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Updated 18 February 2013

Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida)

Asafoetida, or asafetida (Ferula assafoetida), is a plant native to Iran that has a strong sulfurous smell. The sap of the stem and roots is dried and crushed to form an onion-tasting powder that is frequently used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Jains (followers of the Jain religion, an ancient faith based on the teachings of the prince Mahavira, 599 - 527 BC) also use it as a substitute for onions.

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RELATED TERMS

Asafetida, Ferula assafoetida, Ferula assa-foetida, Ferula assa foetida, Ferula foetida, Ferula rubricaulis.

BACKGROUND

Asafoetida, or asafetida (Ferula assafoetida), is a plant native to Iran that has a strong sulfurous smell. The sap of the stem and roots is dried and crushed to form an onion-tasting powder that is frequently used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Jains (followers of the Jain religion, an ancient faith based on the teachings of the prince Mahavira, 599 - 527 BC) also use it as a substitute for onions.

There is currently little information available on the pharmacology and medicinal uses of asafoetida. Limited animal research suggests that asafetida may increase the calcium and zinc content in bone after exposure to radiation. However, there is currently insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of asafoetida for any indication.

EVIDENCE TABLE

Conditions

Uses
disclaimer: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Grade*

*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

TRADITION

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, cancer, colon inflammation, digestion, food uses, high blood pressure, insecticide, osteoporosis, radiation protection.

DOSING

disclaimer: The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for asafoetida.

Children (under 18 years old)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for asafoetida.

SAFETY

disclaimer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with known allergies or sensitivity to asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida), its constituents, or members of the Apiaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

Limited information is available on the potential adverse effects of asafoetida. Asafoetida is likely safe when used in amounts consumed in foods.

In laboratory research, an asafoetida extract was toxic to various types of cells, including ovary cells, lymphocytes (white blood cells), and Vero cells. The extract also inhibited thymidine uptake into DNA.

Asafoetida may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or in those taking agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Asafoetida has traditionally been used as an abortifacient.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Asafoetida is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. In laboratory research, an asafoetida extract was toxic to various types of cells, including ovary cells, lymphocytes (white blood cells), and Vero cells. The extract also inhibited the thymidine uptake into DNA. Asafoetida has traditionally been used as an abortifacient.

INTERACTIONS

disclaimer: Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

Asafoetida may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin©) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix©), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin©, Advil©) or naproxen (Naprosyn©, Aleve©).

Asafoetida may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

Asafoetida may reduce inflammation.

Asafoetida may kill cancer cells. It also inhibited the thymidine uptake into DNA.

Ferula asafoetida gum extract may have antispasmodic effects.

Asafoetida may increase bone calcium after radiation.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Asafoetida may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

Asafoetida may reduce inflammation.

Asafoetida may kill cancer cells. It also inhibited the thymidine uptake into DNA.

Ferula asafoetida gum extract may have antispasmodic effects.

Asafoetida may increase bone calcium and zinc content after radiation.

Asafoetida may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.

ATTRIBUTION

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

  • Abd El-Razek, MH, Ohta, S, Ahmed, AA, et al. Sesquiterpene coumarins from the roots of Ferula assa-foetida. Phytochemistry 2001;58(8):1289-1295. View abstract
  • Appendino, G, Maxia, L, Bascope, M, et al. A meroterpenoid NF-kappaB inhibitor and drimane sesquiterpenoids from Asafetida. J Nat Prod 2006;69(7):1101-1104. View abstract
  • Carrubba, RW. The first report of the harvesting of Asafetida in Iran. Agric Hist 1979;53(2):451-461. View abstract
  • Duan, H, Takaishi, Y, Tori, M, et al. Polysulfide derivatives from Ferula foetida. J Nat Prod 2002;65(11):1667-1669. View abstract
  • Fatehi, M, Farifteh, F, and Fatehi-Hassanabad, Z. Antispasmodic and hypotensive effects of Ferula asafoetida gum extract. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;91(2-3):321-324. View abstract
  • Harve, G and Kamath, V. Larvicidal activity of plant extracts used alone and in combination with known synthetic larvicidal agents against Aedes aegypti. Indian J Exp Biol 2004;42(12):1216-1219. View abstract
  • Ren, D, Yang, W, and Zeng, G. [Effects of microwave radiation on the content of five elements in mice bone tissue]. Wei Sheng Yan.Jiu 2001;30(4):201-202. View abstract
  • Singh, UP, Singh, DP, Maurya, S, et al. Investigation on the phenolics of some spices having pharmacotherapeuthic properties. J Herb Pharmacother 2004;4(4):27-42. View abstract
  • Uma, Pradeep K, Geervani, P, et al. Common Indian spices: nutrient composition, consumption and contribution to dietary value. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1993;44(2):137-148. View abstract
  • Unnikrishnan, MC and Kuttan, R. Cytotoxicity of extracts of spices to cultured cells. Nutr Cancer 1988;11(4):251-257. View abstract
disclaimer: Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions. disclaimer: While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy. disclaimer: The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)



Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
 
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