Asphidity definition

Asphidity definition DEFAULT

An Asphidity bag was a folk remedy most commonly found in the Appalachian region in the 18th or 19th century. Basically, it was a bag of pungent herbs, often including ginseng, pokeweed and yellow root. However, the exact ingredients varied by practitioner. The vapors were supposed to ward off colds or other diseases.

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Keeping this in consideration, what is Acifidity used for?

The gum resin asafetida is used as a flavoring, food preservative, and fragrance. It is used as a folk remedy for a wide variety of purposes, including carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative diuretic, anthelminthic, aphrodisiac, and emmenagogue.

Secondly, what is an asafetida bag? Variously spelled asfidity, asfedity, asafetida, asphidity, and assafedity, it's a folk medicine tradition involves putting the stinky resin of the asafetida or asafoetida plant in a small bag worn around the neck to ward off disease.

Considering this, what are the health benefits of asafoetida?

  • Helps Reduce Bloating And Other Stomach Problems.
  • Helps Relieve Asthma.
  • May Lower Blood Pressure Levels.
  • May Relieve Menstrual Pain.
  • Reduces Headaches.
  • Can Heal Insect Bites And Stings.
  • It May Help Reduce Acne.
  • May Help Bring A Glow On Your Face.

Is asafoetida safe?

There is some evidence that asafoetida is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as medicine. It might cause swelling of the lips, burping, intestinal gas, diarrhea, headache, convulsions, blood disorders, and other side effects.


What is an Acifidity bag?

An asphidity bag was a folk remedy most commonly found in the Appalachian region in the 18th or 19th century. Basically, it was a bag of pungent herbs, often including ginseng, pokeweed and yellow root, garlic, rosemary, onion and mint. However, the exact ingredients varied by practitioner.

Click to see full answer.

Subsequently, one may also ask, what is Acifidity used for?

The gum resin asafetida is used as a flavoring, food preservative, and fragrance. It is used as a folk remedy for a wide variety of purposes, including carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative diuretic, anthelminthic, aphrodisiac, and emmenagogue.

why is asafoetida used in cooking? Asafoetida is used in savory dishes, often to add a more full flavor by mimicking the taste of onions, garlic, egg, and even meat. It's a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, commonly used along with turmeric in lentil dishes like dal, and a variety of vegetable dishes.

Similarly one may ask, how is asafoetida produced?

Cultivation and manufactureThe resin-like gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots and is used as a spice. The resin is greyish-white when fresh, but dries to a dark amber colour. The asafoetida resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed between stones or with a hammer.

Is asafoetida safe?

There is some evidence that asafoetida is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as medicine. It might cause swelling of the lips, burping, intestinal gas, diarrhea, headache, convulsions, blood disorders, and other side effects.

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Great Aunt Hattie's Asphidity Bag - Stories From My Childhood

Shyron is a retired Customer Service Rep. for Verizon. Colleges attended: Triton, Melrose Park, Illinois and Elgin, in Elgin, Illinois.

Great Aunt Hattie in her orchard

Asphidity bags, what are they for?

To ward off the flu virus, polio and, other diseases, people used folk medicine remedies, and medicine bags pinned to their under garments called Asphidity bags (that is what my Great Aunt Hattie called her medicine bag). Asphidity bags were filled with herbs, and concoctions worn to ward off these maladies.

As a child I wondered about the strange smells, when we would visit Great Aunt Hattie and we would hug her. When she explained she had an Asphidity bag pinned to her undergarment and what was in it and what the herbs were for, I understood why there were different smells at different times. But the one to ward off the flu sure was ripe.

My cousin on my Father's side and her three children.

Where Did Aunt Hattie's knowledge come from?

I wondered, although I never asked where Great Aunt Hattie, (born July of 1885, Lawrence County, Alabama) learned what to put in her Asphidity bag. Was it from her grandfather, born 1828 in Taft, Tennessee?

Could Great Aunt Hattie's knowledge of herbal uses and cures come from, her great grandfather, born 1807 in Fairfield, South Caroline? Or had her great grandfather’s father brought the knowledge from his homeland?

Could great Aunt Hattie have learned what to put in her Asphidity bag from the Native Americans (ancestors on my father’s side) who lived in the area?

Uncle Elmer and Aunt Hattie

Giante Fennel Plant

Was Great Aunt Hattie a Medicine Woman?

Was she a Healer? If Great Aunt Hattie was a healer, why didn't she heal Uncle Elmer? As I think back now, maybe she kept him alive longer than he would have lived without her poultices and teas.

Aunt Hattie's poultice was made of ground Fenugreek seeds and made into a poultice. She placed the poultice on Uncle Elmer's swollen legs. When we asked what was wrong with him. Aunt Hattie would say he has dropsy.

I did not know what dropsy was, and I doubt that any of us kids knew and I don't think any of us kids ever asked.

Yellow Root, was one of the (herbs) Aunt Hattie kept in her kitchen for tea. So I am thinking right now, as I am writing this, Uncle Elmer must have been diabetic.

Recipe for winter flu

'Asafetida,' i.e. sap from the stems of the ‘Giant Fennel plant, which Aunt Hattie grew in her herb garden along the side of the barn. From slits in the stems of the Fennel plant the sap is drained and allowed to harden into a gummy substance.

The Fennel gum smelled bad. It was sometimes called Devil’s dung (according to an article I read,) and was supposed to ward off colds.

When I was a child I thought I would rather have the cold, at least if my nose was stuffy I couldn't smell the poo, I mean goo, in the Asphidity bag.

Sage tea

Sassafras tea

I don't remember when Uncle Elmer quit working the land and sold the horses and cows. My grandma and grandpa supplied Aunt Hattie with milk and Sassafras roots which we kids would gather when grandpa plowed the land to plant cotton in the spring and also plowed the old cotton stalks under after harvest in the late fall.

Aunt Hattie and Grandma would make Sassafras tea. There is nothing like a cup of hot Sassafras tea or Sage tea to warm a person just before bed. To this day I still make both of these teas.

Great Aunt Hattie would send my grandma herbs and seeds, according to what was needed.

Fennel Muffins

Aunt Hattie's recipe for Fennel Muffins

Sift *2 cups of flour is all you need make 12 muffins

Blend in

*2 Tablespoons of Fennel Seeds

* 1/4 cup of sugar or less

* 1 Tablespoon of baking powder

(unless you use self rising flour)

Mix this together then add

* 1 Cup of milk

*1 egg, right from the hen

*1/4 cup of melted (real) butter, right from the churn

Preheat oven to 400°

Spoon batter into (two 6 cup) muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes

Great Aunt Hattie was a great cook.

Great Aunt Hattie could make the best Southern baked biscuits that I ever tasted. I liked her biscuits better than cake. Right out of her oven with butter and honey, or when they were cold and dunked in coffee, they would melt in your mouth.

Yes Great Aunt Hattie gave us coffee. Or maybe I should say a little bit of coffee in our milk.

My grandfather gathered the honey and there would always be enough to fill so many Mason Jars, that he could and would share with many families.

Aunt Hattie made the best Fennel muffins. See her recipe to the right −>

I don't know how she knew what the temprature was on her old wood burning cook stove.

Precious Memories

Precious Memories

What made me think of Aunt Hattie?

Reminiscing with my cousin Cherokeemom she mentioned how she asked Aunt Hattie where the smell was coming from. "My Asphidity bag," Aunt Hattie had answered.

Me: "Remember when Aunt Hattie use to wake us up at 4:00 AM so we could hear the birds singing?"

Cherokeemom: "Remember how she would make us feel grown up by giving us coffee with our biscuits for breakfast?"

Aunt Hattie's coffee for children consisted of 3/4 cup of milk 1/4 cup of coffee. We both laughed.

Me: "Remember the feather tick?"

You never slept in such comfort until you have slept on a feather tick. The down feathers came from the ducks my grandparents raised. That is what mattresses were stuffed with and Aunt Hattie had one of the best. The snowy sheets on the feather tick smelled like fresh sunshine, with a hint of lavender to sooth the senses. Even for a child this was like Heaven on earth, like sleeping on a fluffy white cloud.

"Remember the picture box we use to look through the pictures were in 3D?"

We shared so many fond memories and both of us knew we had lost someone very special, and we would miss her for as long as our precious memories last.

The Last Time I Saw Aunt Hattie

Asphidity Bag


When I talked with my cousin we were confused on the correct spelling, and when I looked it up in my dictionary and could not find it, I looked it up on Bing and here is what I found.

Bing: What is Asphidity made from? 'Asafetida' (ass-uh-fuh-TYE-duh) is a soft, lumpy, brown gum resin (thickened plant sap) that is very bad-tasting and which smells awful.

My husband has an old family heirloom dictionary, about 7 inches thick, and that is where I found how to pronounce the herb that goes in the Asphidity bag: as-ä-fet’ida, as-áfæt’-i-dà, gum and fatere, to have a disagreeable smell, stink A. feted inspissated (yes, inspissate is in the heirloom dictionary) sap from Persia and the East Indies. It is the concrete juice of a large umbelliferous plant, the Fetula, or Narther, Astafatida, and is much used in medicine as an antispasmodic and a stimulant. Written also ‘Assafaetida’ [Asa, gum, and L. dulcis, sweet.] A much used drug of former times, and called also Laser, probably obtained from an umbelliferous plant of Europe and Africa. It was at one time thought to be the same as benzoin.

My Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: asa·fet·i·da or asa·foe·ti·da, the fetid gum resin of various Oriental plants, formerly used as an anti-spasmodic and in folk medicine as a general prophylactic against disease.

Words that my computer does not recognize as being spelled correctly

Dulcis: dulcify, meaning: 1. To make sweet, 2. To make agreeable, MOLLIFY

Inspissate: in·spis·sate, to make thick or thicker

Umbelliferous: of or relating to the carrot family (i.e. the giant Fennel plant)

Have you ever?

Known anyone special that you miss so much you heart aches when you think of them?

© 2014 Shyron E Shenko


Yvette Goines on August 06, 2020:

My great grandmother had me to wear an asphidity bag when i was younger. I was so glad to find this posting bcuz i was sure how to spell it to look it up. I knew during tje Spanish flu pandemic many wore the bag. So i want to purchase some for this pandemic for my grand kids. Thks!

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on June 28, 2020:

Au fait, thank you for the comments and posting.

You are a blessing

C E Clark from North Texas on June 27, 2020:

I like this article because it tells firsthand how things were done years ago, and I can think of no better way of learning about the history of how ordinary people lived a few years back. Just a generation or so ago, yet so much has changed and been forgotten. Glad you are keeping it alive.

Posting this to FB & AH.

Hope you are being extra cautious now that opening up this state and all these Trump rallies are reigniting the virus. Blessings, dear friend. Stay safe . . .

