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Ferula asafoetida

Ferula foetida (the active oleoresin being called Ferula asafoetida) is a supplement catered towards lung and gastrointestinal health, and is used as a carminative agent. It may also have benefits to cognition and usage as an aphrodisiac.

Our evidence-based analysis on ferula asafoetida features 18 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Ferula asafoetida

1Sources and Composition


Ferula foetida (of the family Apiaceae) is a plant whose oleoresin (referred to as ferula asafoetida) comes from Ayurveda medicine as well as some other traditional medicines in the middle-eastern regions.[1] It is named after its adverse smell (foetidus being the Latin equivalent of fetid and the asa refering to how it is an oleoresin[1]), and despite the adverse smell it is reported to have a taste that is bitter and pungent while being light, sharp, unctuous and hot in effect.[1]

Traditional medicinal usages of the plant include the treatment of lung conditions such as whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis as well as some intestinal conditions (mostly against worms).[1] In some other instances, it is used as an antiepileptic, antispasmodic, and aphrodisiac compound.

Ferula asafoetida is a plant of which its medicinal component, the oleoresin, is used for the treatment of epilepsy and intestinal spasms and may also confer protection to the lungs while acting as an aphrodisiac


As a food product, ferula asafoetida usually contains:

  • A 16% moisture content and 297kcal per 100g[1]

  • Carbohydrates (67.8% of weight)[1]

  • Proteins (4% of weight)[1]

  • Dietary fats (1.1% of weight)[1]

  • Dietary minerals (7.0% of weight)[1]

  • Dietary fiber (4.1% of weight)[1]

The overall food component (of which contains the supplemental component as well as a source of calories) is a high percentage of carbohydrates and dietary minerals by weight

With bioactive components of the oleoresin and gum (40-60% and 25% of the plant weight) including:

  • Ferulsinaic acid (rearranged sequesterpene coumarin[2])[3]

  • Ferulic acid[1] at 1.3% of resin[4]

  • 2-butyl propenyl disulfide (E and Z isomers) and Diallyl disulfide as odorous compounds

  • Umbelliferone[1]

  • Asaresinotannols[1]

  • Farnesiferols A-C[1][5]

  • Foetidin[4]

  • Kamolonol[4]

  • Luteolin[1]

  • (2E)-3,4-dimethoxycinnamyl-3-(3,4 diacetoxyphenyl) acrylate[6]

The oleoresin/gum tends to contain phenolic compounds based off of ferulic acid and sequesterpenes

And components of the essential oil (4-20% of plant weight including):

  • (E)-1-propenyl sec-butyl disulfide (20.6-40%)[7][8]

  • (Z)-1-propenyl sec-butyl disulfide (8-27%)[7]

  • 10-epi-γ-eudesmol (5.3-15.1%)[7]

  • (Z)-β-ocimene (2.4-7.8%)[7]

  • α-pinene (4.4-21.36%)[7]

  • β-pinene (4.2-47.1%)[7]

  • β-dihydroagarofuran (1.8-4.1%)[7]

  • γ-eudesmol (undetectable to 3.5%)[7]

  • guaiol (undetectable to 3.0%)[7]

  • agarospiral (undetectable to 3.0%)[7]

  • limonene (undetectable to 2.9%)[7]

  • α-phellandrene (undetectable to 2.9%)[7]

  • 1,2-Dithiolane (undetectable to 18.64%)[7]

  • (E)-β-ocimene (1.4-2.9%)[7]

  • 5-epi-7-epi-α-eudesmol (undetectable to 2.1%)[7]

  • α-eudesmol (undetectable to 4.5%)[7]

  • β-eudesmol (undetectable to 1.1%)[7]

  • Camphene (0.03-0.1%)[7]

And it appears that as the plant grows older the above essential oils convert more into α-pinene and β-pinene while others are reduced to nearly undetectable levels.[7]

The essential oil component of ferula asafoetida appears to contain a variety of odorous compounds with a high percentage of these odorous compounds containing sulfur

2Molecular Targets


There are some vinyl disulfides present in ferula asafoetida appeared to activate TRPA1 channels.[9]

