Asafoetida is a gum exuded from the taproot of the Ferula herb which grows in Kashmir. In Sanskrit it is called Hingu, in Sinhalese Perumkayam. It is also imported from Iran and Afghanistan. Asafoetida though acrid and bitter in taste is extensively used for flavoring curries and pickles.
Asafoetida is a carminative and a stimulant which helps digestion; asafoetida also acts as a sedative and a diuretic. It is commonly used in indigenous medicine for dyspepsia, flatulence, colic and diseases of the nervous system. It is also an ingredient in several medicinal oils.
Asafoetida gives relief in cases of asthma, hysteria, whooping cough. In spasmodic disorders of the bowels it is used as a suppository in constipation, or for lack of tension or muscular power of the bowel and also in partial paralysis. Recent studies have shown that it has more sedative properties and is used in diseases of the heart. In Sri Lanka in ancient times it was used as a disinfectant and was tied on the hand specially of infants.
There is a famous Ayurvedic Chumanamed "Hingusgrashtaka". This is composed of Asafoetida, ginger, long pepper, omum or asamodagam, cummin seeds and rock salt. Take equal parts, reduce to powder and mix well. Dose: 20 grams to be taken with the first mouthful of rice with butter at breakfast. This is administered to produce an appetite and increase the digestive powers and cure flatulence. It may be taken with lime juice in the form of a pill.