Frances Powers on April 15, 2020:

As we face this COVID19 pandemic I thought of the Asphidity Bag the gum kind} we had to wear when we would be in a crowd. As small children we would be so excited to go to the County Fair but then My Mother would pin that awful smelling bag to our undergarments. I rebelled but it didn't help. BUT I was never sick except for childhood diseases. I figured out why it worked. We smelled so bad that no one wanted to be near us. My cousin Sue said she had to wear one on a string around her neck to school. Her grandmother and my great grandmother was Native American as I have read others who used this method was. . I think they might try this on this epidemic. Lol

Sandra MacDonald OBrien on March 21, 2020:

I miss my Grandmothers as today I could have asked more questions: What made their Asaphedity Bags necessary...Why and where did our Ancestors come from Germany and how did they settle in Cairo and Alton, Illinois?

Pat McManigal on March 03, 2020:

My mother would hang one around our necks, we hated the smell, but we never got sick.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on February 28, 2020:

Constance, thank you for the comments, I do appreciate you.

Blessings my friend.

Betty Johnston Russell on January 23, 2020:

My understanding of "dropsy" (called "the heart dropsy" by my folks) is that it is congestive heart failure. That accounts for the swelling and other symptoms. Congestive heart failure is severe and there is no cure that I know of. There is medication to treat it but no cure.

Constance Marbury on June 29, 2019:

I am now 70 years old my mother used to hang that around me and my brothers neck it did smell bad and I hated it sometimes she used to make us taste it whenever we got sick it was awful but it worked I guess that's why for years I never got sick or had colds. Now I'm 70 and I still don't get colds. I never knew where the asfidgety came from so I never made it for my children, but all those years I never got sick always had energy and had a lot of healthy children. I wish I knew how to make it now because now my age just got up with me and I'm getting arthritis I have thyroid problem and if I knew where to get this I would surely wear it today but I still don't catch colds

C E Clark from North Texas on April 12, 2019:

Came back to share this excellent story so that hopefully people won't forget our history. Posting this on FB & AH.

Blessings dear friend. Take care . . .

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on January 05, 2019:

annodam, I thank you for the comment and Blessings to you also.

Funny that you mention your granddaughter Addie. My Great Aunt Hattie's sister's name was Addie. I don't remember about hanging garlic outside the door.

Again I thank you for the comment. Forgive me for taking so long to answer you comment.

annodam on September 30, 2018:

Hi Shyron,

Gosh I’m almost 79 and I didn’t think I could still remember back that gramma told me about wearing the horrid smelling asphidity bags to school. Poor thing...and hanging garlic outside the door to ward off evil spirits. And the mustard plasters she’d make for goodness they worked hard to make themself well...I grew up on Vick’s vapor rub and chicken noodle is my first visit and it won’t be my last...thank you for a great site. Oh before I forget...I have a Gragddaughter name’s such a old name it’s rarely heard anymore...also my gramma was from West Virginia and were from the Hatfield clan...Ps...gramma had feather ticks too...merrrrcy, wish I could turn back the clock....blessings to you from one always blessed...

annodam on September 30, 2018:

Hi Shyron,

Gosh I’m almost 79 and I didn’t think I could still remember back that gramma told me about wearing the horrid smelling asphidity bags to school. Poor thing...and hanging garlic outside the door to ward off evil spirits. And the mustard plasters she’d make for goodness they worked hard to make themself well...I grew up on Vick’s vapor rub and chicken noodle is my first visit and it won’t be my last...thank you for a great site. Ps...gramma had feather ticks too...merrrrcy, wish I could turn back the clock....blessings to you from one always blessed...

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 05, 2018:

Au fait (Cee), thanking you again for the re-read, new comment on this article, you are so appreciated.

I hope you are staying cool!

Blessings dear friend.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 25, 2018:

This is another of my favorite stories. Posted on FB.

Hope all is well with you. Blessings and hugs, dear friend.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on May 29, 2018:

Jackie Lynnley, I want to thank you for the comment on this hub and apologize for missing your comment for such a long time.

I do appreciate you and thank you, Blessings my friend.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on May 27, 2018:

Patricia, thank you for the comments and a special thank you for the Angels, who will return shortly with Blessings.

I am so glad we could share a walk down memory lane.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 21, 2018:

----No one in my family used these bags but I had heard of them as our neighbor did. You spoke of dropsy in your article. My pup Scotty that I adored and was our first pup got dropsy. He was taken to the vet and did not return home.

Interesting and a walk down memory lane....we had several stereoscopes when I was a child and never tired of looking at the pictures with them Angels are on the way today ps

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on December 31, 2017:

You are so welcome Anita.


Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 29, 2017:

Great, I have so many of them but didn't know if you could use them whole (wouldn't wanna choke anyone!). They have great benefits so, yes, I will make some this weekend! Thank you.

Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on December 27, 2017:

Thank you.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on December 27, 2017:

Anita, thank you so much for the comment.

I would love to read your articles on how to make down comforters. I have a down coat that is so warm.

Please keep on trying to get them published and I will try to read them.

Blessings my friend

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on December 27, 2017:

Yes Jackie the Fennel seeds are whole, I hope the recipe turns out great. I remember the taste and often look for these cakes in the stores.

Thank you for the comment.

Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on December 26, 2017:

Shyron I love your memories of the Feather tick.

I love your memories, Heaven on Earth like sleep walking on a fluffy white cloud, that really describes a goose or duck down feather comforter.

I have two hubs on the production of goose down comforters and the work that goes into making one. Unfortunately both were unpublished and I can't see anything wrong with them.

