Asafoetida -the unpredictable hysterical journey

Dr M Padmashree

 Ferula assafoetida or Devil’s Dung is the commom name of Asafoetida. It belongs to natural order of Umbelliferae, the carrot and hemlock family.

Name Ferula derives from ferire, to strike – the stems were formerly used for punishment;

Asa – derives from the Persian aza, mastic, a pale yellow gum;

Foetida – refers to its overwhelming odour which has given rise to its popular name, Devil’s Dung.

Asafoetida consists of mainly three portions including gum (25%), resin (40 – 64%) and essential oil (10 – 17%)

The resin portions contains coumarins, sesquiterpene coumarins, and ferulic acid; its ester and other terpenoids

The gums include rhamnose, glucose, arabinose, galactose, glucuronic acid, polysaccharides and glycoprotein

Volatile fraction contains monoterpenes, sulphur containing compounds, and other volatile terpenoids

Intoxication symptoms include swollen lips, gastric burning, garlicky eructations, flatulence, diarrhoea, burning during urination, headaches, dizziness, and even convulsions. Since it is reputed to affect the menstrual cycle and to be an abortifacient, its use in pregnancy and lactation is to be avoided. [However, it is also drunk as a herbal tea to increase milk production in lactating women.]

Asafoetida has been consumed as a spice and a folk medicine for centuries

Recent experiments have shown that it has shown several promising activities particularly relaxant, neuroprotective, memory enhancing, digestive enzyme, antioxidant, antispasmodic, hypotensive, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, anticytotoxicity, antiobesity and antihelminthic effects

Asafoetida was introduced in Homoeopathic Materia Medica by Franz in 1822 and Hahnemann himself contributed to the proving. Medicine is prepared from tincture of the gum resin (obtained by incision from the living root)

Asafoetida is suitable for fat, flabby persons, extremely nervous, extremely sensitive to pain, full of hysteria. Purple when out in the cold and when excited. They do not have a strong constitution, and the pathology will run soon to the deeper regions like their central and peripheral nervous system. Asafoetida is mostly connected with deep syphilitic cases.


The central idea of Asafoetida is unsteadiness, changeability or an unpredictable behaviour

Asafoetida people are super-sensitive individuals, easily excited for insignificant reasons, nervous and OVERSENSITIVE. This over exitability progresses into HYSTERIA – like symptoms after suppression of emotions, eruptions or discharges.


  • Mind – Sensitive
  • Mind – Excitement, excitable
  • Mind – Excitement, excitable – nervous
  • Mind – Excitement, excitable – ailments from, emotional
  • Mind – Excitement, excitable – suppression of excretion, from
  • Mind – Anxiety general – Hysterical
  • Mind – Hysterical behaviour
  • Mind – Hysterical behaviour – suppression of, discharges, after

Hysterical rising in throat, as if a ball or large body ascended from stomach to oesophagus, or even pharynx, obliging him repeatedly to attempt to swallow it, causing difficulty in breathing. Globus hystericus. There are hiccough like contractions of the diaphragm.

Mind – Hysteria – globus hystericus

Sensation as if the peristaltic motion was reversed in oesophagus and the food, instead of going down, came upwards, drawn from the stomach up towards the throat.

Throat – Reversed, peristaltic action of oesophagus

The patient may start having nervous headaches of a hysterical nature. Hysterical or nervous behaviour, consisting of unintelligible speech, frequent rhythmic motions in arms and legs, constant chewing, convulsions, chorea or even paralysis

Extremities – Chorea

Laughing alternating with shrieking. Spasmodic laughter. Fits of joy with bursts of laughter.

  • Mind – Laughing, general, hysterical
  • Mind – Laughing, general – alternating with – screaming
  • Mind – Laughing, general – cries, and, by turns
  • Mind – Joy, ailments from excessive – fits of joy with bursts of laughter

FAINTNESS comes easily on many occasions in these excitable people. Even the thought of taking a drug, brings on faintness. Patients may suffer fits of faintness in a closed room, a crowded room or street, from intestinal colic, or even after having sex. Faintness is also brought on during or before a meal, because of overexcitement or after a noise, from pain or from reading or from sleeping on the left side. Fits of faintness with trembling. The faintness is ameliorated by deep breathing

Generals – Faintness – hysterical

They are also afraid of being alone, of being in a crowd, of evil. They have a desire for company. But even in company, if they do not partake in conversation, and if their attention is not diverted they feel uncomfortable, apprehensive and discontented.

  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – alone, of being
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – solitude, of
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – crowd, in a
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – evil, of
  • Mind – Discontented, dissatisfied
  • Mind – Agony, anguish

They are FICKLE MINDED, INCONSISTENT and WEAK WILLED – irresolute. They keep to themselves all the turmoil that is going on around them involving their social, professional and erotic life, until one day they cannot tolerate the pressures anymore and that if pushed a little further by adverse circumstances the Asafoetida patient will BREAK DOWN. They do not have the stamina or the inclination to persevere in anything.

