Ferula asafoetida, Linne, foetida, Regal, and other species. The gum-resin obtained by incising the living rhizomes and roots, yielding not less than 50 p.c. alcohol-soluble extractive, and not more 15 p.c. acid-insoluble ash.

Habitat. Persia, Turkestan, Afghanistan; mountain slopes, barren desolate wastes, sandy deserts.

Syn. Asafoet., Gum Asafetida, Devil's Dung (Stercus Diaboli), Food of the Gods (Cibus Deorum), Gummi-resina Asafoetida; Fr. Asa Foetida; Ger. Asa foetida, Asant, Stinkasant, Teufelsdreck.

Fer'u-la. L. fr. Ferio, ferire, to strike -- i.e., stems used as rods with which, at one time, schoolboys were punished.

Fost'i-da. L. foetidus, fetid, stinking -- i.e., the odor of the plant, and its secretion.

As'a-foet'i-da. L. fr. Pers. Aza, asa, mastic, + L. foetida, fetid, stinking -- stinking mastic -- i.e., its odor, resemblance, and consistency.

Plants

Large perennial herbs; stems 1.5-3 M. (5-10 degrees) high, 2.5-7.5 Cm. (1-3') thick, greenish, erect, furrowed, smooth; leaves few, radical and cauline, mostly near stem's base, .3-.6 M. (1-2 degrees) long and broad, on stout round petioles, 22.5 Cm. (9') long, expanding below into inflated sheath surrounding one-half the stem, imparipinnate, ternately divided, each bipinnate with few pinnae, leaflets few; flowers small, monoecious, yellow; roots conical, 45 Cm. (18') long, 10-15 Cm.( 4-6') thick, branched, dark brown, internally whitish. GUM-RESIN (asafetida), in soft mass, semi-liquid, irregular pliable masses composed of agglutinated tears of variable size imbedded in yellowish-brown matrix, or in loose ovoid tears, 1-4 Cm. (2/5-1 3/5') broad, surface often with streaks of violet, yellowish-red brownish, few vegetable fragments; soft or touch (fresh), hard even brittle (dry); fresh fractured surface of tears milky-white and opaque, changing gradually on exposure to pinkish, reddish-purple; tears moistened with water--milky-white; odor persistent, alliaceous; taste bitter, alliaceous, acrid.

Powder

light brown. Tests: 1. Triturate with water (3) -- milk-white emulsion, yellowish with alkalies. 2. Heat tear with sulphuric acid -- reddish-brown solution, which diluted with water, filtered, + excess of alkali -- blue fluorescent solution, more pronounced with excess of ammonia water. 3. Alcohol filtrate (from assay) 10 cc., + few drops of phloroglucinol T.S. + few drops of hydrochloric acid -- cherry-red. 4. Incinerate -- ash 15 (gum-resin)-30 (powder) p.c. 5. Alcoholic filtrate 5 cc., + a few drops of ferric chloride T.S. -- olive green (abs. of most foreign resins); alcoholic filtrate 10 cc., + hydrochloric acid until faint turbidity -- bluish-green, fading on standing (abs. of galbanum). 6. Emulsion 2 cc. + water 5, + sodium hypobromite T.S. (5) to form separate layer -- no red color (abs. of ammoniac). Impurities: Foreign resins, ammoniac, galbanum, rosin, etc. Solvent: alcohol. Dose, gr. 3-10 (.2-.6 Gm.).

Adulterations

Divisible into 4 groups: 1, plant's tissues (insoluble in alcohol); 2, local associated gums; 3, earthy substances (ash, alcohol-insoluble residue); 4, turpentine products. Although some of these are added after reaching Europe, most of the adulterating occurs in its native country at Herat, before being conveyed to Bombay, where are used red clay (tawah), sand, stones, wheat or barley flour, gypsum, calcium carbonate, calcium sulphate, cloth, bristles, wood, rosin, resins, translucent gums -- all amounting sometimes to 60-80 p.c., and yielding an ash of 15-20-40 p.c.; at present rigorously inspected with us so as to comply with official requirements.

Commercial

Asafetida has been known in the East from early times and much studied since 1687; plants endure many years, producing each spring simply a crop of radical leaves but finally a scape with flowers and then die; the oldest are most productive, none being cut until the 5th year. In April, when leaves begin to wither, collection is started by pulling off the leafy stem, laying bare the upper portion of root-stock, 5-7.5 Cm. (2-3') deep, and cutting a slice from the top, whereupon milky juice exudes but is not collected; the fresh exposed surface is protected from the sun's heat by a covering (khora), a crude domed structure several inches high of herbage and twigs, surmounted by clay and stones, save an opening on the north. On returning in about 40 days (May) the cut surface is found covered with a thick, gummy, reddish substance, not milky but in more or less irregular lumps resembling ordinary asafetida, which is scraped off into cups or leather (kid, goat) bags, and a thin slice of the root removed for fresh exudation -- a process repeated at 10-day intervals until the root perishes or is exhausted (2 months); each subsequent cutting yields a thicker, better juice provided the root be screened properly all the time from the sun. The product from many plants is mixed, further hardened in the sun and forwarded to Herat, whence it enters commerce via Bombay, in skins, mats (80-90 pounds; 36-40.5 Kg.), boxes (200-400 pounds; 91-182 Kg.), and casks. Each root yields 1/2-32 ounces (.015-1 Kg.); the purest, called natively hing (usually soft, transparent, and considered a stem product) is consumed in India, while the mixed, called hingra, alone is exported. It may be powdered when excessively cold, or by drying over freshly burnt lime or exposure to currents of warm air, then reducing at low temperature; starch or magnesium carbonate as a diluent will maintain powdered form. There are four varieties: 1, Amygdaloid (Lumpo), official kind, considered most reliable; 2, Tears, inferior, consisting of various-sized tears (pea, walnut), yellowish, roundish, flattened, oval, irregular-shaped, distinct or adhesive and agglutinated; 3, Stony, various-sized angular or rounded pieces of gypsum and other earthy matters agglutinated or merely coated with the milky juice, and should not be used in medicine; 4, Liquid, white, opaque, syrupy, or semi-fluid mass turning brown with age, possibly the first exudate or due to moist season.

