This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
A gum-resin obtained from the root of Ferula foetida (Bunge) Regel (nat. ord. Umbelli/erae).
Persia, Turkestan and Afghanistan.
In irregular masses composed of whitish tears, which are imbedded in a yellowish-gray or brownish-gray, sticky mass. The tears, when hard, break with a conchoidal fracture, showing a milk-white color, which changes, gradually, on exposure, to pink, and finally to brown. It has a persistent, alliaceous odor, and a bitter alliaceous acrid taste.
The chief constituents are - (1) A volatile oil, 5 per cent., the most important ingredient of which is Allyl sulphide(see p. 455). This gives Asafetida its very unpleasant odor. (2) Gum, 25 per cent. (3) Bas-sorin resin, 65 per cent., which contains Ferulaic Acid, C10H10O4.
Earthy matter or Calcium Sulphate and Carbonate, and sand.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl. oz.; 15. to 30. c.c.
2. Pilulae Aloes et Asafoetidae. - See Aloes, p. 497.
3. Pilulae Asafoetidae. - Pills of Asafetida. Asafetida, 20; Soap, 60 gm.; to make 100 pills. Each pill contains 3 gr.; .20 gm. of Asafetida.
Dose, 1 to 4 pills.
4. Tinctura Asafoetidae. - Tincture of Asafetida. Asafetida, 200. By maceration with Alcohol, and filtration to 1000.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl. dr.; 2. to 4. c.c.
Both internally and externally, asafetida, in virtue of its volatile oil, acts like volatile oils generally. Its action as a stimulant to the intestinal muscle is especially well marked, hence it is combined with aloes in Pilulae Aloes et Asafoetidae; and the enema, 1 to 64 of water, will relieve flatus. Owing to its containing allyl sulphide it is extremely unpleasant, and therefore it is not, like many volatile oils, available as a condiment. Its taste is credited with some mental effect in cases of hysteria.
Asafetida is not used externally. Internally it is prescribed to aid the action of other purgatives, and also to stimulate the muscular coat to expel flatus. It may be given by the mouth or as an enema. Partly on account of its reflex stimulating effect, but also on account of its very unpleasant taste, it is used to control hysteria, emotional, and other mental disturbances, but it often fails. For this purpose it may be combined with valerian. Cases of malingering may sometimes be cured by making the patient take, three times a day, an effervescing draught containing a few drops of each of the tinctures of valerian and asafetida, with some mucilage to suspend the precipitated resin. The effervescence makes the unpleasant taste of these medicines "repeat" in the mouth for some time after taking them. Asafetida oil would in the course of its excretion disinfect the urine and the expectoration, but its smell forbids its use for these purposes.