The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Asafetida

Scientific Names

Asafetida

  • Ferula foetida L.
  • Ferula assa-foetida
  • Ferula asafoetida
  • Apiaceae
  • Umbelliferae
  • Umbel family

Common Names

  • A wei (Chinese name)
  • Devil’s dung
  • Ferula
  • Food of the gods
  • Hingu (Sanskrit name)

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Parts Usually Used

Juice (or resin)
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Asafetida

Asafetida is the gummy dried juice of a large Asiatic perennial plant; its large, bristly, fleshy root produces a stem from 6-10 feet high, with alternate, pinnately decompound leaves on wide, sheathing petioles. The pale greenish-yellow flowers grow at the top of the stem in clusters of compound, many-rayed umbels.
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Where Found

Found in Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Grows wild in central United States.
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Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, laxative, sedative, nervine, analgesic, anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic
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Biochemical Information

Essential oil, resin, ferulic acid, glue, sec-butyl-propenyl disulfide, farnesiferol, bassorin, sulphate of lime, carbonate of lime, oxide of iron, alumina, malate of lime
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Legends, Myths and Stories

As its name suggests, asafetida has a fetid smell and a nauseating taste; characteristics that also burdened it with the name devil’s dung. In the Middle Ages, a small piece of the gum was worn around the neck to ward off disease. Whatever effectiveness it had was probably due to the antisocial properties of the amulet rather than any medicinal virtue.

Surprisingly, in Persia asafetida was used as a condiment and called the “food of the gods”.

This herb is the major component in the famous Ayurvedic herbal formula Hingashtak, Sanskrit name is hing.

Asafetida is also derived from another species of ferula (F. assa-foetida) which grows in Iran and West Afghanistan.

In Persia this herb is so highly esteemed as a condiment, it is mixed with almost all their dishes. French gastronomers rub a little asafetida on hot plates from which they eat beef steaks. The distinctive flavor of Worcestershire sauce is obtained by the addition of this gum. When used with discretion, it adds character to curries, stews, gravies, etc.

Skillful manipulation has made asafetida a useful ingredient in fine perfumes. It is still regarded a valuable medicinal in Europe, Near and Far East. As a condiment, it is recommended only to the hearty and the brave.
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Formulas or Dosages

In June the roots of 4-year-old plants which have not flowered, are cut to collect the milky juice. This dries to a brownish, gummy substance which is divided into lumps or powdered. Put in an air-tight jar or the kitchen will reek the sulphurous odor.

Powder: because of its nauseating taste, it is usually taken in pills.
Tincture: a dose is 1/2 to 1 tsp.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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