Ferula assafoetida

2011

Common Names

Pakistan Anjadana Bangladesh Hing
England Asafetida India Hing
Croatia Asafetida India Hingu
Finland Asafetida India Ingu
Germany Asafetida India Inguva
Guyana Asafetida Afghanistan Kama I anguza
Iceland Asafetida Pakistan Kama I anguza
Lithuania Asafetida India Kayam
Netherlands Asafetida Laos Ma ha hing
Poland Asafetida France Merde du diable
Russia Asafetida Mozambique Mvuje
Spain Asafetida Tanzania Mvuje
Sweden Asafetida Zaire Mvuje
United States Asafetida Hungary Ordoggyoker
France Asafetide India Perungayam
Estonia Asafootida India Perunkaya
Germany Asafotida Sri Lanka Perunkayan
Germany Asant Finland Pirunpaska
France Assa Foetida Finland Pirunpihka
Italy Assafetida India Raamathan
China A-wei Iran Rechina fena
Greece Aza Netherlands Sagapeen
United States Devil’s dung Turkey Setan bokosu
Iceland Djoflatao Turkey Seytan tersi
Latvia Driveldrikis Myanmar Sheingho
Netherlands Duivelsdrek Tibet Shing-kun
Denmark Dyvelsdrak Germany Stinkasant
Norway Dyvelsdrekk United States Stinking gum
Sweden Dyvelstrack Germany Teufelsdreck
France Ferule persique Latvia Velna suds
Netherlands Godenvoedsel Poland Zapaliczka cuchnaca
Finland Hajupihka Iran Zaz
India Hengu

 

Botanical Description

Ferula assafoetida is an herbaceous, monoecious, perennial plant of the UMBEL-LIFERAE family. It grows to 2 m high with a circular mass of leaves. Flowering stems are 2.5-3 m high and 10 cm thick, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Compound large umbels arise from large sheaths. Flowers are pale greenish yellow. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. It yields a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.

Origin And Distribution

Asafoetida is native to central Asia, eastern Iran to Afghanistan, where it grows from 600 to 1200 m above the sea level. Although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages. Today it is grown chiefly in Iran and Afghanistan, from where it is exported to the rest of the world.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

Afghanistan. Hot water extract of the dried gum is taken orally for hysteria and whooping cough and to treat ulcers.

Brazil. Hot water extract of the dried leaf and stem is taken orally by males as an aphrodisiac. Extract is taken orally as nerve and general tonics. Oleoresin powder, crushed with the fingertips, is used as a condiment.

China. Decoction of the plant is taken orally as a vermifuge.

Egypt. Dried gum is applied vaginally as a contraceptive before or after coitus. Fifty-two percent of the women interviewed practiced this method, and 48% of them depended on indigenous methods and/or prolonged lactation. Hot water extract of the dried root is taken orally as an antispasmodic, a diuretic, a vermifuge, and an analgesic.

Fiji. Paste made from the dried resin is applied to the chest for whooping cough. Fried Ferula is taken with Allium sativum and sugar to cleanse the new mother. Fried Ferula, Piper nigrum, and Cinnamonum camphora is taken orally for headache and toothache. Hot water extract of the dried resin is taken orally for upset stomach.

India. Extract of dried Ferula assafoetida with Brassica alba and rock salt is diluted with vinegar and taken orally as an abortifacient. Hot water extract of the dried gum is taken orally as a carminative, an antispasmodic, and an expectorant in chronic bronchitis. Mixed with cayenne pepper and sweet flag, it is used as a remedy for cholera. Exudate of the dried gum resin is eaten to prevent guinea worm disease. Gum resin with salt and the bark juice of Moringa pterygosperma is used externally for stomachaches. A dry Lampyris noctiluca without head is mixed with 200-300 mg of Ferula and taken mornings and evenings for gallstones and kidney stones. For old stones, potassium nitrate is added to the mixture. Hot water extract of the dried resin is taken orally as an emmena-gogue.

Malaysia. Gum is chewed by females for amenorrhea.

Morocco. Gum is chewed as an antiepi-leptic.

