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Hing (Asafoetida): A Wonder Ingredient In Our Daily Food


We use many spices as active ingredients during cooking and enjoy our lunch or dinner! Have you ever thought of Hing as ingredient in our cooking which has enormous medicinal activities to maintain your health?

In many regions of the world, Hing (asafoetida) is used as a flavouring agent in food and as a traditional remedy for a variety of ailments. Asafoetida is an oleo-gum-resin made from the stems of "Ferula plants" of the Umbelliferae family. Ferula plants are extensively spread in central Asia, particularly in west of Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and eastern Iran, Europe, and North Africa, with about 170 types of species. In India, asafoetida is known as Hing.

Ferula plants produce large taproots or carrot-shaped roots that are roughly 15 cm in diameter at the crown when they are 4-5 years old, and "Asafoetida" is obtained from them. The odour of asafoetida is pungent, persistent, and sulphurous. It is now a common element in Indian cuisine, owing to its odour, which is similar to that of garlic, onion, as well as meat.

Asafoetida comes in two main forms: mass form and tear form, with the mass form being the most common and widely available. The numerous chemical elements included in the "Ferula asafoetida" plant are divided into three categories: resins, gums, and essential oils. Vanillin, 3, 4-dimethoxycinnamyl-3-(3,4-diacetoxyphenyl) acrylate, picealactone C, and 7-oxocallitristic acid are among the phenolic compounds and diterpenes found in the asafoetida plant.

Medicinal properties of Hing

It has been used in traditional medicine to relieve pain and inflammation. Hing has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat digestive issues such as bloating and gas.

It has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it potentially beneficial for managing chronic pain, in the treatment of respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

Hing has also unique properties to improve menstrual symptoms and regulate menstrual cycles.

Interestingly Hing has strong  "nntimicrobial properties" which may help in preventing many infections in our physiological regulatory systems. Hing is basically used as important ingredient in many countries in cooking to successfully treat diseases like Asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, intestinal parasites, ulcer, stomach ache, epilepsy, flatulence, weak digestion, spasms and influenza!  Asafoetida may also be used in the management of a variety of issues, including unwanted pregnancy, unusual pain, sterility, difficult and excessive menstruation and leucorrhoea.

Asafoetida extract demonstrated blood sugar-lowering activity and thus can be used to lower blood sugar levels in diabetes patients due to the presence of phenolic acid and tannins in the extract.

Therefore, it is advisable to use Hing regularly in our kitchen to maintain healthy life.

In spite of so many advantages, you should keep in mind that consumption of Hing is contraindicated during pregnancy or lactation because it affects the menstrual cycle and is an abortifacient. Children below the age of 3 years should not be given Hing medication since it may cause methaemoglobinaemia.


(Dr. Bhaskar Chakraborty is Associate Professor & Head, Department of Chemistry, NBBGC, Tadong. Email:

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi