Source and Composition. A fetid gum-resin obtained by incision from the living root of Ferula foetida, an Afghan plant of the nat. ord. Umbelliferae. Its principal constituent is a Sulphuretted Volatile Oil, which chiefly consists of Allyl Sulphide. It also contains a Gum and a Resin, with Feruliac, Malic, Acetic, Formesic and Valerianic Acids.
- Tinctura Asafoetidae,—strength 20 per cent.,—Dose ʒss-ij.
- Emulsum Asafoetidae, Emulsion of Asafetida, Milk of Asafetida,—strength 4 per cent, in water. Dose, ℥ss-ij.
- Pilulae Asafoetidae,—Dose, j-iv.
- Pilulae Aloës et Asafoetidae,—j-iv.
Physiological Action. Asafetida is a powerful anti-spasmodic, a nerve and cerebral stimulant, a stimulating expectorant; as well as tonic, laxative, diuretic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, aphrodisiac and anthelmintic. Its taste and odor are very nauseous and persistent. In small doses continued it is said to cause impaired digestion, alliaceous eructations, acridity in the fauces, gastralgia, flatulent distention, fetid flatus, burning urination, diarrhoea and tenesmus. Full doses produce various phenomena of nervous or hysterical type.
It stimulates the circulation by raising the arterial tension, increasing the power of the cardiac motor ganglia, and relaxing the inhibition. It also stimulates the brain, even to a very pleasant intoxication, and produces a subjective sensation of warmth without any rise of the body temperature. It stimulates the secretions and excretions, the general nervous system, the menstrual flow and the sexual appetite. In Asia it is used as a condiment with food, and though extremely nauseous at first to most people, a taste for it may be readily acquired.
Therapeutics. The disgust which most every one feels for this agent makes its use very restricted. It is a valuable remedy in—
- Flatulent Colic of infants,—the Emulsion in teaspoonful doses.
- Infantile Convulsions,—the Emulsion as an enema is extremely useful.
- Hysteria and Hypochondriasis, with indigestion and flatulence,-there is no better remedy to fulfill all the indications present.
- Constipation, and amenorrhoea, in anaemic subjects, with ovarian and intestinal torpor,—the Pill of Aloës and Asafetida.
- Bronchial Affections, cough of habit, etc.,—there is no better remedy.
- Chronic Catarrhs, with cough and dyspnoea,—combined with the Chloride of Ammonium it makes a very useful remedy.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.