I will have to keep on trying as goose down is the subject that I feel passionate about.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 25, 2017:

Are the fennel seeds used whole? I would love to try that recipe.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 30, 2017:

Barry, the Boyles family was big, maybe your grandfather's buddy was in the band that my cousin was in which I wrote about "The Last Hoedown" sorry I don't remember the name of the band.

We lived in Mount Hope, "When a gun for protection becomes a liability."

Barry Jackson on July 30, 2017:

I know Town Creek pretty well, Shyron. My grandfathers buddy during WW2 was from there, and lived in Moulton afterward. His last name was Boyles and was County Coroner, I think in the 70s.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 29, 2017:

Thank you for the comment/question Barry. Aunt Hattie lived in Town Creek, near Moulton.

Barry Jackson on July 27, 2017:

What part of Lawrence county was your Aunt Hattie from? My dad's people were from Mount Hope in SW Lawrence county.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on May 31, 2017:

Carathera, thank you for the comment.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on April 30, 2017:

Devika, thank you for taking the time to read about my Great Aunt Hattie, she was my grandfather's sister. My parents are both deceased, yes I do miss them.

You are welcome

Blessings my friend

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 25, 2017:

It's hard to live far from parents as I do and probably many others too. Speaking from my point of view I miss my parents.Thank you for an excellent and thoughtful hub.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on September 21, 2016:

Thank you Sammy, I appreciate you taking the time to read my hub and tell me about your family. I am glad if this brought back fond memories for you.

Tennessee is a beautiful state.

Blessings to you and your family

SAMMY BRITT on September 21, 2016:

From Beech Bluff Tennessee I remember very well the Asphidity bag in the 1940,s my dad would mix Asphidity with something else and in the wintertime every morning before he went out side to work he would touch the bottle of Asphidity to his tounge to keep from getting a bad cold and my sister and I would have to do the same thing before we HHattiewent to school .My dad and my uncle always wore cotton denium overalls and acotton denium jumper in the winter , my grand mother and my mother and all of my aunts all wore cotton dresses year round and an apron always when in the kitchen Those were the years that bring back memories much like your aunt Hattie .

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on August 19, 2016:

Anita, thank you so much for reading about Aunt Hattie and commenting, I really appreciate you.

Yes Scurvy can be prevented/cured by citrus fruits.

Blessings and Hugs my new friend.

Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on August 18, 2016:

Hi Shyron, I enjoyed reading about your Aunt Hattie. What an

interesting lady. Although I've never heard of a asphidity bag, I have

heard about garlic being carried in a pocket to ward off viruses. The Bible actually have a lot to say about plants, diet and herbs, from Genesis to Revelation plants are mentioned as a blessing from God for medicine and food. Genesis 1-29.

If you think that nearly a million sailors died from scurvy after the navy had been told that taking lemons could prevent and cure scurvy.

Thousands of people have been healed by alternative medicine.

I enjoy reading your interesting hubs.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 24, 2016:

Au fait, thank you for the comment, compliment, I truly appreciate you.

Yesterday was a day from hell. I had a major migraine, took my strongest meds and went to bed.

Hope all is well with you and you are staying cool.

Blessings and hugs dear friend.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 24, 2016:

Thank you Robert for the comment. The recipe was one of Aunt Hattie's, she made Fennel Muffins often so she would have them for her nieces and nephews when they came to visit her, which was often. She also made the most fantastic biscuits ever.

Robert Sacchi on July 22, 2016:

An interesting Hub about your great Aunt Hattie. The recipe was a good addition to your Hub.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on July 22, 2016:

Nadine, my beautiful friend thank you for the comment, and compliments, those were the "Good-Ole-days" sometimes I wish I could go back, but there is too much in between that I would not want to go through a second time.

Blessings and hugs dear friend.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on July 20, 2016:

What great childhood memories. Many thanks for sharing. Today we live in a world where natural medication with herbs is coming back. Partly due to the Social Medea where one can learn a great deal about healing remedies that older generations have passed on. Great hub.

C E Clark from North Texas on July 19, 2016:

Giving this interesting article another share. I don't think I've ever read about this subject anywhere else. I think it's good that you wrote it so this means of curing sickness won't be lost. Not because it works or is worthwhile, but because it's a part of our history. :)

Do hope you're taking serious care if you're out in the heat.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on April 19, 2016:

Au fait, thank you for the comment, reading this again and for sharing. I really appreciate you.

Hope all is well with you also.

Blessings and hugs always my dear friend

C E Clark from North Texas on April 19, 2016:

Some of the things people used to do to fend off disease and illness is quite interesting don't you think? Superstition is a funny thing. Sharing this again. My own grandmother told me about this asphidity bag long ago and I think it's interesting that we have learned so much about preventing and dealing with disease just in our own lifetimes.

Hope all is well with you and John. Take care dear friend . . .

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on February 26, 2015:

Marion, thank you for the visit and comment. I did not have the Asphidity bag, But Aunt Hattie use to make all kinds of rubs for us when we got the sniffles. The Hot Toddy, we had those also. I love the sassafras tea and have even now.

You are welcome. I hope you still use some of these old remedies.

Take Care and have a blessed day.