  • Mind – Will, general – weakness, of will
  • Mind – Perseverance – has none
  • Mind – Unsteady
  • Mind – Changeable, fickle
  • Mind – Capricious
  • Mind – Indecision, irresolution
  • Mind – Heedless

Their EMOTIONAL STATE is never steady, they are CHANGEABLE, fitful, capricious, wanting one thing one moment, and another the next.

One moment sad, depressed and indifferent; the next excited and joyful. ALTERNATING MOODS. Suddenly they may remember something that hurt them in the past, and burst into a FIT OF GRIEF; some other time they may remember something that made them happy which can send them into a state of HYSTERICAL  JOY.


  • Mind – Moods, general – alternating
  • Mind – Moods, general – changeable, variable
  • Mind – Grief, feelings – fits, of grief
  • Mind – Crying, weeping – alternating with – laughter

In the same way, the senses can be either very acute or very dull. Ill-humour can be a characteristic of Asafoetida, with an intolerance of contradiction. They can easily be angered and quarrelsome; at other times, however, they can also be very placid.

  • Mind – Contradiction, is intolerant of
  • Mind – Depression, sadness
  • Mind – Complaining
  • Mind – Anger, general
  • Mind – Lamenting, wailing
  • Mind – Quarrelsome

These patients are very RESTLESS and HYPOCHONDRIACAL people. Little things tend to bother them a lot and their anxiety and concern is great.

Mind – Anxiety, general – hypochondriasis

Mind – Hypochondriasis

Mind – Sensitive, general – pain, to

Anxiety arising from the stomach or the abdomen or because of some pain or discomfort in this area. Anxiety, anguish or even FEAR OF DEATH after eating are characteristic.

  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – death, of
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – death, of – impending death, of
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – stomach, arising from

With palpitations or heart symptoms they can develop fear of death. DEPRESSION after eating, depression from pressure about chest; they may even have a SUICIDAL DISPOSITION.

  • Mind – Depression, sadness – pressure about chest, from
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – death, of – heart symptoms, during
  • Mind – Suicidal depression
  • Mind – Suicidal depression – desire for

Another fear that keeps bothering them is a fear of paralysis or softening of the brain

  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – paralysis, of
  • Mind – Fear, general, phobias – softening, of the brain

EASY EXCITABILITY is evident even in their sexuality. Their vivid imagination causes them to fall in love easily. Due to such behaviour they may appear to be fickle, FLIRTING all the time. They do not keep steady relationships for any length of time. NYMPHOMANIA in women.

  • R: Mind – Sexual, Behaviour – excesses, mental symptom from
  • R: Mind – Sexual, Behaviour – nymphomania, women

There is exceptional CLEARNESS OF MIND with excitability, a lot of clear ideas, with a very good and very active memory. Absent minded and have difficulty in concentration; difficulty in thinking and comprehending.


  • R: Mind – Memory, general, active
  • R: Mind – Ideas, general ,abundant
  • R: Mind – Consciousness, general – very clear

State of CONFUSION. Aversion to any mental work ensues. Mental symptoms are aggravated from reading or writing. Weak memory. INDIFFERENCE AND APATHY.


  • R: Mind – Stupefaction, mental
  • R: Mind – Dullness, mental
  • R: Mind – Reading, agg, symptoms from
  • R: Concentration, general – difficult
  • R: Mind – Ideas, general – deficiency, of
  • R: Mind – Indifference, apathetic
  • R: Mind – Confusion, mental


Hysteria from suppression of habitual discharge like diarrhoea, menses or skin affection

Deep ulceration with foetid discharges and a threatening septicemia, an excitable ulcer that spreads fast, or a stagnation in an ulcer that develops into a passive malignancy, diminished flow of blood to the area due to a venous stasis.

Watery and bloody discharges from deep ulcers that are horribly offensive. Pains < night

Discharges – thin, horribly offensive and ichorous

  • Deregulation of the milk flow in women, for example when a flow of milk appears in non pregnant women or when the milk supply in nursing women diminishes, and especially when the flow suddenly becomes scanty and the milk is thin, poor, and has a bluish tinge.
  • Globus hystericus, feels as if ball ascends from stomach to oesophagus
  • An empty all gone sensation in the stomach at 11 am with strange pulsation in the pit of stomach
  • Flatulency with excessive distention of abdomen and sensation as if persistaltic motion were reversed with eructations smelling like garlic
  • Neuralgic pains after amputation


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  3. Farrington EA. Lectures on Clinical Materia Medica. B. Jain Publishers; 1999.
  4. Hering C. The guiding symptoms of our materia medica. Estate of Constantine Hering; 1890.
  5. Murphy R. Homeopathic clinical repertory. Homeopathy in Practice. 2006:57.
  6. Schroyens F. Synthesis Repertory 7.1. In: 1998. B Jain.
  7. Vithoulkas G. Materia medica viva. In Materia medica viva 1995. Homeopathic book.
  8. Vermeulen Prisma

Dr. M. Padmashree
MD Part 2, Department Of Materia Medica
Under the guidance of Dr.Renuka.S.Patil,HOD, Department of Materia Medica
Government Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru
Email –

1 Comment

  1. Very good work on Asafoetida, partricularly gathering Rubrics along with other information and very much useful for practitioners.

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