Asafoetidea is a native of Persia and other countries of the East. It appears to have been known in the East from very early ages and, notwithstanding its repulsive odor, is at present much used in India and Persia as a condiment.
The oldest plants are most productive, and those under 4 years old are not considered worth cutting. The juice is collected and allowed to harden in the sun.
The odor is garlic-like, extremely fetid, and tenacious; the taste is bitter, acrid, and long lasting. It is said 1 dr. of the fresh juice diffuses a more powerful odor through a closed room than 100# of the drug as usually kept in the stores.
Asafoetida softens by heat without melting and is difficult to pulverize. It yields all its virtues to alcohol and forms a clear
tincture which becomes milky on the addition of water. When distilled whether with water or alcohol, it affords an essential oil upon which its odor and taste depend. It is ranked among the gum resins.
It is one of the best antispasmodics in hysteria, hypochondria, infantile convulsions and flatulent colic, convulsions of various kinds, spasms of the stomach and bowels unconnected with inflammation, and those numerous irregular and spasmodic nervous disorders which accompany derangement of the different organs or result from mere debility of the nervous system, restlessness, nervous irritability, insomnia, and has been most successfully used in spasmodic asthma, double vision, spermatorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and gastric irritation.
In congestion or inflammation of the brain, double vision, and meningitis, a useful antispasmodic is made as follows: mix together 1 dr. each powdered asafoetida, powdered valerian root, and 10 gr. powdered capsicum and fill into #4 capsules.
Its expectorant property is highly useful in spasmodic and pectoral affections such as whooping cough, asthma, croup, colds, bronchial troubles, infantile coughs and catarrhs complicated with disorders of the nervous system, debility, measles, catarrh, and in pulmonary consumption; in fact in all cases of diseases of the chest in which the lungs do not perform properly asafoetida may be taken to advantage.
In typhoid disease attended with excessive accumulation of air in the bowels or in the case of tympanitic abdomen, an enema may be of benefit. This may be found most convenient, also, in hysteric paroxysms and other kinds of convulsions.
Asafoetida may be combined with purgative medicines in constipation of the bowels with flatulence.
Dissolved and used as an enema in the evening, asafoetida will influence the bowels and the pelvic nerves if retained throughout the night. This is an excellent method to be used for the hysterical and the habitually nervous. The whole system will feel its effect, and by morning, the nerves will be thoroughly quieted. Mix 1/2 to 2 dr. in 4 oz. tepid water.
A syrup may be made by thoroughly mixing 1 oz. of the gum in boiling water, adding 2# sugar and enough water to fill 1 pt.
As asafoetida is not apt to affect the brain injuriously, it may
be taken very freely when not contraindicated by the existence of inflammatory action.
The tincture is official and is frequently used.
The medium dose is 10 gr. in pill or emulsion.
It seems impossible to cover either the taste or smell of this gum, and for this reason, it is frequently given in pill or capsule form.