The genus Ficus of family Moraceae, has more than 800 species of plants. Some trees that that belong to this genus are Bargad (F. bengalensis), Pipal (F.religosa), Gular/Cluster Fig/ Indian Fig (F. racemosa) etc. The Common fig or Anjeer (Ficus carica) also belong to this important medicinal tree genus. Ficus Carica or Common Fig Tree bears bell shaped fruits with narrow neck. These fruits are known as figs in English. The flowers develop inside the fruits and are not visible. The fruits have an opening (eye or ostiole) for its development.
The figs are eaten fresh or dried. The fresh figs are available only during one season but its dried form is available throughout the year.
Kingdom: Plantae (plants) Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae (green plants) Division: Tracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes) Subdivision: Spermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants) Infradivision: Angiospermae (flowering plants, angiosperms) Class: Magnoliopsida Order: Rosales Family: Moraceae (mulberries) Genus: Ficus L. (fig Species: Ficus carica L. (fiku, piku, common fig, edible fig)
- Botanical name: Ficus carica Linn
- Family: Moraceae
- Ayurvedic: Phalgu, Manjul, Raajodumbara, Bhadrodumbara
- Unani: Anjeer, Teen
- Siddha/Tamil: Semaiatti
Common names: Fig (English), Higo (Spanish), Figue (French), Feige (German), Fico (Italian)
Common fig is native to Mediterranean region. It is cultivated in many parts of world with dry summers and mild winters. In India, it is cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Fig tree is a large deciduous tree, reaching up to 50 ft tall. The branches are muscular and twisting, spreading wider than they are tall. The leaves are bright green, single, alternate and large (to 1 ft length). They are more or less deeply lobed with 1 – 5 sinuses, rough hairy on the upper surface and soft hairy on the underside.
The flowers are tiny, clustered inside the green fruits (synconium). Pollinating insects enter to the flowers through an opening at the apex of the synconium. In the case of the common fig the flowers are all female and need no pollination.
Constituents of Anjeer
Phenolics, flavonoids, alkaloids and saponins and other secondary metabolites.
Health benefits of Fig or Anjeer
- Anjir or Figs are very nutritious. They can be eaten fresh or dried. Removing moisture from fresh fruits helps to preserve them for future use.
- In both form, figs contain high amount of fibres and thus works as a laxative and helps the evacuation of bowel. Due to laxative property, figs also gives relief in piles. Figs are good for digestive system and improves metabolism. They tone intestine and remove toxins.
- Dried figs are good source of fibre, carbohydrates, sugars (fructose and glucose), minerals, vitamins, organic acids and minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium.
- Figs are helpful in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides. Their regular intake is a good natural remedy for lowering cholesterol.
- Figs are helpful in reducing risk of heart diseases and high blood pressure as these are low in sodium but high potassium.
- Figs eating alkalises blood and maintains proper pH of blood. This is helpful as Acidosis or low pH of blood is harmful for body and is responsible for many diseases.
- Eating 8-10 or about 100 grams figs, gives energy (250 calories), fat (0.9g), protein (3.3g), carbohydrate (64g), fibre (10g), sugars (48g), calcium (162mg) and potassium (680mg).
- Figs are good for heart, bones (as rich in calcium), digestive system, blood and reproductive system and its regular intake improves overall health.
Medicinal uses of Figs
Figs or Anjeer are very beneficial for health. These are sweet, astringent, and cooling in nature. Figs causes proper bowel evacuation and detoxify body. These balances excess wind or vata and bile or pitta but increases mucous or kapha. Figs are natural remedy for high blood pressure, constipation, piles, digestive troubles and excess vata or wind in body. Dried figs soaked in water and taken after few hours helps to reduce vata inside body. Women should eat 3-4 dried fig daily to replenish calcium and iron.
Following is given, how to use figs to treat some common chronic health ailments. These are simple home remedies and are without any side-effect.
Physical weakness, weakness after illness: Figs are very rich in calcium and iron and cures any type of weakness. Soak 3-4 dried anjeer in water in night and chew in morning.
Anaemia, low haemoglobin level: Soak 2 – 3 dried figs in a cup of water overnight. The next morning have them with milk. Do this for one month.
Anorexia, loss of appetite: Dried figs and raisins should be soaked overnight and taken the next morning along with the water in which they were soaked.
Cough, cold, sore throat:
1. Soak 3 – 4 almonds and one dried fig in a cup of water for 2 – 3 hours. Remove the outer skin of the almonds and grind them together with the fig to form a paste. Add one teaspoonful of honey to the paste and have it at bedtime.
1. Anjeer has mild laxative action. Boil dried anjeer in milk and drink. This will cure constipation.
2. Two or three dried figs should be soaked in one glass cold water at night after cleaning them thoroughly with hot water. These should be taken next morning. Figs should be taken similarly in the evening. This will cure straining at stools.
Piles will be cured with regular use of figs in this manner for three or four weeks.
Weight management: Figs are helpful in weight loss. Due to its richness of fibre, the person tend to take lesser energy without affecting the hunger. Figs also improves body metabolism. This helps in efficient weight management.
Lowering blood pressure: Due to high amount of potassium and low amount of sodium it helps to lower BP.
Blood infection: Take dry anjeer with misri for a week.
Sexual weakness, Aphrodisiac Food: Figs are helpful in improving reproductive health. In sexual weakness, soaking few figs in milk and eating in morning is helpful.
Few important points
- No doubt anjeer is very beneficial for health but do not consume it too much because that may give you stomach ache.
- Also in diabetic person it should be consumed in less quantity.
- Dried figs are tough, so it is better to soak them first. For soaking, figs should be washed first. These should be soaked in drinking water. The water that is used for soaking should be drunk.
- Figs contain oxalates so people suffering from stones should avoid eating it.