Marion on February 26, 2015:

Hi I was reading your article on your aunt, and her use of asphidity. As a child my mother had myself and each one of my siblings wearing a bag of it around our necks. I would hide mine inside my shirt. We also drank sassafrase tea, and a tea called Horehound onething about these home remedies is I can't recall ever having to go to hospital for a cold. Lots of garlic and onion in food. Hot tardy mad with tea a little whiskey honey lemon, and an onion cutup and boiled in a pot with sugar and water it makes a syrup add to hot tardy. Thank you so much for telling about the asphidity,Your aunt new what she was during. My mother has passed on. But I remember her using home remedies to keep us well. Oh yeah also glovers mane mixed with petroleum gelly in our hair, we might have been a smelly something lol, but at least we well Thank you again

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on January 05, 2015:

Patricia, I am sure the herbs must have been beneficial Great Aunt Hattie lived well into her nineties and my grandmother was 95. I am sure the herbs would have helped your pup also.

Thank you for the comments and reading my story from my childhood.

And the stereoscope you grandson will love, I am sure.

Angels with blessings and hugs on the way to you.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on January 05, 2015:

Au fait, I am glad you found my article about my great aunt interesting. Thank you for the comments, sharing and the up-votes.

I hope you are staying warm, and the cold wind dies down. John and I are staying in where it is warm. You are right we can never have enough blessings and hugs, and I am wishing you many, many blessings and hugs.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 04, 2015:

O how wonderful it is that you have this knowledge. Too often our loved ones get away from us and their stories never get told. And who knows really how well they worked??

We had a pup who died from dropsy? I wonder if herb therapy would have helped..this was back in the late fifties and the vet could do nothing to help him.

And the stereoscope is so cool I have one that has been in our family for ever!!!

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

C E Clark from North Texas on January 04, 2015:

Such an interesting article! My own grandmother talked about this thing when I was little and now I wish I'd paid more attention. Sharing with followers again and voting this up.

Very chilly las' night and that wind made it hard to get and keep warm. Going to keep getting colder at night for a while. Hope you and John stay in where it's warm. Blessings and hugs for you, 2 things one can never have too many of.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on September 25, 2014:

Thank you Barbara, for your comment, which I appreciate.

You are welcome. There are so many memories that half are forgotten.

I also have to make the Fennel muffins and to go with them the sage tea.

Blessings to you Barbara.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on September 25, 2014:

Al (word55) Hattie(s) raised in the south are wise women, at least my Great Aunt Hattie and her twin (Addie), they are sages.

Forgive the delay in thanking you for the comment and up votes, got stuff going on that interferes with my time on the computer.


Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on September 25, 2014:

Au fait, thank you as always for all that you do and especially for being my friend. Thand you for the comments, share, pin and post.

Have a blessed day, hope all is well with you.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 21, 2014:

I love this tribute to your Aunt Hattie and all the lovely associations that it brought up around your family and other "precious memories". I can't think of a better youtube to go along with this hub, either-- perfect! And I am also thinking of trying the fennel muffin recipe, but alas, no butter straight from the churn nor egg straight from the hen (although my neighbour does have hens that come into our yard on a regular basis lol). Thank you for posting this! Voted up and shared!

Barbara Badder from USA on September 21, 2014:

I had to check what dropsy meant. The term was used for swelling of the tissues from excess water buildup, what we would call edema today. Of course, the edema is caused by something also.

You have such rich memories. Thanks for sharing them with us in your writing.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on September 21, 2014:

Um good Shyron. My mom's name was Hattie so when I saw the title I knew it was all good and it was better than i thought. My mom was similar to your great aunt. She was raised in the far south. My mom likewise, had remedies for any type of illness. Great hub of love. Yes, I miss my mom.I vote this one way up. Thanks to Au fait for re-sharing

C E Clark from North Texas on September 20, 2014:

Glad to see you have lots of good comments on here. This is an excellent story and it helps bring a bit of our history alive. I always prefer to read about history from the people who lived it or who had direct contact with the people and lifestyle they're writing about. Posted this on FB, pinned to AH (worked this time), and shared with followers.

Shyron E Shenko (author) from Texas on August 13, 2014:

Asphidity / Asafoetida ~ A healing herb that is simply worn around your neck


Indian spice; dried latex from the rhizome or root of several Ferula spp.

Unprocessed asafoetida in a jar and as a tincture

Asafoetida (; also spelled asafetida)[1] is the dried latex (gumoleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, perennialherbs growing 1 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall. They are part of the celery family, Umbelliferae. Asafoetida is thought to be in the same genus as silphium, a North African plant now believed to be extinct, and was used as a cheaper substitute for that historically important herb from classical antiquity. The species are native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan where substantial amounts are grown.[2]

Asafoetida has a pungent smell, lending it the trivial name of "stinking gum". The odor dissipates upon cooking; in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks or other onion relatives. Asafoetida is also known colloquially as "devil's dung" or "food of the devils" in English (and similar expressions in many other languages).

Etymology and other names[edit]

The English name is derived from asa, a latinised form of Persianazā, meaning 'mastic', and Latinfoetidus meaning 'smelling, fetid', which refers to its strong sulfurous odour.[3]

In the United States, a folk spelling and pronunciation is "asafedity".[citation needed] It is called perunkayam (பெருங்காயம்) in Tamil, hinga (हिंग) in Marathi, yang’eh/ینگہہ in Kashmiri language, hengu (ହେଙ୍ଗୁ) in Odia, hiṅ (হিং) in Bengali, ingu (ಇಂಗು) in Kannada, kāyaṃ (കായം) in Malayalam[4] (it was attested as raamadom in the 14th century), inguva (ఇంగువ) in Telugu,[4] and hīng (हींग) in Hindi.[4] In Pashto, it is called hënjâṇa (هنجاڼه).[5] Its pungent odour has resulted in its being known by many unpleasant names. In French it is known (among other names) as merde du Diable, meaning 'Devil's shit'.[6] In English it is sometimes called Devil's dung, and equivalent names can be found in most Germanic languages (e.g., GermanTeufelsdreck,[7]Swedishdyvelsträck, Dutchduivelsdrek,[6] and Afrikaansduiwelsdrek). Also, it is called chitt or chiltit (חילתית) in Hebrew;[8] in Finnish, pirunpaska or pirunpihka; in Turkish, Şeytan tersi, Şeytan boku or Şeytan otu;[6] and in Kashubian it is called czarcé łajno. Other names for it include ting[4] and haltit or tyib in Arabic.[9][clarification needed]and hingu in Malay.[citation needed]


