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Ayurvedic 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 brand.

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.

Kitchen Doctor
Kitchen Doctor
Taste and the Elements

The Ayurvedic system of taste and the elements is presented in a way that anyone interested can immediately begin applying the ideas so as to further constitutional balance through diet. In Ayurveda, taste is considered to be a clue to the pharmacology of food.
Four 90-minute audio cassettes, $

Vata Digest
Digestive formula specifically for vata types

Contains: ginger, black pepper, and pippali (the ingredients in Trikatu) plus celery, cumin, asafoetida, and salt.

Banyan Botanicals, 90 tablets, $


Huge Selection of Ayurvedic Herbs and Formulas


Introduction to Ayurveda

Digestion, Ayurvedic Concept of Digestive Fire || Parasites

Chyawanprash || Hinga Shtak, Digestive Formula || Kicharee Recipe

Kapha Dosha || Vata Dosha || Churnas

Taste and the Elements || Smell || Ayurvedic Toothpastes

Ingrid's First Exposure to Ayurveda

Dosha Balance



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*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.