• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

ASAFETIDA ( Ferula assa-foetida (L.) )
Names in Other Languages:

English Asafoetida, Stinking gum, Devil’s dung
French Asa-fœtida, Asa-fétida, Férule persique
German Asant, Stinkasant, Teufelsdreck, Asafötida
Spanish Asafétida
Italian Assafétida
Turkish Şeytantersi
Japanese アギ Agi, サフェティダAsahetida,ヒンHin

FAMILY: Apiaceae

ORIGIN:   It is native to Central Asia


Asafoetida is extracted from the Ferula plants which have massive taproots or carrot-shaped roots,12.5 to 15 cm in diameter at the crown when they are 4 to 5 years old. The upper part of the living rhizome/root is laid bare and the stem cut off close to the crown. A dome shaped structure made of twigs and earth covers the exposed surface. A milky juice exudes from the cut surface. After some days, the exudates are scraped off and a fresh slice of the root cut when more latex exudes; sometimes the resin is removed along with the slice. [1]


The milk juice which is obtained from the root, which becomes a brown, resin-like mass when dried out.


Very strong smell, rather repugnant


Dried asafetida consists mostly of a resin (25 to 60% of the total mass, 60% of which are esters of ferula acid) and a complex carbohydrate part (25 to 30%). The essential oil (10%) contains a wealth of sulfur compounds, mainly (R)-2-butyl-1-propenyl disulphide (50%), 1-(1-methylthiopropyl) 1-propenyl disulphide and 2-butyl-3-methylthioallyl disulphide. Furthermore, di-2-butyl trisulphide, 2-butyl methyl trisulphide, di-2-butyl disulphide and even di-2-butyl tetrasulphide have been found. The essential oil contains also some terpenes (α-pinene, phellandrenes) and hendecylsulphonyl acetic acid. Ethers of sesquiterpenes with coumarins have also been identified (farnesiferoles).[2]

Asafoetida contains resin:40 to 64 %
Gum:about 25%
Volatile oil:10 to 17 %
Ash:1.5 to 10 %

Source: http://www.indianetzone.com/1/asafoetida.htm


Asafoetida is popular in India and used in Iranian cooking. It is used as a substitute for garlic and in other Indian cuisines it is combined with garlic or onion. Asafoetida is an essential ingredient in the preparation of legumes and pulses in a variety of dishes collectively known as dhal.

Use of asafoetida differs for the powdered form and the resin. The latter is very strongly scented and must be fried in hot oil both for flavour dispersal and to temper the taste. A pea-sized amount is considered sufficient to flavour a large pot of food. Powdered asafoetida can be added to the food without frying not to lose the aroma.


Asafoetida is also used in the treatment of respiratory disorders like whooping cough, asthma and bronchitis. The herb is an excellent medecine for hysteria. Inhalation of this gum prevents hysterical attacks The herb is also used in the treatment of impotencyIt is also considered a specific medicine for spermatorrhoea and premature ejaculation.

Nervous disorders of children are also treated with this particular herb.The herb is considered effective in treating many gynaecological problems in women such as sterility, unwanted abortion, pre-mature labor, unusually painful, difficult and excessive menstruation and leucorrhoea

Asafoetida is also beneficial for women after childbirth. Owing to its anti flatulent and digestive properties, the herb can be taken with beneficial results during the post-delivery period

Stomach disorders are also effectively cured by this herb. It is one of the best remedies available for flatulence and most digestive powders contain generous amount of asafoetida in them.

In case of flatulence and distension of the stomach, asafoetida should be dissolved in hot water and a pad of cloth steeped in it may be used for compressing the abdomen.

Asafoetida is also used for relieving toothache. After being pestled in lemon juice, it is slightly heated. A cotton piece, soaked in the lotion and placed in the cavity of the tooth, relieves pain quickly[1]


[1] http://www.indianetzone.com/1/asafoetida.htm
[2] http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Feru_ass.html