Typical asafoetida contains about 40–64% resin, 25% endogeneous gum, 10–17% volatile oil, and 1.5–10% ash. The resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols A and B, ferulic acid, umbelliferone and four unidentified compounds.[10] The volatile oil component is rich in various organosulfide compounds, such as 2-butyl-propenyl-disulfide, diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide (also present in garlic) [11] and dimethyl trisulfide, which is also responsible for the odor of cooked onions.[12] The organosulfides are primarily responsible for the odor and flavor of asafoetida.[citation needed]

Botanical sources[edit]

Many Ferula species are utilized as the sources of asafoetida. Most of them are characterized by abundant sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[13][14]

  • Ferula foetida is the source of asafoetida in Eastern Iran, western Afghanistan, western Pakistan and Central Asia (Karakum Desert, Kyzylkum Desert).[15][16] It is one of the most widely distributed asafoetida-producing species and often mistaken for F. assa-foetida.[15] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[14]
  • Ferula assa-foetida is endemic to Southern Iran and is the source of asafoetida there. It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[13][14] Although it is often considered the main source of asafoetida on the international market, this notion is attributable to the fact that several Ferula species acting as the major sources are often misidentified as F. assa-foetida.[15][17] In fact, the production of asafoetida from F. assa-foetida is confined to its native range, namely Southern Iran, outside which the sources of asafoetida are other species.[14][16][18]
  • Ferula pseudalliacea and Ferula rubricaulis endemic to western and southwestern Iran are sometimes considered conspecific with F. assa-foetida.[15][17]
  • Ferula lutensis is the source of asafoetida in Eastern Iran.[14][16] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[14]
  • Ferula alliacea is the source of asafoetida in Eastern Iran.[16] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[14]
  • Ferula latisecta is the source of asafoetida in Eastern Iran and southern Turkmenistan.[16] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[13]
  • Ferula sinkiangensis is endemic to Xinjiang, China. It is the source of asafoetida in China.[19] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[13]
  • Ferula fukanensis is endemic to Xinjiang, China. It is the source of asafoetida in China.[19] It has sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[13]
  • Ferula narthex is native to Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and Kashmir.[15] Although it is often listed as the source of asafoetida, one report stated that it lacked sulfur-containing compounds in the essential oil.[20]



Containers of commercial asafoetida

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. It plays a critical flavoring role in Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as a savory enhancer.[21] Used along with turmeric, it is a standard component of lentilcurries, such as dal, chickpea curries, and vegetable dishes, especially those based on potato and cauliflower. Asafoetida is used in vegetarian Indian Punjabi and South Indian cuisine where it enhances the flavor of numerous dishes, where it is quickly heated in hot oil before sprinkling on the food. Kashmiri cuisine also uses it in lamb/mutton dishes such as Rogan Josh.[22] It is sometimes used to harmonise sweet, sour, salty, and spicy components in food. The spice is added to the food at the time of tempering. Sometimes dried and ground asafoetida (in small quantities) can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salad.[citation needed]

In its pure form, it is sold in the form of chunks of resin, small quantities of which are scraped off for use. The odor of the pure resin is so strong that the pungent smell will contaminate other spices stored nearby if it is not stored in an airtight container.[citation needed]

Cultivation and manufacture[edit]

The resin-like gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots, and is used as a spice. The resin is greyish-white when fresh, but dries to a dark amber colour. The asafoetida resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed between stones or with a hammer. Today, the most commonly available form is compounded asafoetida, a fine powder containing 30% asafoetida resin, along with rice flour or maida (white wheat flour) and gum arabic.[citation needed]

Ferula assa-foetida is a monoecious, herbaceous, perennial plant of the family Apiaceae. It grows to 2 m (6.6 ft) high, with a circular mass of 30–40 cm (12–16 in) leaves. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Flowering stems are 2.5–3 m (8.2–9.8 ft) high and 10 cm (3.9 in) thick and hollow, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Flowers are pale greenish yellow produced in large compound umbels. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. They yield a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.[23]


Asafoetida or Hing is mentioned as far back as in the Bhagvat Puran (7:5:23-24) written over 4000 years ago by Veda Vyas. It states that one must not have eaten hing before worshipping the deity. Asafoetida was familiar in the early Mediterranean, having come by land across Iran. It was brought to Europe by an expedition of Alexander the Great, who, after returning from a trip to northeastern ancient Persia, thought they had found a plant almost identical to the famed silphium of Cyrene in North Africa—though less tasty. Dioscorides, in the first century, wrote, "the Cyrenaic kind, even if one just tastes it, at once arouses a humour throughout the body and has a very healthy aroma, so that it is not noticed on the breath, or only a little; but the Median [Iranian] is weaker in power and has a nastier smell." Nevertheless, it could be substituted for silphium in cooking, which was fortunate, because a few decades after Dioscorides' time, the true silphium of Cyrene became extinct, and asafoetida became more popular amongst physicians, as well as cooks.[24]

