Friday, June 29, 2012



A few years ago, I had gone for delivery of a brand new stainless steel chemical tankers to Japan. This means , the Captain and Chief Engineer has to stay there for nearly a month.

Bland and insipid Japanese food can get on your nerves after some time.  For the sea-trails a superintendent was coming from Singapore. I told to go to Mohammed Mustafa Super market and get for us some pickles and papadum.

The hotel kitchen used to roast the Papadum for us--and the Norwegian Framo guy, after tasting the papadum and pickle asked me, why I was so eager to get this stuff. 

So I told him, that Indians have been consuming this stuff for 9000 years. It is NOT for taste alone, one of the BASIC ingredients was Kayam (in Malayalam), Hing ( in Sanskrit ) or Asafoetida ( in English ). 

In this post I will talk about Asafoetida.

When Mohammed the Prophet threw away the 360 Vedic idols ( pagan ) and uprooted the Shiva Lingam ( black meterorite stone ) from the Shiva temple at Mecca and installed it on the SE corner of Kaaba , 5 feet above the ground, the King of Calicut , my home town ,  Cheraman Perumal who owned the temple and the accounts office attached to it went to Mecca to see Mohammed.

In Al Musthadrak , Hakim talks about the Calicut King sharing his ginger pickle with Mohammed and all his disciples.

Why the pickle, all the way from Calicut to Mecca?

Well the pickle has Kayam in it. It is an antidote for Opium. Sometimes Kings are given food laced with Opium , when they travel , by his enemies to extract largesse. 

The uses of Hing is expounded in our 6000 years old Ayurvedic texts. It can be eaten or even ingested by the skin.

This reminds me of a true incident.

Off the North coat of Phillipines , my ship was caught in a Typhoon 24 years ago. The recession had just got over and there was an exodus of officers for better paying jobs. I ran my ship with a 58 year old Chief Officer , who came back to sea after 25 years, and two fresh cadets. Since my family was on board, I retained my sanity. I was responsible for 16 hours of navigating watches at sea, I could get sleep only during the Chief Officer's two watch of 8 hours. And that too if he did NOT call me for some doubt.

At around 5AM, I was woken up by some extra heavy rolling. I decided to check out the Navigating bridge. There I found it fully lit and deserted, and I saw my Chief Officer-- let us call him G-- sleeping on the sofa.

I removed my sandals and was about to thrash him with that, when the wheelhouse door suddenly burst open.

The Cadet shouted " Sir, please dont hit him, Chief Officer is unconscious due to shock !!"

G had lost his sea legs due to extended time ashore and had slipped due to the heavy rolling , slid rolled on the wheelhouse floor from port to stbd and vice versa , hit his ribs somewhere, and was in acute pain when the quarter master decided to get some ice from the messroom, and get the NWKO Cadet ( doing Medical officer's duties ) to attend to him. 

To cut a long story short, I got him hospitalised at the first port in Japan--and a new Chief Officer was transferred from some other company ship in Japan to my ship.. Since G was a chain smoker I had confiscated all his cigarettes and told the agent to make sure he does NOT smoke in hospital. Coughing does no good, when your ribs are broken.

When the ship was about to sail, I told the agent to drive me to the hospital, to check out how G was doing. I remember it was a fancy hospital with video camera on rails at the ceiling monitoring every inch of the room. The first thing I did was to check his pyjama pockets and there I found a Japanese cigarette packet. He told be he smoked in the toilet as he was under severe stress. And then he whispered into my ear that he wants to speak to me. So I told him " Go ahead G. Speak your mind!"

He kept stealing glances at my wife by my side. So I told her to wait outside the room. G though 58 years old was a bachelor ( and a virgin for good measure ) , never got a chance to marry as he had unmarried elder sisters, and by the time he got them married, it was too late for him. Only Indians are capable of being in this unique situation.

Then G told me a bizarre thing. He said the young Japanese nurses were playing SEX games with him every day. They would come in a big group, all giggling, then they would pounce on him, pull down his pyjamas,-- and I am sure that gave him a massive hard on. 