Constituents

Gum 20-30 p.c., Resin 60-70 p.c., Volatile oil 6-9 p.c., vanillin .06 p.c., free ferulic (ferulaic) acid 1.3 p.c., free asaresino-tannol 1 p.c., formic acetic, valeric and malic acids, ash (pure) 3-4 p.c.

Gum. -- Partly soluble in water, the residue (bassorin) dissolves in alkalies, being reprecipitated by acids.

Resin. -- Reddish-brown, amorphous, soluble in ether except 3-4 p.c. It is the ferulic acid ester of asaresino-tannol, and contains ferulic acid, C10H10O4, and resino-tannol, CHO; upon dry distillation yields umbelliferon, CHO, and blue-colored oils; when fused with potassium hydroxide gives resorcin and protocatechuic acid.

Volatile Oil. -- This, to which the odor and stimulating property are due, is obtained by distilling with water or alcohol; sp. gr. 0.980; it is a mixture of several sulphides of ferulyl, (CHS and CHS), two terpenes, (CH and CHO), the latter yielding a sesquiterpene, CH, and a blue-colored oil in the higher boiling portions.

Preparations

1. Emulrum Asafoetidae. Emulsion of Asafetida.  (Syn., Emuls. Asafoet., Milk of Asafetida, Mistura (Lac) Asafoetidae; Fr. Mixture (Lair) d'Asafoetida; Ger. Asafoetidaemulsion, Stinkasantmilch.

Manufacture

4 p.c.  Rub asafetida (tears, selected masses) 4 Gm. In a mortar with water 90 cc., gradually added until uniform emulsion results, strain, rinse mortar and strainer with water q.s. 100 cc., mix thoroughly.  Dose, 3ss-1 (15-30 cc.).

2. Pilulae Asafoetidae.  Pills of Asafetida.  (Syn., Pil. Asafoet.; Fr. Pilules d'Asafetide; Ger. Asafoetidapillen.)

Manufacture: Incorporate intimately asafetida 20 Gm., soap 6 Gm., using water q.s. 100 pills.  Dose, 2-5 pills.

3. Tinctura Asafoetidae.  Tincture of Asafetida.  (Syn., Tr. Asafoet.; Fr. Teinture d'Asefetide; Ger. Tinctura Asae-foetidae, Stinkasanttinktur.)

Manufacture

20 p.c.  Similar to Tinctura Cardamomi Composita, page 137; menstruum: alcohol.  Dose, 3ss-1 (2-4 cc.).

Prep.: 1. Mistura Magnesiae, Asafoetidae et Opii, Dewees' Carminative, N.F., 7.5 p.c.         Dose, 3ss-4 (2-15 cc.).

4. Pilulae Aloes et Asafoetidae, N.F., 1.5 gr. (.09 Gm.).

Unoff. Preps.: Asafoetida Proeparata -- exhaust with alcohol, thereby eliminating gum, evaporate or pour solution into slightly acidulated water, getting resin and volatile oil.  Fetid Spirit of Ammonia (Br.), asafetida 7.5 p.c., stronger ammonia water 10, alcohol q.s.100.  Compound Galbanum Pill.  Enema (1 in 64 water).  Plaster.  Suppositories.

Properties

Similar to other drugs with volatile oils; stimulant, antispasmodic, expectorant, laxative, (emmenagogue, anthelmintic, condiment).

Uses

Hyeteria, hypochondriasis, convulsions, spasms, whooping-cough, measles, asthma, coughs, catarrhs, flatulent constipation, chorea, nervous apoplexy, consumption.  Used in India, Persia, etc., as a condiment, for flavoring food, etc., like garlic and onions; acts here as a stimulant to the bowels and digestion.  The natives value it highly, not only for its agreeable effect, but also for the odor and taste; a tolerance of this latter in most cases is acquired gradually by usage, as at first it is often nauseous and positively disgusting.

Incompatibles

Cerebral and arterial depressants, cold, acids, neutral salts; water with alcoholic liquid preparations.

Synergists

Cerebral excitants, alcohol, ether, gum-resins, balsams, aromatics, volatile oils containing sulphur and phosphorus.  F. Nar'thex (Narthex Asafoetida), U.S.P. 1820-1870, is a plant almost identical with F. Foetida, and from it much gum-resin is collected and sent in with the official, as it is nearly impossible to recognize plant origin by the product.