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. It is named after its adverse smell (foetidus being the Latin equivalent of fetid and the asa refering to how it is an oleoresin), 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.
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). 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
Carbohydrates (67.8% of weight)
Proteins (4% of weight)
Dietary fats (1.1% of weight)
Dietary minerals (7.0% of weight)
Dietary fiber (4.1% of weight)
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:
2-butyl propenyl disulfide (E and Z isomers) and Diallyl disulfide as odorous compounds
(2E)-3,4-dimethoxycinnamyl-3-(3,4 diacetoxyphenyl) acrylate
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):
(Z)-1-propenyl sec-butyl disulfide (8-27%)
γ-eudesmol (undetectable to 3.5%)
guaiol (undetectable to 3.0%)
agarospiral (undetectable to 3.0%)
limonene (undetectable to 2.9%)
α-phellandrene (undetectable to 2.9%)
1,2-Dithiolane (undetectable to 18.64%)
5-epi-7-epi-α-eudesmol (undetectable to 2.1%)
α-eudesmol (undetectable to 4.5%)
β-eudesmol (undetectable to 1.1%)
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.
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
There are some vinyl disulfides present in ferula asafoetida appeared to activate TRPA1 channels.
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.
Isolated compounds in this plant appear to possess acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties 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.
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.
200-400mg/kg of the gum extract taken acutely (two doses) does not appear to influence circulating cholesterol in rats 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).
Ferulsinaic acid has been noted to reduce rate of protein glycosylation in C. Elegans 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 while urinary advanced glycemic end products (AGEs; formed from protein glycosylation) were dose dependently reduced with the 1000ng/kg group being lower than control.
Ferulsinaic acid, based on preliminary evidence, appears to be remarkably potent at preventing protein glycosylation
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. 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).
Ferulsinaic acid has also been noted to effectively normalize antioxidant enzymes (SOD, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) in diabetic kidney tissue at 250-500ng/kg and against at 500-1000ng/kg.
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
Asafoetida has failed to significantly alter protein absorption or bioavailability as assessed by sorghum and chickpea and while a single dose of asafoetida (250mg) does not appear to alter any enzymes in the intestines repeated daily ingestion for eight weeks has noted an increase in chymotrypsin activity (trypsin unaffected).
Pancreatic lipase and amylase activity also appear to be stimulated with eight weeks of supplement ingestion in rats, yet phosphatase and sucrase enzymes have been noted to be reduced at the same dose.
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.
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.
Asafoetida is known as a carminative agent, and may reduce flatulence with daily oral ingestion
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.
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.
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) and 400-fold higher than the lowest recorded effective dose (5ng/kg).
The LD50 of the gum extract is greater than 2,000mg/kg bodyweight (10-fold higher than the active dose).
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