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Super Spice Spotlight: 7 Benefits of Using Asafoetida or “Hing”

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Photo Credit: s_batavia/Thinkstock

Asafoetida or “hing” is one of the most overlooked spices in western culture. One of my crazy theories is that the avoidance of this ‘resin’ herb is due to its moniker – “devil’s sweat” (and that’s one of its nicer nicknames). That nickname was awarded due to the smell of the plant, but honestly it’s not bad, especially after being cooked. And in that same breath, it’s also affectionately called the “food of the gods,” which, in my opinion, makes it worth looking into.

Hing is used in a vast array of cuisines. In fact, chances are you’ve tasted and enjoyed asafoetida immensely. It’s considered a bitter, pungent and heating herb and primarily used in Indian dahl (lentils), (tarka) to make a certain type of pickle and vegetable curries.

More important than the taste, though, are the many health benefits of hing, let me turn you on to a few of them.

Digestive support. Hing is great for indigestion and has been used for eons as a remedy for a variety of stomach problems including upset stomach, intestinal worms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and intestinal gas and flatulence. It’s also anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants.

Women’s health. Hing is said to provide relief for menstrual cramps due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also prescribed for a host of women’s issues such as irregular menstrual cycles, dysmenorrhea, vaginal yeast, and candida infections.

Male Health. Asafoetida is somewhat of a natural Viagra of sorts. It’s used for impotency, spermatorrhoea, and premature ejaculation. Moreover, it enhances blood flow (wink, wink) and increases male libido.

Respiratory Health. Whether it’s a cough, bronchitis, or asthma that you’re suffering from, hing can help. Traditional Chinese Medicine categorizes Hing as entering the liver, spleen and stomach channels, stimulating the intestinal, respiratory and the nervous system. It has a reputation for being a potent respiratory stimulant and expectorant, battling phlegm and relieving chest congestion effectively.

Diabetes and Blood-Sugar Balance. This special resin is great for diabetics and anyone wanting to maintain a healthy blood-sugar balance. It actually encourages the pancreas to secrete insulin (decreases blood sugar levels).

High Blood Pressure. Coumarins are a special compound found in hing, that  is a natural blood thinner and also promotes proper blood flow throughout the body (preventing clotting). Furthermore, it lowers cholesterol levels and triglycerides which may decrease the risk of hypertension.

Pain relief. There are a few types of pain that Asafoetida works for – menstrual cramps, toothaches, headaches and migraines are a few painful issues that hing can help with relieving.

Anticarcinogenic. As hing is known to be a powerful antioxidant, protecting the body from free-radicals and encouraging healthy cells. Also, the compounds in hing battle cancer by hindering the growth of malignant cells.

Asafoetida just might live up to both of its nicknames, but with all the health benefits of this super spice, you can be sure it will make its way into my next vegetable curry and Dahl.

Have you ever experienced or tasted asafoetida? What did you notice?
 


Bess O'Connor

Bess O’Connor, a certified Ayurvedic and Holistic Health Practitioner, explores the heart of health at the core of alternative medicine, massage therapy, conscious movement, nutrition, meditation and other healing traditions.


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