Botanically it is known as Ferula narthex Boisa. It is a gum-resin relished as a condiment in India and Iran where it is used to flavour curries, meatballs, dal and pickles. It has been used in Europe and the U.S. in perfumes and for flavouring. Acrid in taste, it emits a strong onion-like odour because of its organic sulphur compounds.
The whole plant is used as a fresh vegetable, the inner portion of the full grown stem being regarded as a luxury. The plant may grow as high as 7 ft. (2 metres). After 4 years, when it is ready to yield asafoetida, the stems are cut down close to the root and a milky juice flows out that quickly sets into a solid resinous mass. A freshly exposed surface of asafoetida has a translucent pearly white appearance, but it soon darkens in the air, becoming first pink and finally reddish brown.
The gum that exudes from the rootstock is commercially known as asafoetida; the raw gum is nauseous and so the fried gum is used for medicinal purposes. It is digestive, nervine, stimulant and expectorant. It is commonly used in flatulence, colic, dyspepsia, asthma, hysteria, convulsions, chronic bronchitis, cough and cold disorders of the bowels, epilepsy and angina pectoris. It should not be taken by a pregnant woman as it is a strong abortifacient.
Benefit and uses of Asafoetida.
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