Ficus carica L. [Fam. Moraceae]
Syrup made from the juice and fruit of Ficus carica.
– Demulcent and Emollient (soothing agents)
– Digestive Disorders
– Headaches (from liver congestion)
– Intestinal Complaints
– Skin Disorders
Figs, Ficus carica L. [Fam. Moraceae], are the fruit of a small bush or tree native to Persia, Asia Minor, and Syria. Figs were first proclaimed as a health tonic by the ancient King Mithrydates in 1551 B.C. and are frequently mentioned in the Bible. The well-known herbalist, Gerard, believed that, “figs preserve us from all pestilence”. Figs are nutritive, demulcent, emollient and aperient (a mild laxative used to treat headaches, constipation, indigestion and dyspepsia). Figs and fig juice have laxative action, which is why figs are primarily indicated for treating constipation. The British Pharmacopoeia formerly listed three fig laxative preparations for treating children and persons with sensitive systems. In folk tradition, figs are applied as poultices for abscesses and used for other skin abnormalities including warts, blisters, ulcers, abnormal growths and boils. The Old Testament tells of King Hezekiah who was “sick unto death” from “a boil” and was cured after the prophet Isaiah called for “a lump of figs.” Figs and fig extracts contain benzaldehyde, a compound that according to Japanese tests shrinks abnormal growths in humans. Figs also have documented anti-ulcer, antibacterial and antiparasitic power. Asian practitioners prescribe figs for infectious diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. The latex of some Ficus species has been traditionally used as a vermifuge in Central and South America. It is accepted that the anthelmintic (anti-worm) activity is due to a protein-digesting fraction called ficin. However, studies done with mice showed high acute toxicity with hemorrhagic enteritis and incomplete efficacy at eliminating worms and therefore researchers do not recommend using fig latex as a sole treatment for worms. Compounds from the latex of Ficus carica, as well as synthetic analogs, have been shown to suppress abnormal cell proliferation. Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy lists figs for treating amenorrhea, corns and warts.
Figs contain sugar of figs, 62.5%; fatty matter, 0.9%; extractive with chloride of calcium, 0.4; gum with phosphoric acid, 5.2; woody fiber, seeds, and water, 1.60 (P). Starch is abundant in the unripe fig. The milky juice of the common fig tree (Ficus Carica) contains a digestive ferment.
Figs may be eaten liberally as a food, used in moderate amounts for their medicinal properties, or used externally as a poultice. As a laxative, eat one to several figs daily. Fig juice can also be taken as a laxative with the dosage of 1-2 tablespoons daily.
In several patients the effect of a phototoxic reaction to the juice of fresh figs (Ficus carica) was observed as a striped pigmentation on the arms (after rubbing in the fruit juice followed by exposure to the sun), or as a patchy pigmentation of the face after eating fresh figs. Reference is made to the pathogenetic identity of this furocoumarin phototoxic reaction and the clinical transition of ficus dermatitis both to “Berloque dermatitis” (from the oil of types of citrus) and to bullous meadow dermatitis (from the juice of types of heracleum). Reference is also made to the similarity of the therapeutic furocoumarin reaction in PUVA (light) therapy. [Lembo G, Lo Presti M, Balato N. 1985. Phytophotodermatitis due to Ficus carica. Photodermatol. 1985 Apr; 2(2): 119-20; Ippen H. 1982. [Phototoxic reaction to figs] Hautarzt. 1982 Jun; 33(6): 337-9.]
Canal JR, Torres MD, Romero A, Perez C. A chloroform extract obtained from a decoction of Ficus carica leaves improves the cholesterolaemic status of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Acta Physiol Hung. 2000; 87(1): 71-6.
de Amorin A, Borba HR, Carauta JP, Lopes D, Kaplan MA. Anthelmintic activity of the latex of Ficus species. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Mar; 64(3): 255-8.
Rubnov S, Kashman Y, Rabinowitz R, Schlesinger M, Mechoulam R. Suppressors of cancer cell proliferation from fig (Ficus carica) resin: isolation and structure elucidation. J Nat Prod. 2001 Jul; 64(7): 993-6.
Serraclara A, Hawkins F, Perez C, Dominguez E, Campillo JE, Torres MD. Hypoglycemic action of an oral fig-leaf decoction in type-I diabetic patients. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1998 Jan; 39(1): 19-22.
Zaynoun ST, Aftimos BG, Abi Ali L, Tenekjian KK, Khalidi U, Kurban AK. Ficus carica; isolation and quantification of the photoactive components. Contact Dermatitis. 1984 Jul; 11(1): 21-5.