Medicinal plants

Fig - Ficus carica

Fig - Ficus carica

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The fig leaf with which Adam and Eve cover their pubes is one of the oldest records of a cultivated plant. Even today, the real fig is particularly common in the Middle East. It is full of vitamins and minerals, is an ideal energy kick for long hikes and new studies show enormous potential for therapies against worms, bacterial infections, cramps and blood clots - even against cancer.

Profile to the fig

  • Scientific name: Ficus carica
  • Common names: In German there are several common names for the real fig, which are mostly derived from Fig / Ficus: Feyegen, Fichboum, Figenbaym, Figenpawm, Figenbaum, Figenbom, Vigbom, Wighen, Vyghen et cetera.
  • application areas:
    • Bowel and stomach problems
    • constipation
    • hemorrhoids
    • cold
    • Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency)
    • Weakness of the liver
    • Skin inflammation / ulcers
    • to cough
    • Worm infestation
    • bacterial infections
  • Parts of plants used: Fruits, leaves and bark


Fig contains ficine, the fiber pectin, vitamins, ferments, fructose, mucilage, fruit acids and benzaldehyde, as well as invert sugar. Phytochemical studies showed various bioactive substances such as phytosterols, organic acids, triterpenoids and coumarins in the leaves and fruits. The phenolic acids include caffeoylquinic acids, ferulic acid, quercetin-3-0-glucosides, psoralen, bergapten and organic acids, including oxalic acid, citric acid, malic acid, quinic acid, shikimic acid and fumaric acid. Four triterpenoids could be isolated, including oleanolic acid, bauerenol and lupeol acetate. Monoterpenes are lime and menthol.

Leaf biochemicals

The following could be found in the leaves: benzyl alcohol, phenylethyl alcohol, methyl butanal, 2-methyl butanal, (E) -2-pentanal, hexanal. Added to this are coumarins and furanocoumarins, bergapten, psoralen, umbelliferon, marmesin, scolopetin, polysaccharides, triterpenes and tannins.

Phenols in the dried fruit

Dried fruits contained higher concentrations of phenols than fresh ones. Among these, quercetin rutinoside particularly stood out.

Fig - vitamins and minerals

Figs contain a particularly large amount of vitamin B1, which is important for the energy transfer in the human body and also influences our mood. There are also other B group vitamins that play a role in the development of the nervous system. Added to this are vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Amino acids

Figs also offer many protein amino acids, which, together with the B vitamins, make them first-class energy suppliers - for example during long hikes or sports. The fruits contain a lot of phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium in minerals.

Effects of the fig - diet, laxatives, digestive aid

Figs promote digestion, lead away and the fiber leads to a fast feeling of satiety, which is why they are good for diets. The mucus and sugar substances present in the plant have a laxative effect, which is particularly suitable for children. Digestive enzymes in the fresh fruit facilitate the absorption of food.

The phenolic components in the fig not only play a significant role in protecting the plant from harmful influences, some of them also exert this bioactivity in the human body. In this way, they can reduce agents and eliminate free radicals. Of all parts of the plant, the fruits show the greatest antioxidative ability. They also have the highest level of polyphenols.

The B vitamins contained in the fruits regulate the metabolism and stabilize the nerves. The folic acid present enables cell division and blood formation. The contained biotin supports healthy skin, strong hair and strong fingernails. The high proportion of magnesium promotes the regeneration of the cells and regulates the energy balance. The iron in the figs is necessary to form blood and helps against anemia caused by iron deficiency. The potassium also helps to balance blood pressure.

Fig for constipation

Figs are easy to digest because they have little acidity compared to other fruits. However, they provide a lot of fiber with their numerous small cores. To use figs against constipation, cover dried fruits with water, let them stand overnight and eat them on an empty stomach the next morning.

Cancer effects

A mixture of 6-O-acyl-ß-d-glucosyl-ß-sitosterols was isolated as a cytotoxic agent from figs and was found to be suitable in vitro to curb the growth of various cancer cells.

Against bacteria and fungi

Methanol extract from figs showed a strong antibacterial activity against bacteria in the mouth. Synergy effects occurred with ampicillin or gentamicin. So fig is a natural agent against bacteria. Studies have shown antimicrobial effects against five types of bacteria and seven fungal species. Among other things, an 80 percent methanol extract from the leaves of the fig tree was effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv.

Fig against fever

Extracts of ethanol from figs in doses of 100, 200 and 300 milligrams / kilogram showed a marked decrease in body temperature depending on the dose. This effect lasted up to five hours after taking the extract.

Fig against worms

In one study, 40 different plants were tested for their effectiveness against worms that parasitize humans. The worms were Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, Panagrellus redivivus and Caenorhabditis elegans. An extract from fig leaves showed the deadliest effect of all plants. Of the three worm species, 74.3, 96.2 and 98.4 percent died within 72 hours.

Figs as antispasmodic and against thrombosis

Aqueous ethanol extracts from figs showed effects on human platelets in animal experiments and in the ex-vivo model. Ripe dried figs clearly counteracted spasms, presumably because they activated the channels for potassium ions. This provides a good pharmacological basis for the medical use of figs for bowel movement and against inflammatory diseases.

Fig in naturopathy

In naturopathy, the juice from the fig stalks serves as a remedy for skin inflammation. The juice is spread over the affected areas. Fresh figs soaked in water or milk are used in naturopathy as a remedy for inflammation, throat pain and as a remedy for cough. The milky sap of the fig tree is used in naturopathy against warts such as eczema. It contains the protease ficin.

Fig in complementary medicine

Fig can accompany main therapies for wound healing as well as those for inflammation of the mucous membranes. Compresses with the mus from fresh fruits are used as well as mouthwashes, gargling or washing with the juice.

Fig in folk medicine: aphrodisiac and gout remedy

There are many uses of figs in folk medicine, but they are not well documented. Fresh figs are used as a remedy for bladder stones, kidney stones and gout. With kidney stones, there could be some effect that the tannins contained in figs stimulate urine flow. Arabs use an aphrodisiac made from figs, almonds, pistachios, cardamom, saffron, sugar and milk.


The fruits are a safe food. The milk juice can cause skin irritation when exposed to the sun.

What does the study situation say?

Recent studies show bioactive substances from Ficus carica that can be used for future healing methods. In this way, new medicines for parasites can be developed from the leaves.

Fig - where is it common?

The fig is one of the oldest cultivated fruit plants of mankind. The origin of the wild form is probably in Western Asia. It was cultivated in ancient times on the Mediterranean, Persia, Arabia and the Eastern Roman Empire. They knew Assyrians as well as Egyptians, ancient Syrians and Greeks. From the Mediterranean islands it spread to North Africa and Southern Europe.

Today the main growing countries are Turkey, Iran and Greece. Most fig varieties are too sensitive to cold in Germany, but there are now forms that can survive cold, humid winters. In the warming period of the Middle Ages, however, figs also grew as regular fruit on the German Rhine. Today there are small cultivation regions in this country in warm islands such as the Dresden Elbe Valley, the mountain and wine route and the Palatinate. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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