Formula for Digestion
Hing is the Sanskrit name of a dreadful smelling resinous exudate from the
root of a plant we call asafoetida (fetid.) Hing is several times more obnoxious
smelling than the worst garlic.
[New name: Vata Digest]
This said, it is a potent digestive aid, one capable
of removing even the most obstinate impactions of the gastrointestinal
tract. As one might expect, it is also a superb vermicide, addressing
both round and thread worms. There is much argument in India as
to how to use asafoetida in cooking. Let's say that opinions are
divided as to whether to (1) add the powder to food soon after
the liquids have been placed in the pot to (2) slipping a little
under the lid ten minutes before serving, my preference since I
generally want to leave the house if I use it earlier.
Hinga Shtak is another matter as here, the powder
has been mixed with more aromatic and carminative herbs and spices
to make a digestive aid that is virtually without equal. I have
my own recipe (that is mentioned on the Kitchen Doctor tapes),
but we recently acquired some bottles of the Banyan Botanicals
I never liked the Planetary Herbals Hinga Shtak.
It had an after taste that I found unpleasant. I spent years badgering
Michael Tierra to add some fennel or orange peels or something.
I gave up and began making my hinga shtak and providing it as a
powder others can cap, but we are now looking at a new entry and
hoping it is more pleasant than the PF version.
In essence, what Hinga Shtak does is promote deeper
assimilation of nutrients, especially in the small intestine, which
Ayurveda maintains is predominately associated with rebuilding
of fat and muscle. If movement of the churned brew from the stomach
passes through the small intestines too fast, there is depletion
of mass in the body. However, Hinga Shtak does much more since
it helps maintain proper populations of friendly flora in the lower
intestines while also promoting destruction of parasites.
The formula as a whole is even more interesting
because asafoetida, like most smelly foods and spices, supports
stamina and the proper function of the earth element. The aromatic
spices decrease "vata," derangements of the air element,
especially those most associated with secondary wind pursuant to
fermentation and bloating in the stomach. They also support "agni," the
kind of fire we like (as opposed to "pitta.") We would
thus classify this formula as one that increases earth and fire
(difficult task since these elements tend to neutralize each other)
and pacifies air. It has very little effect on water.
For people who are emaciated, weak, or malnourished,
hinga shtak is a formula to consider. It is also probably important
for those tending towards various blood sugar imbalances as it
helps the pancreas to function better.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2002