Health Benefits of Asafoetida
Posted on: November 22, 2020.

What it is and about its cultivation…

Asafoetida is the dried latex or gum-resin—commonly “sap”—extracted from the carrot-shaped ‘rhizome’ or tap root of the Ferula plant—botanically Ferula assa-foetida—that belongs to the carrot family.

The Ferula plant mostly grows in the arid “winter” climates of its native region between the Mediterranean and Central Asia—chiefly Iran, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan—and exported to other parts of the world.

However, the need to import asafoetida to India no longer persists, thanks to the initiative in the recent past taken by the CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT).

As per recent reports regarding the CSIR-IHBT joint initiative, asafoetida is being cultivated indigenously in India at Lahaul valley in Himachal Pradesh. As a spice, it imparts a savory flavor to food.

The coarse, yellow powder—into which the dried extract is ground—is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The high concentration of sulfur compounds in asafoetida renders it a strong, pungent odor.

Also known as heeng, this ingredient is definitely one of the Indian kitchen stapes, one of the most essential spices in Indian cuisines—for its mesmerizing aroma that fills the dining space, and as a taste enhancer.

Its health benefits…

Digestion booster

Asafoetida is the most recommended way to neutralize indigestion, acidity, bloating, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. It not only improves digestion but also eliminates gas formation in the stomach.

Asafoetida is healthy alternative that provides a flavor similar to onions and garlic which contain high amounts of fructans—indigestible, fermentable carbs—that can cause gastrointestinal distress linked to IBS.

The activity of digestive enzymes is enhanced by asafoetida which thereby helps boost digestion, especially the release of bile from the liver, which is required for the digestion of fat.

Blood pressure regulator

Coumarin, a compound found in abundance in asafoetida, treats hypertension in people and is a great ingredient in doing so, which relaxes the blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure levels.

Relieves respiratory problems

Bronchitis, asthma, cold, and cough are all effectively relieved by consuming asafoetida, thanks to its anti-inflammatory property that helps relieve respiratory problems.

Yet to be studied in humans, asafoetida has the potential to alleviate asthma by virtue of its relaxing effect on airway smooth muscles.

Immunity enhancer

The anti-bacterial properties of asafoetida improves the quality of hair and skin and also boosts immunity.

Antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial

Asafoetida may, as established by test-tube studies, help protect against potential pathogens, such as various strains of Streptococcus bacteria.

Blood sugar regulator—Yet to be studied in humans, it potentially reduces fasting blood sugar levels.

Brain health protector—Helps protect against memory loss and nerve damage in the brain.

Cancer Inhibitor

Exhibits potential in retarding the growth and spread of certain cancer cells—as established by animal and test-tube studies—including breast and liver cancer.

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