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.