Asafoetida (Ferula foetida)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Asafoetida
Ferula foetida
Umbelliferae

A gum-resin is obtained from incisions in the roots and rhizomes[64]. The stem is removed at the end of the growing season, the root uncovered and a thin slice removed[74]. The gum exudes and hardens and a fresh slice is then made[74]. The gum is a source of an essential oil which has medicinal properties and is also used as a food flavouring and in perfumery[46, 61, 64].

  • Medicinal Use

    Asafoetida has long been used as a food flavouring and medicinal herb. It is still sometimes used in modern herbalism where it is especially valued in the treatment of hysteria, some nervous conditions, bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough[268]. It was at one time employed in the treatment of infantile pneumonia and flatulent colic[268].

    The gum resin is antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, laxative, sedative[4, 21]. The volatile oil in the gum is eliminated through the lungs, making this an excellent treatment for asthma[4]. The gum does have a vile taste and so it is usually taken as a pill or as a suppository[4].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves and young shoots – cooked as a vegetable[177, 183] or eaten raw[4].

    A gum-resin from the root is used as a food flavouring. It is much used in India, despite having an offensive odour[4]. It is an essential ingredient of Worcester sauce, and is also used to flavour a wide range of dishes and drinks[183]. Popular in natural food cuisine as a garlic substitute[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as the seed is ripe in a greenhouse in autumn[1]. Otherwise sow in April in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant them out into their permanent positions whilst still small because the plants dislike root disturbance[1]. Give the plants a protective mulch for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in autumn. This may be inadvisable due to the plants dislike of root disturbance.
Succeeds in most soils[1]. Requires a deep fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10¡c[200]. Plants have been grown successfully at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens[4]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance due to their long taproot[200]. They should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible.
W. Asia – Afghanistan, Iran, Turkestan.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.