Asafoetida is also mentioned numerous times in Jewish literature, such as the Mishnah.[25]Maimonides also writes in the Mishneh Torah "In the rainy season, one should eat warm food with much spice, but a limited amount of mustard and asafoetida [חִלְתִּיתchiltit]."[26]

Though it is generally forgotten now in Europe, it is still widely used in India. Asafoetida is eaten by Brahmins and Jains.[27] Devotees of the Hare Krishna also use Hing in their food, as they are not allowed to consume onions or garlic. Their food has to be presented to Lord Krishna for sanctification (to become Prasadam) before consumption and onions and garlic cannot be offered to Krishna.[28]

Asafoetida was described by a number of Arab and Islamic scientists and pharmacists. Avicenna discussed the effects of asafoetida on digestion. Ibn al-Baitar and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi described some positive medicinal effects on the respiratory system.[29]

After the fall of Rome, until the 16th century, asafoetida was rare in Europe, and if ever encountered, it was viewed as a medicine. "If used in cookery, it would ruin every dish because of its dreadful smell", asserted Garcia de Orta's European guest. "Nonsense", Garcia replied, "nothing is more widely used in every part of India, both in medicine and in cookery." During the Italian Renaissance, asafoetida was used as part of the exorcism ritual.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"asafœtida". Oxford English Dictionary second edition. Oxford University Press. 1989. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  2. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^Cannon, Garland Hampton; Kaye, Alan S. (2001). The Persian Contributions to the English Language: An Historical Dictionary. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN .
  4. ^ abcdLiterature Search Unit (January 2013). "Ferula Asafoetida: Stinking Gum. Scientific literature search through SciFinder on Ferula asafetida". Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine.
  5. ^Pashto–English Dictionary
  6. ^ abc"Asafoetida: die geur is des duivels!"Vegatopia (in Dutch), retrieved 8 December 2011. This was used also as a source the book World Food Café: Global Vegetarian Cooking by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, 1999, ISBN 978-1-57959-060-4.
  7. ^Thomas Carlyle's well-known 19th century novel Sartor Resartus concerns a German philosopher named Teufelsdröckh.
  8. ^ben Jehiel, Nathan (1553). ספר הערוך [Sefer he-ʻArukh] (in Hebrew). Venice: Frentsuni-Bragadin.
  9. ^Mahendra, Poonam; Bisht, Shradha (2012). "Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity". Pharmacognosy Reviews. 6 (12): 141–146. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.99948. ISSN 0973-7847. PMC 3459456. PMID 23055640.
  10. ^Handbook of Indices of Food Quality and Authenticity. Rekha S. Singhal, Pushpa R. Kulkarni. 1997, Woodhead Publishing, Food industry and trade ISBN 1-85573-299-8. More information about the composition, p. 395.
  11. ^Mahendra, P; Bisht, S (2012). "Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity". Pharmacogn Rev. 6 (12): 141–6. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.99948. PMC 3459456. PMID 23055640.
  12. ^Asafoetida. Katrina Kramer. Royal Society of Chemistry Podcast. 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ abcdeSahebkar, Amirhossein; Iranshahi, Mehrdad (2010-12-01). "Biological activities of essential oils from the genus Ferula (Apiaceae)". Asian Biomedicine. 4 (6): 835–847. doi:10.2478/abm-2010-0110. ISSN 1875-855X.
  14. ^ abcdefgFarhadi, Faegheh; Iranshahi, Mehrdad; Taghizadeh, Seyedeh Faezeh; Asili, Javad (2020-11-01). "Volatile sulfur compounds: The possible metabolite pattern to identify the sources and types of asafoetida by headspace GC/MS analysis". Industrial Crops and Products. 155: 112827. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2020.112827. ISSN 0926-6690.
  15. ^ abcdeChamberlain, David F (1977). "The identity of Ferula assa-foetida L."Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. 35 (2): 229–233.
  16. ^ abcdeFarhadi, Faegheh; Asili, Javad; Iranshahy, Milad; Iranshahi, Mehrdad (2019-11-01). "NMR-based metabolomic study of asafoetida". Fitoterapia. 139: 104361. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2019.104361. ISSN 0367-326X.
  17. ^ abPanahi, Mehrnoush; Banasiak, łukasz; Piwczyński, Marcin; Puchałka, Radosław; Kanani, Mohammad Reza; Oskolski, Alexei A; Modnicki, Daniel; Miłobędzka, Aleksandra; Spalik, Krzysztof (2018-09-28). "Taxonomy of the traditional medicinal plant genus Ferula (Apiaceae) is confounded by incongruence between nuclear rDNA and plastid DNA". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 188 (2): 173–189. doi:10.1093/botlinnean/boy055. ISSN 0024-4074.
  18. ^Barzegar, Alireza; Salim, Mohammad Amin; Badr, Parmis; Khosravi, Ahmadreza; Hemmati, Shiva; Seradj, Hassan; Iranshahi, Mehrdad; Mohagheghzadeh, Abdolali (2020). "Persian asafoetida vs. sagapenum: challenges and opportunities". Research Journal of Pharmacognosy. 7 (2): 71–80. doi:10.22127/rjp.2019.196452.1516.
  19. ^ ab国家药典委员会 (2015). 中华人民共和国药典:2015年版 [Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China]. 一部. 北京: 中国医药科技出版社. p. 190. ISBN . OCLC 953251657.
  20. ^Samimi, M.; Unger, W. (1979). "Die Gummiharze Afghanischer "Asa foetida"–liefernder Ferula–Arten. Beobachtungen zur Herkunft und Qualität Afghanischer "Asa foetida"". Planta Medica. 36 (6): 128–133. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1097252. ISSN 0032-0943.
  21. ^Carolyn Beans. Meet Hing: The Secret-Weapon Spice Of Indian Cuisine.June 22, 2016.
  22. ^Kashmiri Recipes; Mutton Rogan Josh. It is essential to many many south Indian dishes. 2018-12-11 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^Ross, Ivan A. (2005). "Ferula assafoetida". Medicinal Plants of the World, Volume 3. pp. 223–234. doi:10.1007/978-1-59259-887-8_6. ISBN .
  24. ^Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices. Andrew Dalby. 2000. University of California Press. Spices/ History. 184 pages. ISBN 0-520-23674-2
  25. ^m. Avodah Zarah ch. 1; m. Shabbat ch. 20; et al.
  26. ^Mishneh Torah, Laws of Opinions (Hilchot Deot) 4:8.
  27. ^Pickersgill, Barbara (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 157. ISBN .
  28. ^"Why no onions or garlic?". Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  29. ^Avicenna (1999). The Canon of Medicine (al-Qānūn fī'l-ṭibb), vol. 1. Laleh Bakhtiar (ed.), Oskar Cameron Gruner (trans.), Mazhar H. Shah (trans.). Great Books of the Islamic World. ISBN 978-1-871031-67-6
  30. ^Menghi, Girolamo. The Devil's Scourge: Exorcism During the Italian Renaissance. p. 151.

