Asafoetida: Considered as a Repugnant Spice but has Potent Health Benefits

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Asafoetida, also spelled Asafetida, is a plant native to the deserts of Iran, mountains of Afghanistan, and is mainly cultivated in nearby India.  It is used as a spice in many dishes in these regions of the world.  The raw root is also used in cooking methods.

Asafetida-plant

Asafoetida plant

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 resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols ‘A’ and ‘B’, ferulic acid, umbelliferone and four unidentified compounds.  1

The essential oil (10%) contains a wealth of sulfur compounds, mainly:

  • (R)-2-butyl-1-propenyl disulphide (50%)
  • 1-(1-methylthiopropyl) 1-propenyl disulphide
  • 2-butyl-3-methylthioallyl disulphide

The essential oils also contain:

  • terpenes (α-pinene, phell­andrenes)
  • sesqui­terpenes with coumarines
  • hendecyl­sulphonyl acetic acid

Other compounds include:

  • di-2-butyl trisulphide
  • 2-butyl methyl trisulphide
  • di-2-butyl disulphide
  • di-2-butyl tetrasulphide 

The Table below lists the recognized and researched studies on the health benefits of Asafoetida:

Health Benefits of Asafotida

Asafoetida   
BiosystemConditionBenefitReference
Cardiovascular
Hypertension
Asafoetida may lower Blood Pressure in Hypertension patients1
Immunity
Cancer
Asafoetida may inhibit various forms of cancers2 3 4
Breast Cancer
Asafetida may help to prevent Breast cancer5
Influenza
Asafetida may help to prevent Influenza. Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic6
Glutathione
Asafetida may increase the activity of Glutathione-S-Transferase7
Microorganisms
AntimicrobialAsafoetida has a broad range of uses as an antimicrobial8
Neurological
Memory
Asafetida may improve Memory (due to the Azerin content of Asafetida)9 10


Resources:

Savory Spice Shop – Asafetida

Nature’s Answer – Asafetida Oleo-Gum-Resin Extract


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