Updated: Jun 7
There is a whole encyclopedia of herbs and plants with medicinal properties, used by peoples from ancient times to today for health and well being.
Today we are all bombarded with "take this herb or this spice which is good for this, that or the other". There are over 64,500 that we know of at the moment and this is by no means an exhaustive number so the question arises which ones to take - you definitely can't take all 64,500!
So using the concept of "what is good for me and my family (toddlers, teenagers, young grown ups, grown ups, grannies and great grannies) for everyday use, I say that there are two which come top of the pile, tumeric and Asafoetida. These should be in everyone's kitchen cupboard alongside salt and sugar.
This herb has been a resident of this planet for at least 5000+ years, its part of the pharmacopia of the Vedic and Siddha medical systems from these times and certainly it has been recorded in antiquity records of Alexander the Great. In his day a plant very similar (but thought to be extinct today) called Silphium. Silphium was in use for treating cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, aches and pains, warts and also used as a contraception.
Asafoetida is the dried latex from the rhizome or tap root of the plant. It is part of the celery family. It known by many names Hing, Vandevi (wind breaker in Hindi) Devil's Dung (due to its very strong dungy smell) badian (that of gas and wind in Iranian). Asafoetida grows in excessive cold regions having dry climate. The plant is native to mountains of Afghanistan andcold deserts of Iran and are found naturally there.
The plant has many benefits but the main one is as an aid to the bodily function associated with digestion, so build up of gas in the belly, constipation, cramps asafoetida is the go to plant.
You can appreciate why the plant in many cultures has "gassy" names!
I can write tons on this herb but this video from Uma Swaminathan hits the nail on the head.
So if you suffer from any the following than asafoetida is for you.
Bloating, Flatulence and other stomach problems
High Blood Pressure
Insect bites and stings
Coughs, Colds, Influenza
helps clear bad breath
If you want to loose fat from around the thighs, hips and belly, add asafoetida to your food. This is not an instant process but what it does is it makes your digestive tract work more efficiently so that it processes the "fat" better out of your system.
Asafoetida and Pulses
Asafoetida is particularly good when it comes to using pulses as in haricot beans (baked beans), dried peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, faba beans, pidgeon, lupins, types of lentils because they produce a sugar called oligosaccharides which the human body is not able to break down fully.
Asafoetida's natural chemical compounds when added to these pulses in the cooking process help to breakdown this sugar making them much much easier for humans to digest properly.
The next question is where do you find it in at home....it is not easy to find it in the supermarket but in the Indian and Chinese shopping quarters, it is widely available. On the internet, again there are many sources but the question is where do you get the high quality ingredient?
If you have watched video from Uma Swaminathan you will know exactly why the quality is important.
If you want to try Asafoetida for the first time you can get a 40g packet from the shop with details of how and where to use it in your cooking and how to use as a tonic to relieve gases in the belly.
If you know it already and are looking for a good supplier, then you will not go wrong with Old India Asafoetida (Hing), as this is the only one which does not have other additives and I use it myself.
Credit & Talent
Thank you to all the talent below which made this post so good.
Updated 7 June 2022