Ferula, Asa thetis

It grows in the semi-deserts of Central Asia and Iran from the Aral Sea to the Persian Gulf.

Both species are large plants adapted to life in the desert. They have a thick turnip-like juicy root, which gives several very large three- and four-parted leaves every spring. Only a few years later, a tall hollow stem grows, bearing a very powerful apical inflorescence – a complex umbrella. The stem grows very quickly, using spring moisture. For 6 weeks, he finishes his life cycle and bears fruit – visloplodniki, and then dries up. The plant dies, the resin in the root is destroyed and it becomes fibrous. Dry stems remain standing in the desert, forming, as it were, a forest; the height of the first species is 1.5–2 m, the second is greater (3 m).

Juice is obtained by cutting the roots of non-flowering specimens. At the end of the growing season, when the leaves of the plant wither, they are cut off, the root is partially exposed, a thin transverse plate is cut off from it; a milky juice comes out of the root, solidifying in the air. The next day, it is collected and the next layer is cut from the root to obtain more and more portions of the milky juice. In the air, the juice turns brown and dries.

Hardened milky juice (Gummiresina Asa faetida) consists of resin (40-65%), gum (12-25%) and essential oil (5-20%). Ferulic acid, resen (asaresen), resitaynol (asarezitannol) and resinol (asaresinol) and their esters with ferulic acid were isolated from the resin. The essential oil consists mainly of organic sulfides (for example, isobutylpropenyl disulfide), which cause the unpleasant smell of asa fetida; also contain a-pinene and p-oxycoumarin.


Coumarins (umbelliferon, etc.) were also found in the resin.

Asa fetida is used as an anticonvulsant; her product is Tinct. Asae foetidae (often mixed with valerian tincture). Asa fetida was introduced into European medicine by the Arabs in the 10th century; has long been known in oriental medicine.

The plant contains gum resins.



Like essential oils, resins are complex mixtures of various organic compounds. In plants, they are often present simultaneously with essential oils, but may be accompanied by substances from other groups of natural compounds – gums, tannins, sterols, sometimes rubber.

According to the primary composition, there are three main groups of natural resins:

– resins (actually) – Rsina;

– oil-resin, or balms, – Olea-resina, or Balsama. These are liquid resins, which are natural solutions of resins in their own essential oil;

– gum resins – Gummi-resina. These are liquid (in living plants) mixtures of gums and resins dissolved in essential oil (more precisely, Cummi-olea-resina).

The resins themselves, freed from accompanying substances, like the components of essential oils, are also terpenoids, but more complex, belonging mainly to the class of diterpenes (C 20 H 32 ).

Resin hydrocarbons (for example, pimaradiene), their oxygen derivatives, resinol or resin acids (for example, abietic and pimaric acids) and resinol or resin alcohols (for example, cafestol) are distinguished among resin diterpenes.


Among the resinols, rezitannols or tannols, which have the properties of tannins, are distinguished into a special group. Resinols can form esters.

The constituent substances of resins can be triterpene acids and alcohols – derivatives of a- and b-amirin (for example, mastic tree), lignans (for example, guaiac resin), etc.

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