External links[edit]


Definition asphidity

What's in Your Acifidity Bag? Asafoetida is in Mine!

What is Asafoetida?

asafoetida clumpAsafoetida is a resin derived from the four-year-old roots of the Ferula asafoetida plant, a member of the fennel species. The plant is cut back at the ground to make a slit in the top of the root for the resin to ooze out, then covered to protect from the elements. This action is repeated until enough of the hardened resin forms a walnut-shaped brown ball for harvest. The brown clump is ground into a powder and mixed with flour and other ingredients for market.

Asafoetida is native to the higher altitudes of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Central China, Iran, and Afghanistan, and is a primary imported spice to India, an essential ingredient in curries and used as a medicine for centuries (noted in ancient reference dating 400 BC). Use of plant's resinous root juice has appeared in writings of Alexander the Great, medical practitioners in the first century, noted in the histories of ancient Rome, and used as a medicine into the Middle Ages. [2]

Historical Use

The strong sulfurous odor of asafoetida mellows in cooking, yielding a strong sweet onion-garlic flavor to dishes. Very little of the spice is necessary so a small container lasts a long time. The potent powder is best fried in butter (ghee) to dissipate the smell before adding the remaining ingredients to the pot. The storage of asafoetida requires an airtight container enclosed in a sealable bag (or two) to prevent the smell from contaminating other pantry items.

The powdered resin has a very long list of uses, here are just a few:

    powdered asafoetida
  • epilepsy
  • hysteria
  • whooping cough, bronchial, and asthmatic issues
  • antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties for use in acifidity bags, soups, and teas
  • cure for intestinal worms
  • toothache relief
  • breaking addictions
  • contraceptive and causing abortion (pregnant women beware)
  • antiflatulent that eases digestion and constipation, perfect for dishes containing legumes and foods that may be hard on the digestive system
  • natural meat preservative and pickling
  • successful lure for fishing (for coating bait)
  • repels evil spirits and potential disease-infected strangers

Future Use

During the swine flu pandemic (a similar deadly strain of the Spanish flu virus) in 2009, antiviral drugs were in short supply, vaccines took months to develop, and were expensive ($100 per shot). Scientists in labs worldwide were testing natural home remedies as alternatives for potential unprotected populations. Lab reports proved that asafoetida resin lived up to its historical hype as a cure. The test results found multiple strong antiviral constituents and additional properties much more potent than the costly manufactured treatments.[3]

With further testing of asafoetida's, researchers also discovered the powerful antioxidant polyphenols were very successful in fighting many forms of cancer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). [1]

It's in the Bag!

I am incorporating asafoetida powder to my pantry of culinary and medicinal herbs and spices! Today's intellectual society may laugh or frown on the malodorous amulets of the past, but history has shown that some home remedies actually have merit! So what will be in your acidity bag if you ever need one?

Photo Credits

Wiki Commons:

All other photographs remain the property of the author.
[1] Bharat Aggarwal, PhD & Deborah Yost. Healing Spices. Sterling Publishing, NY. 2011
[2] A Modern Herbal. Mrs. M. Greive. Pine, White.
[3] My Indian Food. Asafetida.



Asafoetida, Ferula Asafoetida, pronounced ass-uh-FET-uh-duh (listen here), has a few alternate spellings:

  • asafetida
  • assafoetida
  • assa-foetida
  • asfetida
The plant is also known as:
  • giant fennel
  • narthex
  • assant
  • devil's dung
  • hing, heeng, heing, or ting
  • food of the gods
  • stinking gum
  • possibly more

"asa" is Persian for gum.
"foetidus" is Latin for stinking.

Acifidity bags have as many varied spellings as the asafoetida plant:

The medicine bags were also known by some as "Sally rags."

Asafoetida was not the only smelly remedy used in an acifidity bag:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • yellow root
  • golden seal
  • American ginseng
  • and other odorous herbs
Traditional culture and available herbs and spices, dictated the contents of acifidity bags around the world.
Asphidity / Asafoetida ~ A healing herb that is simply worn around your neck

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