Hing (Ferula foetida) or Heeng or Asafoetida is a "wonder-spice" famous in India for its wonderful medicinal and culinary uses. This pungent spice makes our food taste spicy and tangy, and also, keeps us healthy, fit and fine! Medically, it is a sedative, expectorant and laxative and a very useful remedy for relieving spasms and ingestion, nervous disorders, cholera, whooping cough and lots of gynaecological problems. It is a stimulant for respiratory and nervous system and very effective in pneumonia and bronchitis in children.
Most of the Indian homes make use of Heeng for culinary and medicinal purposes. Indian Asofoetida, is famous for its odour, and its botanical name is Ferula narthrex. It is actually, a resin of a plant which grows in the higher ranges of Kashmir, parts of Afghanistan and Iran. Hing is bitter and pungent in taste and light, sharp, unctuous and hot in effect. While aggravating pitta, it pacifies vata and kapha. Its chemical composition consists of gum, ash and a volatile oil. Hing also contains protein, fibre and minerals which include a substantial amount of calcium and traces of iron.
Ancient texts describe it as hingu and today, Hing is popular for being a tempting spice and a trusted medicine!!
Medicinal Properties of Hing:
Hing is a drug of choice in gas trouble, distention of the abdomen and colic. As a respiratory stimulant and expectorant it is given in chronically dry cough whereas as a nervine stimulant, ayurvedic texts recommend its use in a number of ailments like hysteria, paralysis, convulsions and syncope.
Here are a few tips for gaining its medicinal benefits.
Caution: As a spice, hing is an essential ingredient in preparations like pickles, soups, vegetables and pulses. Raw hing is nauseous and unsafe. Therefore, before its medicinal and other routine uses, it should be fried in desi ghee. Hing should also be used with care in patients suffering from severe acidity, haemorrhagic disorders, piles and hypertension.
How to know if your Hing is pure or adulterated?
Nowadays, it is difficult to obtain unadulterated hing as wheat flour and gum of keekar tree are mixed into it. Spurious and adulterated hing sinks and settles if put in a glass of water whereas pure hing, without leaving sediments, slowly but completely dissolves into water, turning it into a milky liquid. Pure hing also gets burnt when put close to a flame.