Asafoetida is popularly known as Hing in Hindi. It is a dry latex or resinous gum of a tall perennial plant. The latex is collected in earthen vessels, dried and then packed in leather bags in the form of Hing. This process is done before the plant flowers.
Asafoetida is dirty yellow in colour, acrid and also bitter in taste. It emits a strong, disagreeable, pungent odour due to the presence of sulphur compounds. The odour is stronger and more tenacious than that of onion. It is used as a flavouring agent and forms a constituent of many spice mixtures.
Origin & Distribution
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Asafoetida has several varieties which are distributed from the Mediterranean region to Central Asia. It is grown in Kandhar, Iran, Persia, and Afghanistan. In India, it is also grown in Kashmir and in some parts of Punjab. There are two main varieties of asafoetida ie. Hing Kabuli Sufaid (Milky white Asafoetida) and Hing Lal (Red Asafoetida).
Since pure asafoetida is not preferred due to its strong flavour, so it is mixed with starch and gum and sold as compounded asafoetida mostly in bracket form. In India, Hing is mostly sold either in the tablet form or in the powdered form.
Hing is widely used in the indigenous system of medicines from the earliest times in India. It is a nerve stimulant, digestive agent and also a sedative. Some studies show that Asafoetida has antibiotic properties and inhibits the growth of microbes.
Asafoetida is absorbed from intestines and due to various volatile oils, it is extracted through lungs, skin, and kidneys, leaving a sedative effect.
1. Digestive Disorders
Hing is a gas relieving food and an ideal medicine for several digestive disorders. This spice has been found beneficial in the treatment of spasmodic disorders, indigestion, and also colic.
In the case of flatulence and distension of the stomach, it should be dissolved in hot water and a cloth soaked in it may be used for fomenting the abdomen. The spice can also be beneficial for intestinal flatulence.
2. Respiratory Disorders
Hing possesses the expectorant property and it removes phlegm from the bronchial tubes. It thus helps control respiratory disorders like cough, asthma, and also bronchitis.
About a pinch of Hing should be mixed with 2teaspoons of honey, a quarter teaspoon of onion juice and 1 teaspoon of betel leaf juice, thrice daily. This mixture will be beneficial for prevention and also for the treatment of these diseases. The smoke of Hing can be inhaled through a pipe to relieve the paroxysm of Asthma.
3. Infectious Diseases
Hing is used as preventive medicine for infectious diseases. In older times, it is used to be tied in a cloth and then left hanging in one of the corners of the house. It was believed that the smell emitted from the cloth was also responsible for preventing diseases. The volatile oils and smell might have an influence on micro-organisms.
4. Aches & Pains
This spice possesses painkilling properties. 2gms of Hing dissolved in 1tbsp of coconut oil is applied as an analgesic balm in arthritis, myalgia, and also traumatic swelling. The powder of the spice can also be applied with beneficial results on painful teeth and gums.
Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information, and experiences. This resinous gum is said to help regenerate the brain and the nervous system and thereby help in increasing the memory. It can be used as a mind tonic in a powdered form.
One and a half teaspoon of this powder should be dissolved in water. Let it boil for about 5 min. Keep it aside to cool, then have a glass of the water slowly. This gives a feeling of mental alertness and also sharpens memory.
Hysteria is often used to describe emotionally-charged behavior that seems excessive and out of control. This spice is highly beneficial in the treatment of hysteria. In the case of Hysterial attacks, it should be inhaled. When it is not possible to take oral doses, 2gms with 120ml of water should be used as an enema per rectum.
7. Intestinal Worms
Hing is also regarded in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western medicine as an effective remedy for worms and other intestinal parasites. It can be administered as an enema for this purpose.
8. Children’s Ailments
The use of Hing has been found valuable in the treatment of nervous disorders of children. In older days in Europe, a small piece was hung around a child’s neck, to protect it from any diseases, especially germs which are sensitive to its particular odour.
This spice is also useful for a woman after child’s birth. Its use will keep her free from gas formation and other digestive disorders owing to antiflatulent and digestive properties.
The use of this spice is found valuable in fever also called as Kala-Azar. It is characterized by irregular fever, progressive anemia and also an increase in temperature. A small piece of asafoetida one piece of garlic should be mixed and taken once in a day for a week in treating this disease.
Uses Of Hing ( Asafoetida)
Hing is being used in the Indian kitchen from so long. The uses of Hing are never-ending. It is used to add flavours in your meals like in curries, dals, and also in pickles. It is used in Europe and The United States in perfumes for flavouring. Hing is useful in many medicinal forms. They are even helpful in pharmacy industries.
Hing should not be taken in excess, due to its semitoxic effects. Infants and children should be given Hing in oral form as it can cause vomitings which can lead to dehydration.
As discussed Hing ( Asafoetida) has endless benefits. The main point is, it is easily available in every home but we are not aware of the uses and the benefits of the spices.
If we have proper knowledge about the benefits of the spices we use every day in our daily life maybe we have solutions to many of our problems.
If you want to know about the brief description of all the Indian spices used in our everyday life and their health benefits, please click here.