While research is limited, asafoetida may offer a few health benefits.
Good source of antioxidants
Asafoetida has been found to be a good source of antioxidants (1, 5, 6).
These compounds help protect your cells against potential damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. As a result, antioxidants may also help protect against chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes (7, 8).
Specifically, asafoetida has been shown to contain high amounts of phenolic compounds, such as tannins and flavonoids, which are known for their potent antioxidant effects (6, 9).
While test-tube and animal studies have found asafoetida to exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, more research needs to be done on its potential antioxidant effects in humans (5, 10).
Additionally, as asafoetida is used in such small amounts in cooking, it’s unclear whether culinary use of the spice provides these benefits.
May be good for digestion
One of the most common uses of asafoetida is as an indigestion aid (1).
In one 30-day study including 43 adults with moderate to severe indigestion, those taking 250-mg capsules containing asafoetida twice a day reported significant improvements in bloating, digestion, and overall quality of life, compared with a placebo group (11).
This study was funded by the company that produced the supplement, so that may have influenced the results.
Asafoetida has also been shown to help boost digestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes. Specifically, it may increase the release of bile from your liver, which is needed for digesting fat (1, 12).
While the spice is also frequently used to prevent or reduce gas after eating, no research currently supports this effect.
May help reduce symptoms of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive condition that’s characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, and gas, as well as constipation, diarrhea, or both (13).
Due to its potential effects on digestion, asafoetida is thought to help reduce symptoms associated with IBS.
Two small studies in adults with IBS found a significant improvement in reported IBS symptoms after 2 weeks of taking asafoetida supplements. Yet, another study found that this supplement had no effect on IBS symptoms (14).
Overall, the available research is quite limited.
However, one less direct way that asafoetida may benefit people with IBS is as a substitute for onion and garlic in cooking, as it offers a similar flavor.
Onion and garlic contain high amounts of fructans, which are indigestible, fermentable carbs that may cause digestive distress in some individuals with IBS (15, 16, 17).
Other possible benefits
While studies on asafoetida are limited, early research suggests that it may have additional benefits, including:
- Antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects. Test-tube studies have found that asafoetida may protect against pathogens, such as various strains of Streptococcus bacteria (1, 18, 19).
- May help lower blood pressure. Asafoetida may help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. However, research is limited to animals (1, 20).
- Potential anticancer effects. Animal and test-tube studies suggest that asafoetida may help stop the growth and spread of certain cancer cells, including breast and liver cancer (1, 21, 22).
- May protect brain health. Several animal studies have indicated that asafoetida may help safeguard against memory loss and nerve damage in the brain (23, 24).
- May ease asthma symptoms. Animal studies have shown asafoetida to have a relaxing effect on airway smooth muscles, which is important for the treatment of asthma (25, 26, 27).
- May lower blood sugar levels. One study in rats found that 22.7 mg of asafoetida extract per pound (50 mg per kg) of body weight helped reduce fasting blood sugar levels (1, 4).
While these animal and test-tube studies may be promising, human research is lacking.
It’s also worth noting that these studies use a concentrated form of asafoetida rather than the amounts typically used when cooking. As a result, culinary uses of the spice may have minimal effects.
Asafoetida is rich in antioxidants and may provide multiple benefits, particularly for digestive health. However, further research in humans is necessary.