Taste (Rasa): Pungent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Balancing Vata and Kapha

Benefits & Use: This potent-smelling spice is commonly used in Persian and Indian cooking for flavoring, food preservation and fragrance. From a nutritional perspective, asafetida provides calcium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, carotene and riboflavin to our diets. It has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-flatulent properties that help alleviate problems like indigestion, upset stomach, intestinal gas, intestinal worms, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It also acts as a respiratory stimulant, which is very useful in relieving chest congestion and releasing phlegm (see recipe below). Asafetida boosts progesterone secretion and promotes smooth blood flow, and thus provides relief from irregular menstruation and cramping.

Additional Uses: Antiseptic; relief for toothache and headache; worm repellent; reduces fine lines, wrinkles, age spots

In the Kitchen: Asafoetida is commonly used in Indian savory dishes, often to add a more full flavor by mimicking the taste of onions, garlic and egg. While on its own it’s smell can be overpowering and somewhat unpleasant, this dissipates when introduced to hot oil or butter.  Asafoetida compliments most commonly-used Indian vegetables: potatoes, onions, cauliflower, peas, and quick-cooking greens and is best used as a background note for other complimentary spices, like cumin, mustard seeds, dried chiles, curry leaves, ginger, and garlic. It is available at any Indian grocery and is generally sold pre-ground. A pinch or two per dish is sufficient so the smallest container goes a long way. Note: Keep it very well sealed jar lest your whole cabinet smell!

Recipe: Asafoetida-Ginger Tea (Respiratory Relief)

  • In a glass of warm water, mix together one-half teaspoon of both asafetida powder and dry ginger powder with two tablespoons of honey.
  • Have this mixture at least three times a day for relief from a dry cough, whooping cough, bronchitis and asthma.

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.