Nepal. Water extract of the resin is taken orally as an anthelmintic.

Saudi Arabia. Dried gum is used medicinally for whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis.

United States. Fluid extract of the resin is taken orally as an emmenagogue, a stimulating expectorant, an anthelmintic, an aphrodisiac, and a stimulant to the brain and nerves. It is claimed to be a powerful antispasmodic.

Pharmacological Activities And Clinical Trials

Allergenic activity. Oleoresin powder, administered externally to adults, was active. Reactions to patch test occurred most commonly in patients who were regularly exposed to the substance, or who already had dermatitis on the fingertips. Previously unexposed patients had few reactions (i.e., no irritant reactions).

Antibacterial activity. Dried gum resin, on agar plate, was active on Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium sporogenes.

Anticarcinogenic activity. Dried resin, administered orally to Sprague-Dawley rats at doses of 1.25 and 2.5% w/w of the diet, produced a significant reduction in the multiplicity and size of palpable N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mammary tumors, and a delay in mean latency period of tumor appearance. Oral administration to mice increased the percentage of life span by 52.9%. Intraperitoneal administration did not produce any significant reduction in tumor growth. The extract also inhibited a two-stage chemical carcinogenesis induced by 7,12-dimethylbenzathracene and croton oil on mice skin with significant reduction in papilloma formation.

Anticholesterolemic activity. Resin, administered to rats fed an atherogenic diet, at a dose of 1.5%, failed to reduce the serum cholesterol levels.

Anticoagulant activity. Water extract of the gum, administered intravenously to dogs and rats at variable doses, was active.

Antifertility effect. A mixture of Embella ribes fruit, Piper longum fruit, borax, Ferula dried gum, Piper betle, and Abrus precatorius, administered orally to female adults at a dose of 0.28 g/person starting from the second day of menstruation twice daily for 20 days, without sexual intercourse during the dosing period, produced the effect for 4 months. The biological activity reported has been patented. Gum, administered by gastric intubation to male mice at a dose of 5 mg/kg for 32 days, was active. Methanol extract of the resin, administered orally to Sprague-Dawley rats at a dose of 400 mg/kg daily for 10 days, prevented pregnancy in 80% of the rats. When administered as a polyvinylpyrrolidone 1:2 complex, 100% pregnancy inhibition was observed at this dose. Lower doses of the extract produced a marked reduction in the mean number of implantations. Significant activity was observed in the hexane and chloroform eluents of sulfur-containing extract in an immature rat bioassay, the methanol extract was devoid of any estrogenic activity.

Antifungal activity. Ethanol (95%) extract of the dried gum on agar plate was active. Essential oil of rhizome, on agar plate at a concentration of 400 ppm, was active on Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton rubrum, and produced weak activity on Trichophyton equinum. Extract of asafetida, on agar plate at concentrations of 5-10 mg/ mL, inhibited Aspergillus parasiticus afla-toxin production.

Antihepatotoxic activity. A mixture of the methanol-insoluble fraction of the dried resin, fresh garlic, curcumin, ellagic acid, butylated hydroxytoluene, and butylated hydroxyanisole, administered by gastric intubation to ducklings at a dose of 10 mg/ani-mal, was active vs aflatoxin Bl-induced hepatotoxicity.

Antihypercholesterolemic activity. Gum, administered to female rats at a concentration of 1% of diet, was inactive. A hot mixture of Nigella sativa, Commiphora myrrha, Ferula assafoetida, Aloe vera, and Boswellia serrata, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 0.5 g/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia.

Antihyperglycemic activity. Hot water extract of the dried gum, Nigella sativa, Myrrhis odorata, and Aloe sp. in equal parts, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 10 mL/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia. Results were significant at p < 0.05 level. Hot water extract of the dried gum, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 10 mL/kg for 7 days, was inactive. A hot mixture of Nigella sativa, Commiphora myrrha, Ferula assafoetida, Aloe vera, and Boswellia serrata, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 0.5 g/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia.