And I am sure G had a gigantic dong-- so all the Jap nurses ( in the land of tiny willies ) would land up, to be part of this effort..

That made them giggle even more and they would pin him down on the bed, spread his legs and his ass cheeks and put a finger into his anus , and the shove a sex toy inside and what not!.  He wanted out.  He was NOT willing to suffer anymore of S&M stuff.

Women and children below age of 18--you are NOT allowed to look at the elephant below.

I remember noting that all those nurses of this swank private hospital, were all young and good looking.

And then he showed me the so called sex toy. It was a white oversized suppository-- which G never dreamt in his wildest dreams , would be legitimate medicine-- for pain and inflammation.

And then I had to explain to him, this is normal, next time open your ass cheeks and point up your gaping asshole yourself, don’t make them gang rape you this way.. And that India was the first on the planet to have Hing suppositories for acute piles.

All right--now that I have got your undivided attention, let me get to the core subject of Asafoetida.

Recently when the H1N1 Avian flue, swine flue etc were sweeping the world, everybody wondered why it spared the 1200 million people of India. I would say, because we have certain spices in our diet which immunizes us-- one of which is Hing.

Imagine a South Indian's daily diet-- Rasam, Sambhar, Uppma, Pickles, Papad-- this is every day , every meal onslaught of Hing.  In India there are certain vegetarian sects like Jains and Vaishavites who do NOT consume Garlic and Ginger due to religious beliefs.  Mahavira made them take Hing , in lieu , since 3900 years ago.

In the episode of Samudra Manthan, Vishnu avatar Mohini was distributing the divine amrit to the gods , when 2 asuras Rahu and Ketu, gate crashed into the party and put it into their mouths.

Immediately , before they could swallow it , Vishnu decapitated both with his scalar discus. Their blood fell on the ground and red onion and white garlic.

In Kerala we have Sarpa Kavus or Snake temples. Because nobody goes near them unnecessarily, the flora is intact. If any rare Ayurvedic herbs are required people go there with a piece on Hing in their pockets. This makes sure no snakes will come near them. 

In the olden days Kabuliwalla used to bring Pathani Hing from Afghanistan and Iran. This hing (resin)  which grows on the mountain tops is of very good quality and will dissolve in water into a milky liquid. Adulterated Hing sinks in water. Pure Hing burns when brought to a flame.

In India Hing is a perennial fennel that grows wild to about 3.5 metres high having yellow flowers, in large natural forests where little else grows. The plant requires good sunlight.  The yellow ochre Hing resin is extracted from the roots and the stem. 

 In raw form Hing is strong Garlic smelling , but when cooked the smell disappers into a flavour. 

Hing gives green colur when treated with 68% Nitric acid and red with Sulphuric acid.. 

.Let me list some of the uses of Hing:--

For flatulence and indigestion. Releases gas from the intestines, and is a gastro-intestinal tract cleanser. Reduces growth of mico flora in the gut. For de-worming. 

Laxative.  Anti spasmodic for stomach spasms. Administered as enema. For abdominal tumors, ulcers. 

For women with PMS, for painful and excessive menstruation.. Increases secretion of Progesterone hormone. 

Anti-viral and anti-oxidant. 

Lowers cholesterol. Anti-coagulant. Lowers blood pressure. 


Expectorant. Respiratory disorders.

To heal wounds. For lactating women after childbirth. 

Smelling anti-epileptic 

Smelling anti-hysteria 

Singers use it for sore throat. 

Dissolves foot corns ( anti-fungal ), ringworm  , abscesses --poultice 

Low libido ,impotence, premature ejaculation, nightfall. 


Encourages sweating 

Food preservative. 

For tooth ache , dental caries ( like cloves ) 

To induce abortion. 

Genital infections and STD. 

Brain and liver tonic.

Grace and peace!



