Hing or asafoetida is a common ingredient in most Indian household kitchens. This pungent smelling spice is made from the latex extracted from Ferula plants – F. foetida and F. assa-foetida. It is used in dals and vegetarian recipes to enhance taste and improve digestion. Hing is also used as a traditional remedy in several ailments.
Below, we look at five health benefits of the spice:
1. Remedy for indigestion
Hing has been used for centuries as a remedy for gas, bloating and cramps in the stomach. Its carminative and antispasmodic properties relieve flatulence and stomach pain due to excess acid secretions. Its strong taste after cooking stimulates appetite by increasing saliva secretion and helps digestion. Hing also enhances the secretions of bile and other enzymes to break down food.
2. Antimicrobial activity
Studies have found evidence that hing has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. Crude extracts of asafoetida inhibited bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. Aureus). They cause diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, food poisoning, various skin diseases, infections of the bones and joints and sepsis.
3. Kidney protection
Studies on Wistar rats showed that hing extracts improve kidney function by increasing urine volume. Phenolic compounds like and flavonoids present in hing act as diuretics, which helped flush out excess creatinine and urea. Such results suggest that hing consumption may benefit kidneys in humans as well.
Research shows that hing is effective in reducing tumour in mice. Hing was also effective in reducing the spread of cancer in lungs, liver, kidneys and breasts of the test subjects and helped them gain body weight, lost due to cancer.
5. Treatment of women’s diseases
Hing is used as a traditional remedy for health issues specific to women, such as menstrual problems, labour complications, unwanted abortion and sterility. It is also given to women who have experienced childbirth to ease the digestive upsets which commonly occur after delivering a child.
Other studies have revealed the positive effects of hing on blood pressure, diabetes, and nervous ailments. These benefits make the spice an essential part of our diet.