Activation of TRPA1 may be a mechanism of action underlying ferula asafoetida, which due to the active components bearing sulfur it may have mechanistic similarity to garlic in this regard



Isolated ferulsinaic acid has been shown to dose-dependently extend the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans (1.93-18.03% increases in mean lifespan and 8.33-41.6% increases in max lifespan) associated with improved heat stress and reduced lipid peroxidation.[3]


4.1Cholinergic Neurotransmission

Isolated compounds in this plant appear to possess acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties[10] and oral ingestion of 200-400mg/kg of the gum extract of ferula asafoetida appears to dose-dependently inhibit acetylcholinesterase activity in the brains of rats (to near 40-60% of baseline), although both with lesser potency than 5mg/kg rivastigmine.[4]

4.2Memory and Learning

200-400mg/kg of ferula asafoetida gum extract to otherwise healthy rats has noted that the higher dose is able to improve memory formation, although relative to the reference drug rivastigmine at 5mg/kg it is weaker.[4]

5Cardiovascular Health


200-400mg/kg of the gum extract taken acutely (two doses) does not appear to influence circulating cholesterol in rats[4] although elsewhere in rats with high cholesterol daily supplementation of 2% asafoetida is able to reduce cholesterol concentrations in the blood (thought to be due to reducing absorption from the intestines).[11]

6Interactions with Glucose Metabolism


Ferulsinaic acid has been noted to reduce rate of protein glycosylation in C. Elegans[3] and 500-1000ng/kg ferulsinaic acid oral therapy for 21 weeks in diabetic rats has been noted to potently reduce the changes in blood glucose, HbA1c, and antioxidant enzymes to near control levels[12] while urinary advanced glycemic end products (AGEs; formed from protein glycosylation) were dose dependently reduced with the 1000ng/kg group being lower than control.[12]

Ferulsinaic acid, based on preliminary evidence, appears to be remarkably potent at preventing protein glycosylation

7Interactions with Organ Systems


Oral ingestion of isolated ferulsinaic acid at 5-500ng/kg daily for 12 weeks in diabetic rats was able to reduce kidney weight (elevated in diabetic rats) to near control levels with a potency slightly greater than Metformin, with similar potency in reducing BUN, urinary proteins, and creatinine.[13] This has been noted elsewhere in the dosage range of 500-1000ng/kg, and as this latter study notes that the LD50 is 2mcg/kg is suggests that the aforementioned study may be a typo (instead using a 5-500mg/kg range).[12]

Ferulsinaic acid has also been noted to effectively normalize antioxidant enzymes (SOD, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) in diabetic kidney tissue at 250-500ng/kg[13] and against at 500-1000ng/kg.[12]

Secondary to its antioxidant effects, ferulsinaic acid (at remarkably low oral doses; a 11mcg human equivalent for a 150lb person) appears to be highly protective of the diabetic kidney

8Interactions with Intestinal Health

8.1Nutrient Absorption

Asafoetida has failed to significantly alter protein absorption or bioavailability as assessed by sorghum and chickpea[14] and while a single dose of asafoetida (250mg) does not appear to alter any enzymes in the intestines[15] repeated daily ingestion for eight weeks has noted an increase in chymotrypsin activity (trypsin unaffected).[15]

Pancreatic lipase and amylase activity also appear to be stimulated with eight weeks of supplement ingestion in rats,[15] yet phosphatase and sucrase enzymes have been noted to be reduced at the same dose.[16]

It appears possible for asafoetida to increase the breakdown rates of protein, fats, and starches while it may attenuate sucrose absorption. Despite this, it has been noted to not increase protein bioavailability


Asafoetida (hot water extract of the dried gum) has been traditionally said to 'expel wind from the stomach' and used as a carminative agent.[1]

When looking at other studies, a concentration of 3mg/mL of the gum resin in the ileum of guinea pigs has been noted to reduce spontanous contractions to 54+/-7% of control and is able to concentration-dependently inhibit contractions induced by acetylcholine, histamine, and potassium chloride.[17]

Asafoetida is known as a carminative agent, and may reduce flatulence with daily oral ingestion

