaloid that dilutes excess acid in the stomach. It also relieves stomach and intestinal problems. Thus, it is an amazing anti-flatulence agent that relieves stomach pain and acidity.
21. Opium Antidote:
Asafoetida offers the benefit of being used as an opiate antagonist. He has a history of treating gallbladder infections and many other stomach problems.
It is also a powerful digestive enhancer. All this proves its effectiveness as an antidote to opium.
22. Healing Benefits:
Asafoetida has a long history of being used as a medicine to heal stomach infections as well. Current studies have proven the efficiency of these wonderful herbs in the treatment of wounds and burns.
Direct application to wounds in the form of a paste reduces the appearance of the wound and also reduces pain.
23. Digestive Benefits:
The current lifestyle, devoid of movement and physical work, easily leads to digestive problems.
Asafoetida is a natural shield to prevent and treat digestive problems easily. It flushes toxins from the human digestive system. It is a natural enemy of these toxins that slow down the digestion process in humans. Hence, it helps in facilitating proper digestion by restoring the normal PH level of the stomach.
It successfully provides freedom from the most common problem of improper digestion, namely constipation.
24. Anti-Epileptic Benefits:
The amazing health benefits of Asafoetida are not limited to traditional cough and cold remedies. The spice is also Unani’s powerful anti-epileptic medicine.
Unani is the ancient science of treating diseases. It is still very common and a natural way to prevent disease. However, beware of using asafoetida as a preventative measure against epilepsy.
In cases of confirmed epilepsy, you should seek advice from a certified physician.
25. Anti-Asthmatic Benefits:
Asthma and bronchitis are two types of acute respiratory syndromes. Asafoetida is largely a natural enemy of these respiratory syndromes. It leads to the production of natural antibodies once a person has caught a cold.
This powerful immune booster makes breathing easier. Hence, it is a powerful remedy against colds, asthma and bronchitis.
26. Anti-Viral Benefits:
This is just the beginning of the long list of health benefits offered by this amazing herbal spice. The latest studies have proven that asafoetida inhibits the growth and reproduction of harmful viruses such as H1N1. When this herbal spice comes into contact with the influenza-causing H1N1 virus, it stimulates the production of natural antibiotics against viral attack. Detailed research and independent studies are being done today to find more about the amazing benefits of this herbal formula against other viral agents as well. In short, this edible ingredient provides strong immunity against viral influenza infection.
Other possible benefits
While studies on asafoetida are quite limited, early research suggests that it may have additional benefits, including:
- Antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects. Test-tube studies have found asafoetida may help protect against potential pathogens, such as various strains of Streptococcus bacteria.
- Help lower blood pressure. Asafoetida may help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. However, research is very limited and has only been studied in animals.
- Anticancer effects. Animal and test-tube studies have shown a potential for asafoetida to help stop the growth and spread of certain cancer cells, including breast and liver cancer.
- Protect brain health. Several animal studies have found asafoetida may help protect against memory loss and nerve damage in the brain.
- Help ease asthma symptoms. Mice studies have shown asafoetida to have a relaxing effect on airway smooth muscles, which is important in the treatment of asthma. While promising, this effect hasn’t been proven in humans
- Help lower blood sugar levels. One study in rats found 50 mg/kg of asafoetida extract to reduce fasting blood sugar levels. However, this effect hasn’t been studied in humans.
Overall, while animal and test-tube studies suggest many potential benefits of this pungent spice, there’s currently a lack of evidence in humans to support these claims.
It’s also worth noting that these studies use a concentrated form of asafoetida rather than the amounts typically used when cooking. As a result, culinary use of the spice may have minimal effects.
Asafoetida is rich in antioxidants and may provide multiple health benefits, particularly for digestive health. However, as research is currently limited, studies in humans are needed to confirm these effects.
Potential side effects of asafoetida
While research on the safety of asafoetida in humans is limited, the amounts of asafoetida that are commonly used in cooking are believed to be generally safe for most individuals.
One human study found that 250 mg twice daily for 30 days was well tolerated by participants.
However, animal studies suggest that large doses of asafoetida may cause mouth swelling, gas, diarrhea, anxiety, and headaches. Furthermore, a study in mice reports potential toxicity at doses greater than 455 mg per pound (1,000 mg per kg) of body weight.
Additionally, due to a lack of research, asafoetida is not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women or young children.
Because it may lower blood pressure or thin the blood, people who take blood pressure medications or blood-thinning medications should avoid asafoetida supplements.
When used as a seasoning, asafoetida is often mixed with wheat flour or rice flour. As a result, asafoetida products (or hinges) may not be gluten-free. This can be a particular concern when eating out in a restaurant that uses Hing powder in their dishes.
If you have any questions or concerns, it is important to consult your healthcare provider before trying asafoetida.
When used in small amounts for cooking, asafoetida is likely safe for most individuals. However, due to a lack of research, asafoetida may not be safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or when consumed in large doses.
How to use asafoetida
Asafoetida has been used for thousands of years to add flavor to dishes. In fact, the ancient Romans used to store it in jars with pine nuts for use as a seasoning.
Today, ground asafoetida powder, often called hinges, can be found online.
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If you are on a gluten-free diet, be sure to look for hing powder mixed with rice flour instead of wheat.
YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO GET ASAFOETIDA POWDER (GLUTEN FREE)
For culinary uses of hing powder, it is recommended to incorporate it into hot oil or another source of fat to help reduce the sulfur flavor and odor.
In Indian cuisine, hing powder is often paired with other spices such as turmeric or cumin to provide a savory flavor and umami flavor to lentil or vegetable-based dishes. In France, it is sometimes used to add a flavor-enhancing effect to steaks.
As a dietary supplement, asafoetida is available in capsule form. While one study found that 250 mg twice daily helped reduce indigestion, general research on a safe and effective dose is lacking.
The bottom line
Asafoetida is a dried vegetable juice that has been used for centuries for its potential health benefits and unique flavour.
It has been proven to be a good source of antioxidants. However, while limited research points to multiple benefits, particularly for digestive health, more research is needed especially in humans.
However, when ground into a powder, hinges can be a good addition to your spice cabinet. Just a small pinch can add a savory quality to dishes, such as curries, lentils, soups and stews.