Asafoetida Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
Asafoetida is a plant, which tastes bitter and has bad smell. That’ why it is nicknamed as “devil’s dung.” But not many are aware of its wonderful health benefits. From treating diabetes to helping your reproductive system and keeping your digestive system healthy, the asafoetida oil benefits are incredible.
So, let’s understand about this essential oil deeper.
What Is Asafoetida Oil?
Asafoetida essential oil is extracted from the resin or gum of the asafoetida plant. It has been used for thousands of years and has great number of medicinal benefits. It has a strong, sulfurous and tenacious odor.
Asafoetida is said to be good for stomach health. It is traditionally used for the treatment of several diseases, such as asthma, ulcer, epilepsy, bronchitis, weak digestion, and influenza. It is an amazing anti-acidic home remedy. (1)
About the plant:
Asafoetida (or hing) is considered as a native of Iran and Afghanistan. The plant grows to a height of 2 meters and is bitter. The plant has carrot-shaped roots, which are about 15 cm in diameter at the crown. These crowns are 4-5 years old.
Before flowering, the upper part of living rhizome roots is laid bare and cut off near the crown. The dome-shaped structure is formed and is made up of twigs. The exposed area of the roots is beneath the earth.
A few common names of asafoetida include:
- Hing (in Bangladesh & Northern India)
- A-Wei (in China)
- Dyvelsdrak (in Denmark)
- Asafoetida (in England)
- Hajupihka (in Finland)
- Perunkayan (in Sri Lanka),
- Shing-kun (in Tibet)
Scientific Name Of Asafoetida Oil
The botanical name of asafoetida is Ferula asafoetida.
History Of Asafoetida Oil
Earlier, asafoetida was found in Iran and in the Mediterranean regions. The plant emerged in Europe by the efforts of Alexander the Great. He thought it to be a new plant identical to silphium of cyanine in North America.
Discoides mentioned it in the first century stating that it tastes different but has a very healthy aroma. It can be a substitute for silphium while cooking.
Later, silphium vanished out and asafoetida became more popular in the kitchen and among the physicians.
Asafoetida also has its mention in the Jewish literature. It has been instructed in Mishnah that, warm foods must be taken in the rainy season, but the use of mustard & asafoetida must be controlled.
It has also been described by many Arabic scientists to improve weak digestion, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
In the 16th century, the use of asafoetida is mentioned in the Roman Empire. Though they directed not to use it due to its strong smell, the statement was later overlooked by Garcia de Orta by referring its broad use (in cooking and medicines) by Hindus in India. It was also used as a part of exorcism ritual by Italian renaissance.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Asafoetida Oil
- The color of asafoetida oil is light to dark yellow.
- The consistency of asafoetida oil is thin.
- The smell of asafoetida oil is strong and sulfurous.
Properties Of Asafoetida Essential Oil
- Antioxidant – Scavenges the free radicals
- Antimicrobial – Fights against microbes
- Anti-viral – Highly effective against virus
- Antifungal – Destroys the fungal colony
- Chemopreventive – Prevents cancer
- Anti-diabetic – Fight against diabetes
- Anticarcinogenesis – Stops the cells from developing cancer
- Antispasmodic – Relaxes the muscles
- Hypotensive – Lowers the blood pressure
- Relaxant – Relaxes both mind and body
- Neuroprotective – Protects the nervous system
- Molluscicidal – Useful as a pesticide in agriculture
- Antiasthmatic – Prevents respiratory problems like asthma
- Antiepileptic – Fights against epilepsy
- Hepatoprotective – Maintains a healthy liver
- Antiprotozoal – Destroys the growth of protozoans
- Antihelminthic – Destroys the helminthic growth
Chemical Compounds In Asafoetida Oil
Asafoetida is a great source of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals, but with a small amount of fiber. It consists of three main fractions: (2)
- The resin (in a big amount)
- The gum
- The essential oil (in a small amount)
The resin contains ferulic acid, esters, and terpenoids such as coumarins, sesquiterpene coumarins, etc.
The gum consists of glucose, rhamnose, galactose, 1-arabinose, glucuronic acid, polysaccharides, and glycoproteins.
The volatile fraction has a rich amount of sulfur-containing compounds, monoterpenes, and terpenoids.
Three major sulfur constituents are:
- 1-(methyl this) propyl 1-propenyl disulfide
- 2-butyl 1-propenyl disulfide
- 2-butyl 3-(methyl this)-2-propenyl disulfide.8
Health Benefits Of Asafoetida Oil
Though the asafetida oil benefits have been often talked about, the most noteworthy ones according to the latest research papers include:
- Eliminates fat or obesity
- Improves digestion
- Induces periods
- Fights against diabetes
- Works as a nervine tonic
- Effective against cancer
- Potent antimicrobial agent
- Prevents liver damage
- Treats protozoa-based infections
- Expels parasitic worms
1. Eliminates fat or obesity
Asafoetida essential oil is found effective in reducing body fat. Ferula asafoetida essential oil significantly decreases your body weight, size of epididymal adipocyte, and the abdominal fat. It also decreases the level of serum leptin. So, there are good reasons to add a pinch asafetida in your daily diet. (8)
2. Improves digestion
Asafoetida essential oil activates the role of pancreatic amylase & lipase and ensures that there is proper secretion of gastric enzymes. Lipase & amylase are enzymes that help in proper digestion of the food.
