Hing or Asafoetida, also known as Hingu in Hindi, Ingu in Kannada, Inguva in Telugu, Perungayam in Tamil is an indispensable culinary ingredient common to every Indian kitchen.
Hing, often referred as ‘Food of the God’s’ or ‘Devil’s Dung’ goes by the botanical name Ferula foetida and Ferula assafoetida. It is one of the perennial herbs belonging to the Umbelliferae or Apiaceae family, that grows to the height of 1.5 to 2 mt tall.
Hing is the dried latex (i.e. gum oleoresin) that gets discharged from the tap root or rhizome or stem of Ferula assafoetida, widely cultivated in India, Pakistan, deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan.
A flowering plant with multiple schizogenous ducts in the cortex, Ferula assafoetida contains the resinous gum. Flowers of this plant are pale greenish yellow in colour, fruits are oval, flat, reddish brown filled with milky juice while roots are thick, huge and pulpy. They exude an extract similar to that of the stems.
Due to the presence of sulphur compounds, hing has a distinct pungent odor and a bitter taste.
Time and again, hing is widely mentioned in several ancient scriptures as an ingredient which is not only used for culinary purposes, especially in tadka but also for several therapeutic benefits.
Ancient texts in Afghanistan and Iran have prized hing for treating cough, cold, ulcer and menstrual problems. As the resin extract is rich in diuretic, anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties, it can be inhaled by mixing it with hot water for treating pneumonia, whopping cough and asthma.
The extract from the dried stem and leaves of this plant have an aphrodisiac effect on both men and women. In earlier times, it was one of the most common herbs prescribed for treating hysteria.
In our far western culture, hing is mentioned in several scientific journals for its medicinal properties. The root extract has potent antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds and according to various studies, scientists claim that the hing extract can be used for preventing and treating swine flu (H1N1) virus. It was also used for combatting the Spanish influenza pandemic which occurred in the year 1918.
Hing has found its way in the holistic treatments of Ayurveda and Unani medicines. Ayurveda strongly recommends hing for its positive effects on aiding in digestion. A smear of the tincture of hing is topically used to relieve abdominal pain. Traditional remedies suggest hing for treating flatulence, respiratory problems and as an effective ingredient for improving reproductive health in both men and women.
In many places, a paste of ‘hing’ is gently smeared around the chest and under the nose area so that its aroma enters the body and cures cold and flu.
Hing, one of the quintessential Indian spices have been mentioned in various home remedies. It is available both in the form of powder and whole spice in all Indian kitchens. A solution of hing or hing infused in lukewarm water drank regularly has innumerable benefits. It aids in digestion, helps in weight loss, controls diabetes and keeps respiratory problems and infections at bay.
How To Make Lemon-Hing Water At Home:
2 tbsp hing or asafoetida
1 tbsp jeera or cumin
½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 cups of water
Add water in a vessel bring it to boil.
Add the ingredients hing and jeera to it, boil for a few minutes and put off the flame.
Cool it down a bit till it’s just warm.
Add a dash of lemon and your healthy drink is ready.
Nutritious Benefit of Hing Lemon Water:
This magical drink is well known for its numerous therapeutic efficacies and improves your overall wellbeing. Hing along with the other natural ingredients is particularly effective in reducing obesity.
Hing is highly beneficial in curing digestive disorders and flatulence. When the hing is boiled in water, it becomes diuretic in nature, cleanses kidneys and urinary bladder and prevents the body from any urinary infection. When the hing water is ingested regularly, it strengthens the bones and joints and cures stomach acidity. It improves the body metabolism and helps the body to burn more calories.
Along with hing, even jeera is effectively used for treating indigestion. Being rich in iron, it also acts as a natural blood purifier. It helps in controlling the blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels in the body. It also promotes weight loss and reduces fat from the body.
Lemon, another key ingredient of this water is loaded with vitamin C. Lemon improves the natural glow of the skin by reducing pores and wrinkles. It promotes hydration, provides relief from kidney stones, reduces obesity and alleviates indigestion.
Hing, Nutritional value 1 tsp (3.1 gm)
Calories 9.8 Calories from Fat 0.9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g 0%
Trans Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0.8mg 0%
Potassium 65mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 2.1g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0.7g 3%
Sugars 0.1g 0%
Protein 0.3g 0%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Benefits of Hing
Hing is loaded with a myriad of nutritional elements like carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, calcium, iron and an abundant host of volatile essential oils for skin health. It is extremely beneficial in the treatment of indigestion, respiratory problems, nervous problems, hypertension, menstrual cramps etc.
Loaded With Dietary Fiber:
Hing being loaded with fiber aids in digestion and maintains the regular bowel movements in the body. It lowers hyperglycemia and is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in the body. It also helps in maintaining proper body weight.
