The Ferula communis is a perennial plant from the family of Umbelliferae. It is most commonly found growing in European regions, particularly in South India. This flowering plant grows up to 4 meters high, and best resembles a giant fennel. The Ferula plant can be used in many ways, whether it be as a spice in the kitchen to using the stems in furniture making, however it is best known for being used as the medicinal herb, Ferula assa-foetida.
The oil which is extracted from the gum is obtained by the roots of the Ferula plant and is used in different countries for various purposes. It has a very pungent aroma and flavor, much like garlic, and has a bitter taste. It has been used as a culinary spice, digestive aid and condiment in many cultures. Assa-foetida powder, which is made from the resin of the plant’s root, is commonly used in Indian cooking mainly for the preparation of beans and lentils.
The herb, assa-foetida which comes from this plant is best known for it’s medicinal properties. It is anti-fungal, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. It can be used as an expectorant, laxative, and a sedative. Asafoetida works mainly on the digestive system in which it cleanses and strengthens the gastro-intestinal tract, and aids in the treatment of digestive issues such as gas, bloating, indigestion and constipation.
Asafoetida’s antimicrobial properties help to fight against intestinal parasites such as roundworm and pinworms. It can also be used for treatment of respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough, as well as stimulate the circulatory system by lowering blood pressure. It also demonstrates anti-acetylcholinesterase activity which helps enhance memory, learning ability and to control certain types of seizures.
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Due to it’s unpleasant taste it is most commonly taken in capsule form, however it is also used topically. In Thailand and India it can help to aid digestion by smearing it on the abdomen in an alcohol or water tincture. For children’s colds it is mixed into a pungent-smelling paste and placed in a bag on the child’s neck.
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About the author:
Guest contributor Fallon Clark is a Certified Nurse Assistant, health and fitness writer and at-home chef. She is the owner of My Gluten Free Quest where she documents the struggles of living with celiac disease and getting healthy, along with healthy recipes, fitness, natural remedies, specific diets & more. Fallon prefers to cook with locally organic grown produce which she uses to prepare a myriad of gluten-free foods, ranging from raw, vegan & cooked dishes.