  1. Thanks sirji for bringing this informative blog about healthy benefits of hing to us. Am sure even zombie type virus spreads we indians will be spared. This world was started with us and will remain so.
    It's been 2 months since I started reading your blogs. Since then I have stopped watching news channeel all desh drohis I've stopped watching stupid history channels about ancient aliens etc. I only read your blogs whenever time permits. I'm glad to found you. May god bless you and your family with happiness and long life.

  2. hi captain

    is floating stools a matter to be concerned?its almost 5 weeks and still i am not able to get rid of it?is there any cure? and sir have you written anything on how to face interviews?just 6 months far from being a graduate,need your guidance,i would be really happy if you could share some of your experiences,

    PS:only habbit i have changed recently is the usage of copper lotas and a sudden decrease in the intake of milk


    1. hi amn,

      Floaters are bloated by the air in them.

      Sinkers need a lot more fiber in their diet.

      Floating stools are usually nothing to be concerned about. Your stools will most likely return to normal without any treatment. Floating stools are not an illness or disease.
      The two most common causes of floating stools are excess gas and poor absorption of nutrient.

      Certain foods can cause gas in your stools. Foods that commonly cause gas include those that contain large amounts of sugars, lactose, starch, or fiber.

      Malabsorption can occur when your stools pass through your intestines too quickly. Floaters may indicate failure to digest fats.

      A healthy stool is neither a sinker or a floater - it's a combination of the two. If you're in good general health, you'll pass some sinkers, some floaters and some that seem to just sit in the water, neither floating nor sinking.

      As long as your bowel motions are soft, fairly bulky and easy and painless to pass, and there's no sign of blood or excessive mucus in the stools, everything is well down below.

      capt ajit vadakayil

  3. Thanks for the post Capt. I have some real experience with Heeng
    In our home, we use heeng especially when newborn baby arrives. my mom is a big promotor of heeng, there was an incident in our neighborhood, a 8 month old got dehydrated due to stomach flu, got treatment from high end doctors, but when they came home, he got so weak, he kept crying and local Dr. sent them to emergency, that hospital was one hr away, my mom heard the family crying and accompanied them in their van with a bowl of heeng and start rubbing on baby's tummy, by the time they reach hospital baby not only stopped crying, he sounded healthy. Baby's mom told my Mom I owe you a lifetime. I m not sure if she put some in bay's mouth.
    I never gave a single medicine to my babies as per my mom's suggestion, rub heeng on baby's tummy and they will never have gas problem. plus nursing mom should take it everyday, the effect will reach to baby. even I was directed to keep dissolved heeng by baby's bedside, its smell will keep all germs away. Another thing she tells is: if you have loose motion, take heeng with cold water and if you are constipated, take with warm water.
    Aren't we blessed to have such a treasure available?

  4. Dear Captain,

    I have heard my grandmother say that if hing comes in contact with teeth then it can cause tooth decay. But your article states that it can be used as a remedy for tooth ache or dental caries. Can you help clear my misunderstanding?

    Thanks in advance
    Sri Murthy

  5. Is it true ?


    In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu..
    Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.

    The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

    Now there is a P.S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

    Thanks for the reminder.
    I don't know about the farmer's story...but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill...
    I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs.
    ...sure enough it happened just like that.
    ...the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

    This is the other note.

    Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don't know what to blame. Maybe it's the onions that are to blame. Onions ABSORB BACTERIA is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we should NOT eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.

    when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). It's probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it's the POTATOES.

    Onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion. It's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

    It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!).
    If you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

    Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.


    Please pass this to all the people whom you love and care about.

  7. Hello Sir,
    Is using gignger garlic paste fine ?
    How long can it be preserved in fridge.
    My maid had kept an old batch which had lost all its smell.
    Can coconut oil be used to preserver it ?
    Please share.

  8. what is the role of vitamin B12 in serotonin production ?

    for complete vegetarians, is curd, cheese, coconut water fine ?

    does curd need to be had in some special way like adding sugar ?

    my RBC is a bit low and affecting my sleep

  9. Capt., Is Hing a complete alternative to Onion and Garlic, as it contains sulphur?