Asafoetida Biological Sources, Formation, Sources, Chemical Constitution, Identification Test, Adulterants and Uses

Asafoetida Biological Sources, Formation, Sources, Chemical Constitution, Identification Test, Adulterants and Uses



Hing, Ferula

Biological source :-

It is an oleo gum resin obtained from the roots of Ferul afoetida Regel, F. Rubricaulis Boissier.



Geographical source:-

These plants are large and grow in Afganistan, Persia and Central

Collection and Preparation:-

  • There are numerous large schizogenous ducts which are filled with whitish, gummy resinous emulsion in the cortex of the stem and root. After about five years the roots has stored sufficient reserve and is about thick at the crown.
  • In the end of March, the stems close to the crown are cut off.
  • The exudate flows out from the cut surface and hardened. The cut surface which oozes out the exudates is covered with dome like covering of sticks and leaves.
  • The hardened gum resin is scrapped off after few weeks and again a cut is made to allow the juice to flow out. This process is repeated many times with a time interval of about ten days until the plant ceases to produce latex.
  • The yield is about 1000 gm per plant.
  • The collected drug is dried properly, packed in tin containers and marketed.


Forms: Paste, tear (pure form) and mass bulk (block or lump).

Shape: Tears are separate, rounded or flattened.

Size: 0.5-4 cm in diameter.

Colour: Dull yellow or dingy grey colour which changes into reddish brown on storage.

Odour: Intense, penetrating, persistent, alliaceous smell.

Taste: Bitter, acrid and alliaceous.

Mass asafoetida consist of tears agglutinated into less uniform mass and mixed withextraneous substances like stones, earthy matter, calcium carbonate and root slices etc.

Chemical Constituents:-

  • The main constituents are volatile oil (10-17%), resin (40-65%) and gum (1.5-10%).
  • Resin consists of resene (asaresene A) and volatile oil. It also contains 1.5 percent of free ferulic acid and 16 percent of unstable ester of ferulic acid with asaresinol.
  • Volatile oil contains pinene and various disulphides (C7H14S2, C11H20S2, C10H16S2). Ferulic acid yields umbellic acid, when it is treated with hydrochloric acid, loses water molecule and forms umbelliferone.
  • Free umbelliferone is absent in asafoetida.

Chemical Test:-

1. Reddish brown colour develops upon addition of sulphuric acid on fractured surface
of drug.
2. A yellowish orange emulsion forms when asafoetida is triturated with water.
3. When drug is treated with nitric acid green colour appears.
4. Take 0.5 gm of drug and triturate it with sand and hydrochloric acid, add little
quantity of water and filter it. To the filtrate add ammonia blue fluorescence develops which shows the presence of umbelliferone.


It is a powerful nervine tonic, used in the treatment of Hysteria, bowel stimulant, expel flatulence, relieves constipation and flavouring agent.

Allied Drug:-

  • Galbanum (Ferula galbaniflua) is an oleo gum resin used as allied drug.
  • The distinction between galbanum and asafoetida is the presence of free umbelliferone.
  • Galbanum contains free umbelliferone whereas asafoetida does not contain umbelliferone in free form.
  • Asafoetida is also adulterated with red clay, wheat flour, chalk and gum acacia.


1. Asafoetida belong to family

A. Solanaceae

B. Umbelliferae

C. Liliaceae

D. Combretaceae

2. Which of the following is allied drug of asafoetida ?

A. Colchicum

B. Ephedra

C. Galbanum

D. Xanthine

3. Which of the following is uses of asafoetida ?

A. Nervine tonic

B. Relieves in constipation

C. Flavouring agent

D. All of the above

4. H2SO4+ asafoetida =

A. Yellow colour

B. Green colour

C. Red colour

D. Blue Colour

5. HNO3 + asafoetida powder = 

A. Green colour

B. Red colour

C. Orange colour

D. Yellow colour

6. On hydrolysis of ferulic which product is produced ?

A. Umbellic acid

B. Umbelliferone

C. Pinene

D. Shagol

7.  Asafoetida yield per plant is 

A. 1500 gm

B. 1000 gm

C. 2000 gm

D. 2500 gm

8. Which of the following is false sentence about asafoetida ?

A. It has dull yellow colour which change in reddish colour during storage.

B. It has 0.54 cm in diameter.

C. Asafoetida has Liquid form.

D. Tears are separated, rounded or flattened.

9.  Diameter of asafoetida is 

A. 0.12 cm

B. 0.54 cm

C. 0.34 cm

D. 0.22 cm

10. Which of the following is synonym of asafoetida ?

A. Ginger

B. Hing

C. Ferua


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Answer Key :-

1. B

2. C

3. D

4. C

5. A

6. A

7. B

8. C

9. B

10. D

Reference :-

16 Edition of Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy Text Book ( Pg. No. :- 299 )

Biological activities and medicinal properties of Asafoetida: A review

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