9Interactions with Sexuality

9.1Women's Health

Ferula asafoetida has traditionally been recommended for various women's ailments (sterility, unwanted abortion, pre-mature labor, unusually painful, difficult and excessive menstruation and leucorrhoea) at a dose of 120mg of the dried oleoresin thrice daily.[1]

400mg/kg of the methanolic oleoresin extract daily in rats has been noted to have anti-fertility effects, by preventing pregnancy in 80% of rats over the course of 21 days, which was not due to alterations in estrogen metabolism.[18]

10Safety and Toxicology

The LD50 of isolated ferulsinaic acid appears to be fairly low at 2mcg/kg, which is about two-fold higher than its maximum effective dose (1000ng/kg)[12] and 400-fold higher than the lowest recorded effective dose (5ng/kg).[12]

The LD50 of the gum extract is greater than 2,000mg/kg bodyweight (10-fold higher than the active dose).[4]

While ferulsinaic acid seems to have a pretty low toxicity level, it may be in such miniscule quantities that it doesn't practically matter. The basic gum extract doesn't seem toxic at tested dosages


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Mahendra P, Bisht S. Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity. Pharmacogn Rev. (2012)
  2. ^ Ahmed AA, et al. Ferulsinaic acid, a sesquiterpene coumarin with a rare carbon skeleton from Ferula species. Phytochemistry. (2007)
  3. ^ a b c Sayed AA. Ferulsinaic acid attenuation of advanced glycation end products extends the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Pharm Pharmacol. (2011)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Vijayalakshmi, et al. Evaluation of the effect of Ferula asafoetida Linn. gum extract on learning and memory in Wistar rats. Indian J Pharmacol. (2012)
  5. ^ Lee JH, et al. Herbal compound farnesiferol C exerts antiangiogenic and antitumor activity and targets multiple aspects of VEGFR1 (Flt1) or VEGFR2 (Flk1) signaling cascades. Mol Cancer Ther. (2010)
  6. ^ Abd El-Razek MH. A new ester isolated from Ferula assa-foetida L. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. (2007)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Kavoosi G, Rowshan V. Chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil obtained from Ferula assa-foetida oleo-gum-resin: effect of collection time. Food Chem. (2013)
  8. ^ Comparison of essential oils compositions of Ferula assa-foetida obtained by supercritical carbon dioxide extraction and hydrodistillation methods.
  9. ^ Shokoohinia Y, et al. Some like it pungent and vile. TRPA1 as a molecular target for the malodorous vinyl disulfides from asafoetida. Fitoterapia. (2013)
  10. ^ Kumar P, Singh VK, Singh DK. Kinetics of enzyme inhibition by active molluscicidal agents ferulic acid, umbelliferone, eugenol and limonene in the nervous tissue of snail Lymnaea acuminata. Phytother Res. (2009)
  11. ^ Srinivasan MR, Srinivasan K. Hypocholesterolemic efficacy of garlic-smelling flower Adenocalymma alliaceum Miers. in experimental rats. Indian J Exp Biol. (1995)
  12. ^ a b c d e f Sayed AA. Ferulsinaic acid attenuation of diabetic nephropathy. Eur J Clin Invest. (2013)
  13. ^ a b Sayed AA. Ferulsinaic Acid Modulates SOD, GSH, and Antioxidant Enzymes in Diabetic Kidney. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2012)
  14. ^ Pradeep KU, Geervani P, Eggum BO. Influence of spices on utilization of sorghum and chickpea protein. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. (1991)
  15. ^ a b c Platel K, Srinivasan K. Influence of dietary spices and their active principles on pancreatic digestive enzymes in albino rats. Nahrung. (2000)
  16. ^ Platel K, Srinivasan K. Influence of dietary spices or their active principles on digestive enzymes of small intestinal mucosa in rats. Int J Food Sci Nutr. (1996)
  17. ^ Fatehi M, Farifteh F, Fatehi-Hassanabad Z. Antispasmodic and hypotensive effects of Ferula asafoetida gum extract. J Ethnopharmacol. (2004)
  18. ^ Post-Coital Antifertility Activity of Ferula Assafoetida Extract in Female Rats.