Antihypertensive effect. Water extract of the dried gum resin, administered intravenously to dogs at variable doses, was active.

Anti-implantation effect. A powdered mixture of Ferula assafoetida, Piper longum, Embellaribes, and borax, administered orally to female adults, was active. Biological activity reported has been patented.

Anti-inflammatory effect. Ethanol (95%) extract of the resin, administered orally to two groups of 50 patients with irritable colon, was active. Results were significant at p< 0.001 level.

Antimutagenic activity. Water extract of the dried gum, on agar plate at a concentration of 2 mg/plate, was inactive on Salmonella typhimurium TA100 vs aflatoxin Bl-induced mutagenesis and a concentration of 10 mg/plate, was inactive on Salmonella typhimurium TA98. Asafoetida, on agar plate at a dose of 0.5 μg/plate was active on Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 vs aflatoxin Bl-induced muta-genesis. Asafoetida, on agar plate, was active on Salmonella typhimurium TA100 and TA1535 microsomal activation-dependent mutagenicity of 2-acetamidofluorene.

Antioxidant activity. Asafetida, administered orally to Sprague-Dawley rats at doses of 1.25% and 2.5% w/w, significantly restored the level of antioxidant system, depleted by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea treatment. There was a significant inhibition in lipid peroxidation as measured by thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances in the liver ofrats.

Antiparasitic activity. Oleo-gum resin from roots and stems was active on Trichomonas vaginalis.

Antispasmodic activity. Gum extract, administered to isolated guinea pig ileum at a dose of 3 mg/mL, produced a decrease of spontaneous contraction to 54 + 7% of control. Exposure of precontracted ileum by acetylcholine, histamine, and KC1 to Ferula gum extract produced a concentration-dependent relaxation. Preincubation with indomethacin, propanolol, atropine, and chlorpheniramine before exposure to the gum, did not produce any relaxation.

Antitumor activity. Water extract of the dried oleoresin, administered by gastric intubation to mice at a dose of 50 mg/animal daily for 5 days, was active on CA-Ehrlich ascites, 53% increase in life span (ILS). Water extract administered intra-peritoneally was inactive on Dalton’s lymphoma, 4.8% ILS, and CA-Ehrlich ascites, 5.5% ILS.

Antiulcerogenic activity. Colloidal solution, administered orally to rats at a dose of 50 mg/kg, 60 minutes before experiment, produced significant protection against gastric ulcers induced by 2 hours cold restraint stress, aspirin, and 4 hours pylorus ligation.

Apoptosis effect. Sodium ferulate, administered to human lymphocytes cell culture, induced apoptosis.

Carcinogenesis inhibition. Gum, administered to mice at a dose of 40 mg/g of diet, was active. The dose was inactive vs 3′-methyl-4-dimethylaminoazobenzene- induced carcinogenesis.

Cardiac depressant activity. Tincture of the gland, administered by perfusion to rabbits, produced weak activity on the heart.

Chemomodulatory influence. Asafetida, administered orally to Sprague-Dawley rats at doses of 1.25% and 2.5% w/w in diet, produced an increase in the development and differentiation of ducts/ductules and lobules and a decrease in terminal end buds as compared to both normal and N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-treated control animals. Asafetida treatment significantly reduced the levels of cytochrome P450 and b5. There was an enhancement in the activities of glutathione-S-transferase, deoxythymidine-diaphorase, superoxide desmutase, catalase, and reduced glutathione.

Central nervous (CNS) effects. Ethanol extract of the dried gum, administered orally to adults at a dose of 20 mL/person, was active.

Cytotoxic activity. Ethanol (90%) extract of the dried plant, in cell culture administered at a concentration 0.25 mg/mL, was active on human lymphocytes. The extract was active on Vero cells, effective dose (ED50 0.15 mg/mL; Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, ED50 0.575 mg/mL; and Dalton’s lymphoma, ED50 0.6 mg/mL. Water extract of the dried gum, in cell culture at a concentration of 500 μg/mL, produced weak activity on CA-mammary-microalveolar cells.

