Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ficus carica L.

Family : Moraceae

Synonym(s) : Fructus caricae, Ficus passa, Caricae

English Name : Common Fig; syconus (fruit)

Ficus carica is a bush or small tree, rarely more than 18 to 20 feet high, with broad, rough, deciduous, deeply-lobed leaves in the cultivated varieties, though in wild forms the leaves are often almost entire. It is actually neither fruit nor flower, though partaking of both, being really a hollow, fleshy receptacle, enclosing a multitude of flowers, which never see the light, yet come to full perfection and ripen their seeds In the Fig, the inflorescence, or position of the flowers is concealed within the body of the 'fruit.' The Fig stands alone in this peculiar arrangement of its flowers. The edge of the pear-shaped receptacle curves inwards, so as to form a nearly closed cavity, bearing the numerous fertile and sterile flowers mingled on its surface, the male flowers mostly in the upper part of the cavity and generally few in number. As it ripens, the receptacle enlarges greatly and the numerous one-seeded fruits become embedded in it. The fruit of the wild kind never attains the succulence of the cultivated kinds. The Figs are borne in the axils of the leaves, singly. Figs are usually pear-shaped and up to 5cm in diameter.

Southern and northwestern India and throughout warmer and temperate parts of both hemispheres.

Parts Used : Fruit, leaf and aerial part

Herb Effects
It is considered that the laxative property resides in the saccharine juice of the fresh fruit and in the dried fruit is probably due to the indigestible seeds and skin. The fruit is mildly laxative, demulcent, digestive and pectoral. The unripe green fruits are cooked with other foods as a galactogogue and tonic. The roasted fruit is emollient and stimulates the cardiovascular system (aerial part).

Active Ingredients
Arginine, ascorbic acid, bergapten, beta-amyrin, betabeta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, kaempferol, liferone, linolenic acid, lupeol, lutein, syringic and vanillic acids (wood); psoralen, quercetin and rutin.

Medicinal Use
In leucoderma (leaf); removing kidney stones (fruit); as a poultice (in boils) (roasted fruit); catarrhal affections of the nose and throat; as a poultice in the treatment of mouth sores, dental abscesses etc.

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.


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