These enzymes are helpful in the digestion of lipids. Asafoetida also helps in improving weak digestion or distorted digestion. It works as an effective antacid. No wonder it is a great home remedy.
The compound ferulic acid in asafoetida helps in improving the digestion. It also works as a potent relaxant and is found effective in the treatment of constipation. (9)
3. Induces periods
Asafoetida is a strong or potent herb, which is often used as a strong abortifacient. Consuming its oil (but diluted in warm water) orally helps in raising the temperature of the uterus.
When the temperature of the uterus rise, it triggers the breakdown of corpus luteum, causing abortion in the early stage of pregnancy. It also increases the level of progesterone hormone and when there is increased progesterone levels, it leads to abortion. So, if you are expecting, it is good to avoid asafoetida. (10, 11)
4. Fights against diabetes
Asafoetida oil is also a potent anti-diabetic drug. Thanks to its compounds tannin and phenolic acid. Both are found effective in treating diabetes. It controls the insulin secretion inside the body and absorption of the sugar moieties. It can also be said asafoetida oil can be used as a remedy for diabetes type II. (12)
5. Works as a nervine tonic
Asafoetida oil works as an effective nervine tonic. It exerts a positive effect on the functions of the nervous system, particularly as neuroprotective and nerve stimulating effect. The treatment is found effective on glutamate-induced cell damage.
The resin of asafoetida increases the amplitude and has been found decreasing the latent period of the action potential of nerve compounds. It works as a neuro-stimulant. The oil is also found effective for epileptic patients. It is found helpful in boosting the memory. (13)
6. Effective against cancer
Asafoetida is found to be a potent antioxidant herb. It has the capacity to reduce free radicals. As you know, free radicals are the root cause of cell damage and can trigger the carcinogenesis in the cells.
However, you can prevent free radicals by consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants. Happily, asafoetida is one amongst them. It is also found effective against carcinogenic chemicals like 7, 12 dimethyl benzanthracene and croton oil. It helps in reversing the induced ODC activity and DNA synthesis. (14, 15)
7. Potent antimicrobial agent
Yet other great health benefit of asofoetida oil is that it works as a potent antiviral and antibacterial drug. It is a well-known herbal remedy for various fungal and bacterial infections.
It is found effective on species such as Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Aspergillus niger, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Being a potent antioxidant, it breaks down the structure of bacteria and inhibits the growth of bacterial colonies. The oil is equally effective on viral infection. It breaks the viral cell wall and prevents the growth of viral colonies. (16, 17)
8. Prevents liver damage
Asafoetida is found effective in fighting against liver disorders too. It protects the liver cells and decreases the elevated levels of serum enzymes such as glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase, glutamate pyruvate transaminase, and alkaline phosphatase.
9. Treats protozoa-based infections
Asafoetida essential oil is found effective against protozoan growth. It has been found from earlier researches that it decreases the count and viability of Blastocystis hominis.
10. Expels parasitic worms
Asafoetida essential oil is found effective in helminthic infection. It works against the infection of Fasciola gigantic if given in higher amounts. A higher dose (of 100 mg/ml) is found effective in treating helminthic infections. (18)
What Blends With Asafoetida Oil?
Asafoetida blends the best with:
How To Use Asafoetida Oil?
Like any other essential oil, even asafoetida oil is potent and should be used carefully. Dilute a few drops of asafoetida essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or sesame oil or jojoba oil. Apply it on your abdomen when you have a stomach pain. This will relieve your stomachache in a few minutes.
There aren’t much research papers backing the use of asafoetida oil on face.
Side Effects Of Asafoetida Oil
Asafoetida is one of the commonly used spices in Indian dishes. It can be applied on the nails and stomach of infants who can’t take it orally to get rid of acidity. Since no definite dose is yet known, we strongly recommend not to use if you have:
- Low blood pressure or hypotension
- Bleeding disorders
If you take asafoetida despite having hypotension, it can show adverse effect with medicines such as enalapril (Vasotec), valsartan (Diovan), captopril (Capoten), losartan (Cozaar), Amlodipine (Norvasc), furosemide (Lasix), diltiazem (Cardizem), and hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril).
It can also show severe effects in bleeding disorder if provided with drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix), aspirin, diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam etc), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn etc), heparin, dalteparin (Fragmin), and warfarin (Coumadin).
Asafoetida is considered as a safe drug and spice when taken orally. But it can be risky in early as well as later stages of pregnancy. Being hot in nature it can cause miscarriage in the first trimester and heavy bleeding even in later trimesters of the pregnancy.
People who are allergic for asafoetida have swelling of lips, burning sensation, diarrhea, gastric trouble, convulsion, bleeding disorders, and other adverse effects.
It must not be given to infant orally, as this can cause bleeding disorders. It can even increase the risk of bleeding in adults. For epileptic patients, if given in excess amounts, it can cause seizures.
Although asafoetida is good for the digestive system, it can cause infection in the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract. People suffering from hypotension must avoid the uses of asafoetida, as it can mismanage the blood pressure control.