Fig (Wu Hua Guo)
Botanical Name: Western – Ficus carica, F. Corinifolia. Eastern – F. lacor, F. retusa.
Unlike most fruits, dried figs contain more nutritional value than fresh figs, though both are highly nutritious and good for you. Certain compounds in figs are known to be toxic to human cancer cells, making figs a good anticancer food. They are rich in antioxidants helping to keep you healthy and slow the effects of aging. Fig leaves are also useful for treating diabetes, skin cancer, fighting wrinkles caused by aging, and lowering cholesterol.Traditional Chinese Medicine considered figs to be a Yin and Yang balancing food.
Below is an overview of Fig (Wu Hua Guo), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Fig (Wu Hua Guo).
Western Name: Fig
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Digestive, Endocrine, Reproductive, Respiratory, Immune System
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Figs – Anticancer, Antibacterial, Anti-aging, Antifungal. Fig Leaves – Antidiabetic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Anti-aging, Laxative. Cancer, anemia, diabetes, leprosy, liver disease, skin diseases, ulcers, digestive disorders, urinary tract infections (UTIs), immune enhancing, prevents heart disease, weight loss.
Pin Yin: Wu Hua Guo
Also Known As: Tu
Meridians: Lung, Stomach, Large Intestines
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat/Promotes Secretion of Saliva and Body Fluids: constipation, sore throat, diarrhea, dry cough. Strengthens the Stomach: stimulates appetite, builds strength, indigestion, promotes lactation. Strengthens Large Intestine/Removes Toxicity/Resolves Swelling: constipation, bruises, insect bites, tumors.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruit (Dried or Raw), Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral
Caution: Very Safe. Some people with allergies to mulberry or natural latex, may be allergic to fig tree fruit or leaves. Fig latex is toxic and not recommended for internal use. Used externally it can cause skin irritation so use with caution, if at all.
History/Folklore: The fig is said to be one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. Archeological findings in Neolithic villages dating from 9400-9200 BC reveal fossils of figs, predating the cultivation of wheat and barley. They are often mentioned in the Bible. Some believe that it was a fig and not an apple that was The Forbidden Fruit that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden. The ancient king Mithrydates proclaimed figs to be a health tonic in 1551 BCE.
Figs have been used throughout history on long voyages to help maintain health.
Figs were so popular with the Ancient Greeks that there were laws preventing the exportation of the highest quality figs. In Rome, the founding myth of Romulus and Remus and the wolf that nurtured them occurred under a fig tree. They are an essential component in the currently popular Mediterranean Diet, which is one of the healthiest diets in the world. The Roman herbalist, Pliny regarded them as a great aid for building strength and speed. A diet of figs was fed to the gladiators to help build their stamina and to geese for the production of foie gras. The Spartan athletes also ate figs to build strength.
A cough remedy, taken from the Queen’s Closed Opened, dating from 1655, recommends a handful of hysop, blended with one ounce each of figs, raisins, dates and barley be brought to a boil in a quart of water, and then strained. Add two egg whites with sugar and honey and bring to a boil again. Variations of this effective cough syrup are still used today.
The high levels of potassium in figs helps to control blood pressure. Figs are also an excellent source of dietary fiber which has been shown to help with weight loss. The fiber helps support a feeling of fullness and it also has been shown to assist the intestines by supporting proper bowel movements and motility, leading to improved detoxification. Taken together these two functions support weight loss. Another study found that in postmenopausal women there was a 34% decrease in breast cancer risk for those who consumed more fruit fiber compared to those who consumed the least.
In some cultures, fig leaves are part of the diet. Fig leaves are considered to have insulin-lowering properties allowing a diabetic to actually lower the amount of insulin they need to take.
In China, the species F. lacor is used to induce sweating and the species F. retusa is used in China, Indonesia and Australia to treat toothache and tooth decay. Beside using the fruit and dried leaves, the Chinese will also pound and powder the figs for external application or use in decoctions, washes and poultices. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers figs to be a Yin and Yang balancing food.
The species F. Corinifolia, is used in Central America as a poultice to treat wounds and bruises. The sap is applied to scorpion bites and to treat ringworm. The dried leaves are smoked and used to treat asthma and the fruit is used to treat constipation.
The Aztecs made paper, called “amati” from the inner bark of the fig tree. Their codices were recorded on this kid of paper. Because the paper was used in sacred ceremonies it was banned by the Catholic Church during the colonial era. Remnants of this tradition managed to survive in parts of rural Mexico where fig bark paper is cut into the shapes of crops and planted along with seeds as an offering to ensure good harvests. The paper is still used for sorcery by Mexican “witches” to make paper dolls for spells of love or for a hated enemy. In some towns, artists use brown “amati” to make colorful paintings that are sold in shops and markets.
Traditional Arabian medicine uses figs as a diuretic, laxative and emollient for treating hemorrhoids, leprosy and building strength and stamina.
Fig leaves have been dried and used in perfumes and as an ingredient in potpourii to cleanse and refresh indoor environments.
“The rarest of the rare,” is a Hindi saying that relates to the fact that the flowers of the fig tree are never seen.
Fig trees produce a natural latex sap that is used for practical and medicinal purposes. As the latex can be toxic, internal use is not recommended. However, recent studies indicate that fig latex inhibits growth of cancerous stomach cell growth within the stomach lining. It is being reviewed for use in pharmaceutical medicines. The latex is also considered to have analgesic properties as well as being safely used eternally to treat warts, tumors, hemorrhoids, and insect bites. Be aware though, external use can cause allergic reactions in some people who will experience itching and irritated skin. Use with caution.
Figs are a symbol of peace, abundance and prosperity.
The word “sycophant” derives from the Greek word meaning, “one who shows the fig,” a reference to a vulgar gesture made with the hand.
The state of California in the United States is one of the largest producers of figs along with Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain. They were brought to California by Spanish missionaries led by Father Junipero Serra. The trees are drought tolerant and help to create shady cool areas for animals to take shelter under during intense heat.
Fig and Leaves – Soluble fiber, Vitamins A, E, K, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Polyphenols. Bark Sap – Latex.
Some Key Measurements
Besides containing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, one average size fig also contains about 35 calories, over a gram of fiber and 3+% of your daily value of potassium.
Wild fig trees can live to be up to 100 years old and grow to be as tall as 100 feet high.
Properly dried and stored figs can last for as long as 18-24 months, while still maintaining their nutritional value.
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