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Asafoetida (Ferula fetida).

Related entries: Ferula sumbul

A gum-resin derived from the rhizome and rootlets of Ferula Asafetida, Linné; Ferula foetida, Regel, and other species of Ferula (Nat. Ord. Umbelliferae). Persia and other parts of Western Asia. Dose, 1 to 10 grains.
Common Names: Asafetida, Gum Asafetida.

Principal Constituents.—A volatile oil and a bitter resin to both of which its virtues are mostly due; also gum. The unpleasant odor is due to the presence in the oil of allyl sulphide chiefly.
Preparations.—1. Emulsum Asafoetidae, Emulsion of Asafetida (Milk of Asafetida). Dose, 1 fluidrachm to 1 fluidounce.
2. Tinctura Asafoetidae, Tincture of Asafetida. Dose, 5 to 30 drops.
Specific Indications.—"Nervous irritation, with mental depression, headache, and dizziness; hysteroidal conditions; convulsive disorders from purely functional wrongs of the stomach, gastro-intestinal irritation, with flatulence and palpitation of the heart; dry, deep, choking bronchial cough" (American Dispensatory).

Action.—Asafetida is a general excitant causing quickened breathing and heart-action, genito-urinary irritation, increased sexual desire, and mucous feces. It also increases the bronchial secretion. In overdoses it may cause dizziness and headache.

Therapy.—Asafetida is carminative and antispasmodic, and is a very useful nervine for functional spasmodic affections. It is especially adapted to neurotic individuals subject to hysterical or emotional attacks, usually attended by flatulent distention of the abdomen. In gastric discomfort with flatulence and nervous excitability, and in the flatulent colic of children and flatus due to intestinal indigestion of old persons, asafetida is extremely satisfactory. Tympanites occurring during fevers is often relieved by it, for its carminative influence is especially effective upon the lower bowel. Owing to its expectorant qualities it is occasionally serviceable in the bronchitis of the aged, in which secretion is free but the power to expectorate is weak. It is also an ideal sedative for the nervous cough following the active stage of whooping cough. It relieves the nervous irritability of dentition. On the whole asafetida is a simple and efficient remedy best adapted to disorders with nervous depression, more or less feebleness, and particularly if associated with constipation, flatulence, or tardy or imperfect menstruation. Asafetida is contraindicated by inflammation. It may be given in emulsion, tincture, or pill or capsule.


The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.



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