Asafoetida, popularly known as hing, has its unique place in Indian cuisine. When cooked with other spices, the strong pungent smell of hing adds a mysterious flavour to dishes. It is used most commonly in dals (lentils), sambars and various other spicy vegetarian dishes. It is also a common ingredient for seasoning (tarka) and in pickles. But this herb also has medicinal properties. It is known to be anti flatulent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, laxative, nerve stimulant, expectorant and sedative. Here are the few health benefits of hing.
Indigestion- Hing has been used since ancient times as a home remedy for indigestion, the reason why it is routinely used in most day to day Indian cuisine. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties help alleviate digestion problems like upset stomach, intestinal gas, intestinal worms, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), etc. Drinking a few small pieces of asafoetida dissolved in half a cup of water gives quick relief from indigestion. Hing is an excellent laxative and prevents constipation. A pinch of asafoetida taken with butter milk provides quick relief from flatulence. It is also considered an excellent remedy for colic in babies. Many Ayurvedic preparations available in the market for gastric problems use hing as an ingredient.
Menstrual Problem: Hing can be a powerful against a host of women’s menstrual problems like pain, cramps, irregular periods and dysmenorrhoea. The herb is also useful in the treatment of candida infection and leucorrhoea (thick white/yellow coloured discharge from the vagina).
Impotency: This culinary herb has been used to cure impotency in men. It is also known to increase libido and can be used as an aphrodisiac.
Respiratory Disorders: Hing, one of the oldest remedies to be used for treating respiratory tract infections, acts as a respiratory stimulant and expectorant to release phlegm and relieve chest congestion. Hing mixed with honey and ginger is used for respiratory disorders such as chronically dry cough, whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, etc. It has also been successfully used to fight influenza. Studies have shown that antiviral drug compounds produced by the roots of the hing plant can kill H1N1, the swine flu virus and can be used for new drug development against the virus.
Diabetes: Hing is used in the treatment of diabetes because it helps pancreatic cells to secrete more insulin thereby decreasing blood sugar levels. To lower blood sugar levels, eat bitter gourd cooked with hing.
High blood pressure: Coumarins present in the herb aid in thinning of blood and prevent blood clotting. The anticoagulant property along with the healing effect of hing protects against high triglycerides and cholesterol and helps lower blood pressure.
Nerve disorders: The condiment stimulates nerve. Hence it is recommended for hysteria, convulsions, syncope and other neurological disorders.
Pain: Taking hing dissolved in water alleviates migraines and headaches. A piece of hing mixed with lemon juice can work wonders for an aching tooth.
Antidote for Opium: Hing counters the effect of opium. Hence, it is used as an opium antidote.
Cancer: Hing is a powerful anti-oxidant and protects the body cells from free radicals. According to studies, the anti-carcinogenic property of hing stops the growth of malignant cells.
Skin ailments: Many skin care products use hing’s medicinal properties for effective skin treatment. It can also be applied directly to the skin for corns and calluses.
Photo sources: www.satvikshop.com, www.buzzle.com, www.21food.com