Popular Indian kitchen spice shows indigestion benefits: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / kirisa99
© Getty Images / kirisa99
Supplementation with oleo-gum-resin from Ferula asafoetida, a traditional Indian medicine and popular kitchen spice, may ease dyspepsia-related discomforts, says a new RCT from India.

The double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized study used the Asafin-branded ingredient from Akay Flavours & Aromatics Pvt Ltd, India under its Spiceuticals brand of nutritional ingredients. Thirty days of supplementation indicated that 81% of people with so-called functional dyspepsia experienced significant improvement in overall symptoms.

In addition, 66% of the subjects remained symptoms-free at the end of the study, reported the study’s authors in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine​.

The study is reportedly the first to report the safety and efficacy of the formulation.

“Almost 67% of the subjects in the Asafin group improved the quality of their life with better interest and focus on their daily works from the second week onwards with a significant improvement in bloating, postprandial fullness, food intake, heart burn, constipation, and digestion with no side effects or adverse events as demonstrated by the blood analysis,” ​wrote the authors.


Dyspepsia – more commonly known as indigestion – reportedly affects about 25% of Americans every year. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases​, of the people with indigestion who consult a doctor, almost 75% are diagnosed with functional dyspepsia.

Functional dyspepsia is referred to as “non-ulcer dyspepsia” that causes an upset stomach or pain or discomfort, bloating, early satiety, postprandial fullness, nausea, heartburn, regurgitation, and burping. It usually affects young adults, with women being affected more often than men.

The cause(s) of functional dyspepsia is not clear, but it could be associated with poor eating habits, diet influences, food allergies, westernized lifestyles, medication side effects, psychological factors or excessive acid secretion, all of which can lead to inflammation.

Study details

Researchers from Sri Rama Hospital (Bangalore), Leads Clinical Research & Bio Services (Bangalore), and Akay Flavours & Aromatics recruited 43 people with moderate to severe functional dyspepsia to participate in their study. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive hard-shell capsules of placebo or Asafin (250 mg twice-a-day) for 30 days.

The asafoetida gum is known for its unpleasant organoleptic characteristics and stickiness, so the Asafin formulation uses fenugreek soluble dietary fiber (galactomannans) and water to produce a free-flowing water soluble powder.

“Though the meaning of the Latin word “assa-foetida” itself is “Carrier of bad smell” with its common name as “Devils’ dunk” indicating the degree of unpleasant flavor characteristics of asafoetida oleo-gum-resin, uniform impregnation of the lipophilic gum into the hydrophilic matrix of the dietary fiber was found to provide taste and odor masked Asafin particles suitable for dietary applications,” ​explained the researchers.

Results showed that, while symptoms improved significantly in both the groups, a higher relative percentage of participants in the Asafin group had 80% or more reductions in symptoms, including bloating (58%), appetite (69%), postprandial fullness (74%) motion sickness (75%), and digestion (77%).

In addition, 66% of subjects remained free of symptoms at the end of the study, with 75% reporting significant improvement in their ability and/or interest in daily activities. 

Greater synthetic drug use in the placebo group

“The present randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blinded pilot study employed Asafin containing about 42% (w/w) asafoetida-gum-oleo-resin formulated with debitterized fenugreek powder rich in soluble dietary fiber, so that each 250 mg capsules of Asafin provided 90 ± 5 mg of asafoetida-gum,” ​explained the researchers.

“When supplementing two capsules per day (180±10 mg of asafoetida gum/day), the subjects with moderate to severe [functional dyspepsia] symptoms were found to have significant reduction in the gut disorders with an improvement in the quality of life as compared to placebo.

“While the [functional dyspepsia] symptoms were rated with well-validated symptoms scores scales (GSRS, GDSS, and NDI), 69% of the subjects reported to have significant reduction in symptoms scores with 87% of the subjects reporting no usage of synthetic drugs during the study period, as compared to the placebo group where 61% of the subjects reported the repeated use of synthetic drugs during the course of the study.”

Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2018, Article ID 4813601, doi: 10.1155/2018/4813601
“Safety and Efficacy of ​Ferula asafoetida in Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study”
Authors: K.N. Mala, et al.

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