Digestive enzyme inhibition. Asafoetida, administered orally to rats at a dose of 2500 mg% for 8 weeks, decreased the levels of phosphatases and sucrase in the small intestine.

DNA synthesis inhibition. Ethanol (90%) extract of the dried entire plant at a concentration of 0.25 mg/mL, was active.

Fibrinolytic activity. Ether extracts of the dried gum and gum resin, administered orally to 10 healthy subjects fed 100 g of butter to produce alimentary hyperlipemia, were active.

Gastric mucosal exfoliant activity. Powder of the dried entire plant, administered by gastric intubation to adults at a dose of 0.2 g for 1 hour, was active.

Hepatic mixed function oxidase inhibition. Oleoresin, administered to rats at a dose of 250 mg%, was active.

Hypocholesterolemic activity. A hot mixture of Nigella sativa, Commiphora myrrha, Ferula assafoetida, Aloe vera, and Boswellia serrata, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 0.5 g/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia.

Hypoglycemic activity. Hot water extract of the dried gum, Nigella sativa, Myrrhis odorata, and Aloe sp. in equal parts, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 10 mL/kg for 7 days, was active. Results were significant at p < 0.001 level. Hot water extract of the dried gum, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 10 mL/kg for 7 days, was inactive. A hot mixture of Nigella sativa, Commiphora myrrha, Ferula assafoetida, Aloe vera, and Boswellia serrata, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 0.5 g/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia.

Hypolipemic activity. A hot mixture of Nigella sativa, Commiphora myrrha, Ferula assafoetida, Aloe vera and Boswellia serrata, administered by gastric intubation to rats at a dose of 0.5 g/kg for 7 days, was active vs streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia.

Hypotensive activity. Tincture of the gland, administered intravenously to rabbits, was active. Water extract of the dried gum resin, administered intravenously to dogs at variable doses, was active. Gum extract, administered to anaesthetized rats at doses of 0.3-2.2 mg/100 g body weight, significantly reduced the mean arterial blood pressure.

Mutagenic activity. Ethanol (95%) extract of the dried resin, on agar plate at a concentration of 15 mg/plate, produced weak activity on streptomycin-dependent strains of Salmonella typhimurium TA98. Metabolic activation has no effect on the result. Resin, on agar plate at a concentration of 200 μg/plate, was active on Salmonella typhimurium TA1537 and inactive on Salmonella typhimurium TA1538 and Salmonella typhimurium TA98.

Olfactory status influence. Asafoetida extract, administered to allergic (group I) and nonallergic rhinitis (group II) patients at a dose of 10% aqueous solution, produced an elevation of olfactory thresholds by 55.8% in group I and 66.8% for both groups.

Pancreatic digestive enzymes effect. Asafetida, administered orally to albino rats at a dose of 250 mg% for 8 weeks, enhanced pancreatic lipase activity, stimulated pancreatic amylase and chymotrypsin. The stimulatory influence was not observed when their intake was restricted to a single oral dose.

Protein digestibility. Asafetida did not affect the digestibility of protein in sorghum.

Sister chromatid exchange stimulation. Gum, administered by gastric intubation to mice at a dose of 1 g/kg, was active. The results were significant at p less than 0.01 level. A dose of 0.5 g/kg, produced weak activity. Asafoetida, administered orally to mice, produced weak activity in spermatogonia.

Smooth muscle relaxant activity. Tincture of the gland, administered to rabbits, was active on the bladder and intestine.

Toxic effect. Gum, administered orally to adults, was active. A case of methemoglobinemia occurred in a 5-week-old male infant, after administration of asafetida preparation to alleviate colic. Treatment was with intravenous methylene blue and the infant recovered.

Tumor-promoting activity. Water extract of the dried oleoresin, administered externally to mice at a dose of 200 μL/animal, was active vs 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene and croton oil treatment.

Uterine stimulant effect. Hot water extract of the plant, administered to female rats, was inactive on estrogen of uterus. Extract administered to pregnant rats, was inactive on uterus.

Vasodilator activity. Water extract of the dried gum resin, administered to frogs, was active on the vein.