Rich in Carbs:
Being a rich source of carbohydrates, hing promotes metabolism. It is extremely beneficial in maintaining digestive health, promoting heart health and in improving brain function. It is a powerful mood regulator and helps in preventing obesity.
Powerhouse of Iron:
Iron being one of the essential nutrients in hing is a potent blood purifier. It increases hemoglobin and red blood cell count of the blood. It also treats anemia, improves concentration, reduces fatigue and boosts overall immunity of the body.
High on Potassium:
Hing is a good source of potassium. Potassium being an electrolyte balances the effects of sodium and is effective in maintaining blood pressure. It is highly beneficial for bone and joint health. It prevents the arteries from narrowing, thus reducing the chances of heart attacks and improving cardiovascular health.
Moderate Source of Calcium:
Calcium is extremely beneficial in improving bone and dental health. Hing, being moderately rich in calcium is effective in strengthening the teeth and bones, reduces risk of kidney stones and colon cancer and aids in preventing diseases like osteoporosis, osteomalacia and osteopenia.
Abundance of Essential Oils:
The two varieties of hing have a number of volatile oils like α-pinene, α-terpineol, β-pinene, luteolin, vanillin α- pinene, azulene, umbelliferone etc. The essential oils have significant anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal properties which act as a natural remedy for cough and cold congestion, asthma, prevents dental problems and cleanses the intestinal flora.
Therapeutic Benefits of Hing
Hing being rich in fiber aids in digestion. It provides relief from stomach problems like gastritis, bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence and promotes overall digestive health. Due to its anti-microbial properties, it prevents growth of flora in the intestines and reduces the chance of stomach infection.
Provides Relief from Respiratory Troubles:
Hing having anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and expectorant properties holds high significance in treating a multitude of respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough and cold. It relieves chest congestion and removes excessive mucous from the respiratory tract.
Boosts Fertility And Reproductive Health:
Hing being aphrodisiac in nature stimulates hormonal activity and increases energy and blood flow in the body thereby acting as a sexual stimulant. Consumption of hing stimulates the production of the hormone progesterone in females, reduces the risks of premature births and excessive bleeding during labor. It is also well known to eradicate symptoms of sterility and infertility in men and women.
Scientific researches show that the essential nutrients present in hing control the release of insulin from the pancreatic cells, thereby reducing blood sugar level in your body and keeping diabetes under control.
Good for Cardiac Health:
The presence of coumarins and the anti-coagulant property of hing prevents blood from clotting within the arteries, thereby reducing the high blood pressure in the body. Also, hing being rich in potassium, reduces the chances of any strokes or blockage in the heart, hence promoting overall cardiac health.
Relieves Menstrual Pain:
Irregular periods and menstrual cramps are a nightmare for most of the women out there. Hing being a natural blood thinner, reduces blood clots during periods, makes the flow smooth and easy, thus reducing cramps in your lower abdomen and back. Also, consumption of hing controls the secretion of progesterone, thereby regulating the menstrual cycle and making it more regular.
Hing in Ayurveda and Supplements
Hing is widely popular in Ayurveda by its Sanskrit names like Ramaha, Badhika, Ugragandha (named due to its strong pungent smell) and Sahasravedhi (medicine which is effective in thousand ways). Ashtanga Hridaya, an ancient Ayurvedic scripture documents hing as a powerful remedy against digestive problem, flatulence, toothache, impotency etc.
Charaka Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit compilation of Ayurvedic medicines categorizes hing as Deepaneeya (herbs that improve digestion), Svasahara (herbs that are alleviate respiratory disorders) and Sanjnasthapana (herbs that are useful in restoring mental consciousness).
Hing has a Katu Rasa (pungent taste). It is blessed with all three gunas like Laghu (light to digest), Snigdha (oily) and Tikshna (sharp and piercing, enters the deep tissues). It has Katu Vipaka (pungent in nature after digestion) and Ushna Virya (hot potency). It normalizes Kapha (earth and water) and Vata (air) and increases Pitta (digestion).
Ayurveda also mentions hing for various significant properties like Pachana (useful in digestion), Anulomana (reduces bloating), Hridaya (effective for cardiac problems) and Chakshushya (useful for treating eye problems).
Nowadays, hing is easily available in various forms and is widely sold in the form of Churna (powder), Tailam (oil) and Vati (tablets and capsules) in various stores.
Traditional Uses Of Hing
1. Hingvastak Churna:
This churna or powder is available in the market as a potent digestive remedy. The powder has digestive and carminative properties which increases digestion, reduces bloating, treats constipation, colic and prevents bad taste in mouth.
The word ‘astak” means eight, hence this formulation is a blend of eight essential natural ingredients like hing, sonth (dried ginger), kali mirch (black pepper), pipali (long pepper), ajwain (carom seeds), saindhava namak (Black Salt), kala jeera (black cumin seeds) and safed jeera (white cumin seeds).
