Chinese scientists Fang-Rong Chang and Yang-Chang Wu of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan said that the plant, which produces yellow flowers in large numbers, grows mainly in the countries of Iran, Afghanistan and the Chinese territory.
Its potential use as a preventive component against the flu is not new. During the influenza pandemic of 1918, which took the lives of 20 to 100 million people, the Spanish used it as a remedy to fight the virus.
However, it was not until this study that the potential antiviral capabilities naturally produced by this plant were found.
Chang and Wu identified a group of chemical components in the plant's extracts showing a heightened capability against Influenza A (H1N1). Furthermore, its potential effects seem to be more effective than the antiviral medications currently available to treat this type of flu.
“In general, this study determined that [of the byproducts of] the asafetida may be used as components to develop a new medication against the viral infection of Influenza A (H1N1),” both study leaders stated.
Other uses of asafetida in traditional and natural medicine in different regions around the world include various remedies for the treatment of illnesses of the nervous system such as hysteria, digestive problems and bronchial diseases, as well as for the treatment of intestinal parasites.
Boiled asafetida has a pleasant onion flavor, while raw asafetida is characterized by a pungent odor for which it has been given curious names in different languages. In English and Spanish, it is known as “Devil's Dung.”