The churna can also be prepared at home by drying the herbs under direct sunlight and grinding them into a smooth, fine powder.
This powder can be consumed regularly under medical supervision by infusing it with luke warm water or tea or added in your regular meal to enjoy its therapeutic benefits.
2. Hing Tailam or Oil:
It is a promising Ayurvedic medicine having a load of essential nutrients and volatile oils. It is highly significant in the treatment of flatulence, stomach problems, impotency, dental problems, cough, cold and impotency.
Benefits of Hing Oil
- Mix few drops of hing oil with 1-2 ml of sesame oil and massage it over your tummy or abdomen. Being anti-inflammatory in nature, it reduces stomach and colic pain. It is also highly effective in reducing menstrual cramps.
- Add 1-2 drops of hing oil to hot water and inhale it through steam distillation method or rub the oil over your chest or back. It is effective in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and dry cough. It also reduces nasal and clears chest congestion.
- Add few drops of hing oil to luke warm water and gargle it regularly. The anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties of hing helps in getting rid of dental problems like tooth decay, gum infection, bleeding gum, bad breath etc.
- Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of hing, rubbing 1-2 drops of hing oil mixed with 1-2 drops of garlic oil on the affected area acts as a natural antidote and provides relief from insect bites and stings.
Other Uses of Hing:
- Add a 2 tbsp of hing powder to multani mitti and rose water and apply it all over your face. The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of hing inhibits the growth of any bacteria on the skin thus reducing pimples and rashes.
- Hing being oily and moist in nature can do wonders for dry, brittle hair. Prepare a hair mask using hing, yogurt, egg white and almond oil and apply it over your hair from root to tips and keep it for an hour. Follow this routine once a week and notice visible results by getting naturally soft, lustrous hair.
- Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of hing, it is effective against headaches. Add a pinch of hing to warm water and drink it for 2-3 times under medical supervision to get relief from headaches.
Hing, being one of the quintessential flavoring agents is very common in almost all Indian kitchens. It is an everyday spice and when added to different Indian dishes it not only adds a specific flavour and aroma to but also extremely beneficial for overall health.
Masala Chaas (Spiced Buttermilk)
10-15 pudina (mint) leaves
5-6 dhania (coriander) leaves
6-7 curry leaves (for tempering)
1-2 green chillies
1 tbsp sonth (dried ginger powder)
2 cups homemade yogurt
1-2 tsp hing (asafoetida) powder
2-3 tbsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup of chilled water
5-6 cubes of ice
1-tsp ghee (for tempering)
Salt as per taste
Wash the mint, coriander and curry leaves and keep it aside.
In a blender, add mint, coriander, green chilli, hing, dried ginger powder, jeera powder, yogurt and salt.
Blend all the ingredients until it becomes a thick froth.
Add water and dash of lemon juice to it and blend a little more.
Pour the chaas in a large jug and keep it aside.
For tadka, heat ghee.
Add the curry leaves and jeera powder to it and saute for a minute.
Now pour the masala over the buttermilk and mix it thoroughly with a big ladle.
Pour it in glasses and relish on the chilled buttermilk.
This yummy yet nutritious buttermilk is very famous in both the north and south Indian households, mostly to quench your thirst and soothe your stomach during the scorching summers. The blend of natural ingredients specially hing aids in digestion and acts as a potent detox drink. Having a low-calorie count makes this a healthy drink for people who are under a weight loss regime.
Hing Jeera Aloo Curry
250 gm potato (boiled and peeled)
½ tsp hing
1-2 tbsp jeera (whole)
½ cup tomato puree
1-2 tbsp coriander powder
½ tbsp turmeric powder
1-2 tbsp red chilli powder
½ tbsp garam masala powder
2-3 green chilli
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (chopped)
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1 cup of water
Salt as per taste
Heat ghee in a frying pan
Add hing and jeera seeds to it and saute them till they crackle
Add the tomato puree to it and keep stirring.
Add the remaining spices like coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt to it and saute for a few more minutes.
Cut the boiled potatoes in small pieces and add to the spices.
Saute the potatoes with the spices so that the ingredients are all mixed together.
Add water and cook further for 5-10 minutes.
Switch off the flame and keep it in a container.
Complete the dressing with coriander leaves and green chilli and enjoy the spicy curry.
This spicy and tangy curry is a perfect vegetarian dish that goes with kachori or paratha or can be enjoyed as a side dish with dal and rice. Addition of hing to this spicy curry imparts a wonderful flavour and aroma to it and reduces bad cholesterol from the body.
Although hing exhibits numerous therapeutic benefits, in certain cases, it should be consumed under medical supervision.
It is unsafe to be taken by pregnant women as it may cause a miscarriage. So, always consult a doctor or medical practitioner if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Various researches show that if consumed in more than required or prescribed amounts, it can cause intestinal gas, diarrhea, swollen lips, blood disorders etc.